10 Minute Read

3 Things That Will Make Or Break Your Email Marketing Strategy

First, the facts. Email was, is and will be for some time, a crucial part of your B2B Marketing Strategy. Full stop. If someone tells you email is dead, they are a big liar. Research from McKinsey shows that emails are 40 times more likely to convert than social media. While some might consider social media to be the trendy new kid on the block (NKOTB4LIFE) it’s email addresses that everyone really wants to capture no matter what their marketing efforts look like!  

If you work in email marketing, strategy is everything. From subject lines to automation, everything you do has to be strategic and downright sexy if want to see the results. There is no formula for a successful campaign but there are elements to email that initially seem small but are absolutely vital to the survival and to the success of your campaign. Here are 3 elements that can make or break your email marketing strategy.


To open or not to open

Getting your email opened is one of the most important things in your approach and it all starts with your subject line. If your subject line sucks or you sound like a robot, you better believe your email is going straight to the trash. Every so often I send a personal email (as a counter-point to our newsletter, which goes out weekly). For our newsletter, the headline is usually a list of three things contained therein. But for my personal missives, it will be a personal statement, a song lyric, or an unfinished sentence. You’ll never guess which one gets more clicks.

33% of all email recipients open the email based on the subject line. A couple of  ways to get your email opened are to create subject lines with 30 characters or less. Keep in mind mobile devices only show 25 characters. 91% of consumers check their email at least once a day with their mobile, so it is vital to keep all devices in mind when creating emails. If your subject line is too long, people may instinctively know you’re marketing to them

33% of all email recipients open an email based on the subject line Click To Tweet

Second, create a subject line to attract the audience. Who are they? Does it relate to them? Will it make them curious? Does it solve a pressing issue that is weighing on their mind? Like a great song lyric, email subject lines reach into the busy chaos of someone’s life and force them to click. One day after one of my employees had given her notice, I was feeling down (because it was the second two weeks’ notice I’d been given that month). At that moment, an email popped into my inbox with the Subject Line: Do you have a retention problem? I never opened anything so fast.

You’ll never get this kind of insight without knowing who your buyer personas are. If you don’t know the trials and tribulations of being an agency owner (like me), you’re way less likely to write a subject line that resonates with me.

If you aren’t writing intriguing subject lines the reader will move on. As of this writing, I have over 400 emails in my inbox (FROM TODAY), I don’t have time for boring or vague. Also, be mindful of words you are using. One word can make all the difference, good or bad.


email marketing


You so pretty!

As adults, we love images just as much as we did as children. Images can make all the difference once the reader opens your email. In some Red Branch research (™) of our own, we have found that more people clicked on the CTA (call to action link) than the button itself. Finding out this piece of information completely changed our strategy for that client.

Remember to keep your design simple and don’t be afraid of white space. Two of the biggest issues I’ve seen in email design are 1) responsive images and 2) Image text. I can’t tell you how many times, I get an email in my inbox that displays an awesome subject line and the text from the image shows through. For example, it will show up as this:

email marketing


I can’t help but laugh every time. Be sure to check all image names so this doesn’t happen to you. Make sure to create great and interesting alt-text for your images when you upload them so this doesn’t happen. There are also certain email platforms such as Outlook that don’t display images. Everyone pays attention to optimizing images for blogs and websites and completely forgets to work on them in their emails.

If you are still making non-mobile friendly emails, PLEASE STOP! It’s inconvenient for your reader, it makes you look terrible as a company (and many of you reading this are tech companies so be doubly ashamed of yourself). Any marketing automation platform worth its salt will have come out with responsive templates ages ago. Use them. 75% of your readers will delete your emails if they aren’t mobile friendly. There is an increase of a 30% click through rate if the design is responsive versus if it is a non-responsive design.

75% of your readers will delete your emails if they aren’t mobile friendly. Click To Tweet


Oh, no you didn’t

I’ve subscribed to this one marketing company’s emails. I receive 3 emails a day from them. I use them for resources or inspiration so I just throw them in a folder until I need to look at them. But most people sign up for email for a different reason and if I were a prospect for this company, I would have unsubscribed a long time ago! They are completely exhausting their people. If you do this, beware you will turn off the customer you are trying so hard to engage. 69% of consumers unsubscribed from emails because they were sent too frequently. Sending too often, you risk losing your leads and any revenue they may have brought with them.

Send times are also important. Wordstream conducted a test and found over 25% clicks occurred on Thursday’s emails that went out between 8-9am. Their lowest open rates occurred on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s between 8-10am. While this study may have been applicable to Wordstream, keep in mind different industries. Depending on who you are sending to, think like them. For instance, if you are sending to a teacher or a school worker, try to send in the morning, during lunch or at late afternoon. These are the moment when the teachers or educators would have moments to even look at their email. It’s all about trial and error. Keep track of your send times and have fun testing.

Best practices are very useful for helping to find the best send times, but keep in mind, if you know your buyer personas and your email open and CT rates, you have the ability to create best practices that work for your company.


In the end…

Email marketing is all about trial and error and really knowing your audience. Do your research, stay on top of recent analytics and you’ll find yourself starting to really understand your leads. At the end of the day, just ask yourself if you would open your own email. If not, then it’s time to get to work.