Full disclosure: historically I’ve never put a lot of thought into the emails I send. I’d compose a subject line, write something I assumed was awesome, and press send. The key idea behind this was the assumption that regardless of the content of the email, if someone liked me enough they’d open it.

Working in online marketing has flipped this notion on its head.

Now, I’ve developed a bit of a crush on email marketing. I see it as one of the fastest ways to get one-on-one feedback on whether or not your customer thinks you suck.

In this article I’ll be answering some of the most frequently-asked-questions on email marketing.

But before I get the ball rolling I want to delve a little deeper into why email marketing is now so important to me, and should be to you.

Stick with me on this… think of the main touchpoints you have to reach a person:

Social media, snail mail, blogging, SEO, paid advertising, etc. Now, how many of those allow you to have a one-on-one conversation?

None. Email is the only avenue of communication which allows you to talk one-on-one.

The coolest part of email is that whether you’re sending one email or one million, they’re being sent to individuals. Email allows you to individually greet all of your customers and treat them like the people they are.

Think about this the next time you write an email.

On to the 7 Most Frequently-Asked-Questions about Email Marketing:

  1. Is email marketing still relevant in 2015 – Is it sustainable?


According to a recent study conducted by Radicati, over 100 billion business-related emails are sent everyday.

But how many of these are actually seen by the intended recipient? Opened? Clicked-through?

According to a benchmark report released by Mailchimp, open rates varied based on the industry sending them. Open rates in this report ranged from 13.2% for Daily Deals/E-Coupons to 30.78% for hobby related emails.

The thing is, email was noted as the most effective marketing channel in 2014. And chances are it’s only going to get bigger in 2015. This year there’s more we can do as marketers to send highly targeted emails, to make them more visually appealing and share content that matters.

Not only is email marketing still relevant, it’s one of the most under-optimized platforms to reach your customers. If you put a little extra effort into your emails I can (almost) guarantee an increase in your customer base.

2.) How do I create trust in my emails?


Trust is one of the most influential variables standing between a person responding positively to your email or not.

Creating trust doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just go from, ‘Hey, here’s the ebook you wanted’ to ‘Are you ready to buy my product?’ in a couple days. Inbound marketing is a long play game that requires you to show your cards without looking at theirs.

The following is an example of what not to do if you’re looking to create trust..

Since the beginning of January I’ve been receiving emails from a marketing company which will go unnamed (but god it’s tempting!). The first email I received was a confirmation for a webinar I’m 100% sure I didn’t sign up for.

You will start destroying trust by sending out emails before you’ve received permission from a user. This unnamed marketing company never confirmed that I wanted to receive emails from them and was extremely pushy in their sales pitch. Here is a timely rundown of the emails I’ve received from them and a screenshot following the timeline. I’d like you to keep in mind that I’ve never taken any action aside from opening the emails.

Emails sent from “Unnamed Marketing Company” over a 3-week period:

  • 1 Confirmation of registration
  • 1 Report containing statistics on PPC advertising, in exchange for more information about me
  • 5 Sales pitches
  • 3 Weekly newsletters
  • 2 Article compilations
  • 1 Case study

Remember, valuable information will build your relationship with your email subscribers. Inundating them with five sales emails in the course of less than three weeks with no action on your prospects part is going to damage the relationship and could ultimately lead to you being written about on a marketing blog.

3.) How do I increase my open rates?


There are two things that a person will see right away when they receive an email from you. The “From” – who sent this and “Subject line” – what is this email about. Time of day and day of week will also play a factor but for this article I will be focusing solely on the “From” and “Subject line” sections.

Let’s start by looking at the ‘From’ section. There are three main ways you can state who an email is from and I’ve ordered them from most effective to least effective:

  • First name + company: Using this format does two things, it creates personalization by showing it’s being sent from a person and not some nameless computer program. Secondly it creates familiarization by using the company name. If someone subscribed to recieve emails they would have done so from the company you work for and not you personally.
  • First and last name of the sender: This only really works if you’re an influencer or a person has signed up to your personal blog.
  • Name of company: This is totally impersonal and I recommend avoiding this. Again, one of the things I like best about email is the ability to create a one-on-one conversation. How personal of a conversation is it if you’re communicating as a faceless business?

On to subject lines.

  • Rule #1: Be creative but informative when crafting your subject lines. Primarily this is about not being too “click bait-ey”. Sure it might make a person more likely to open your email but it’s probably going to result in less people clicking through on your offer. You want it to be interesting but you also don’t want to lie to your subscribers.
  • Rule #2: Mix up the content in your subject lines. Don’t just post the title of your articles and hope they’ll be opened every time. Talk about an important breakthrough in the content you’re offering. Make it stand out in the crowd of emails that you get. My advice with subject lines, do something different from the rest of the marketers in your field.
  • Rule #3: Don’t TALK like THIS because it READS LIKE SPAM!! The conversational tone you should be using in your emails needs to translate into your subject line as well.

4.) How do I get people to click-through on my offer?


Taking a person from opening your email to clicking through on your offer can be a challenge. Here are six rules of thumb I’ve found that work wonders:

  1. Include a good offer – This means having content that is worthy of sharing. Something that shows a person why they should be working with you. If you send out crap, you’re going to receive crap back – it’s as easy as that.
  1. Provide a low barrier to entry – If you send an ebook as an offer and you’re asking for a ton of information it may discourage people from converting. If you’re a smaller business you want to warm up people to a big ask.
  1. Make sure the links work – Send out a test email to make sure the links are actually working. If the person can’t click-through on your offer then you’re going to have a 0% chance of conversion
  1. Keep your text size and font consistent – Double-check your merge tags to make sure that the text looks the same (may need to do this in your test email). It makes me weary to receive an email that contains more than one font size.
  1. Spell check – Get at least one other person to go over your email, two if you want to be extra cautious. Spell check doesn’t always pick up on things that an editor will.
  1. Include a call-to-action – What is the purpose of your email? If it’s to get a person to read your latest article let them know with no confusion or extra links.

5.) What can I do to personalise my emails?


Short answer, act like a human, long answer… Almost everything you do in online marketing will be received more positively by your intended audience if you write in a conversational tone.

This is especially the case for email marketing.

If someone gives you their email they’re looking to start a relationship with you or your business. It’s quite simple: you get someones permission to email them; you send them information related to their interests while also promoting your business; they buy from you.

Except that it’s not that simple.

How can you create a personalized tone in your emails?

Start with a simple greeting. Think of how you’d talk to your friends. You’d say things like: “hey”, “hi,” or ”how’s it going”.

If you have their name, you can use it, but be careful. It’s going to look way less professional if you’re using merge tags that don’t catch “asdf” as an unlikely first name.

Use a combination of “You” “Me” and “I” in your email but don’t focus too heavily on either side.

6.) How do I build my email list?


The keyword in this question is ‘build’. Please, do me a solid and never, ever purchase an email list. First off, it’s illegal in both the United States and Canada to email people who haven’t subscribed to receive your emails and secondly, how likely is it that an untargeted person will open and respond to your emails?

Here are some ideas to start building your email list:

  • Create an ad and link it to a landing page that includes a great, email-gated offer.
  • Start a blog and optimize your articles for SEO. Place a popup on your blog so that people know they can sign up to receive updates from you.
  • Run a contest and promote it on your social media accounts. In order for them to enter they’ll have to enter their email. When you email them to let them know that they’ve entered the contest you can ask if they’d like to subscribe to your list.
  • Go to networking events. Bring a business card with your name and email on it,

7.) How frequently should I send emails to my list?


The amount of information you have on an email subscriber will help dictate how often you should be sending emails.

Ask how often they’d like to receive emails. My favorite companies have always asked how often I’d like to be receiving emails and the content that I’d like to get in them. Do I want to receive daily, weekly or monthly emails? Do I want to hear about company updates, articles or event notifications?

Send emails to your list as often as they want them and as often as you’ve proven (with testing) that they’re likely to engage.