How to Improve Your Email Marketing and Say Goodbye to Unsubscribers


How to Improve Your Email Marketing and Say Goodbye to Unsubscribers

Email marketing might sound old school next to social media marketing and video content, however email marketing is as relevant as ever. According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter, which is why it isn’t time to step away from this strategy just yet.

If you are not seeing an ROI from your email marketing you may just need to tweak a few things in order for it to be successful. This article will give some tips on how to send out emails which your customers will read, reduce your number of unsubscribers and start seeing a return.


Personalisation of emails used to mean inserting a [name] tag into the subject line which would input the subscribers name, making them feel as if the email is for them; conversely a recent survey by Lyris revealed that 63% of consumers report that they now receive so many messages that use their name that it no longer has any impact. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still use their names or that personalisation is a waste of time, it just requires more thought.

Imagine you are an 18 year old subscriber to an attraction’s mailing list and you receive an email about their fantastic OAP discount. It’s irrelevant, time wasting and unsuccessful. Segmentation is a fantastic way to ensure the right customers are getting the relevant marketing material.

Split your subscribers into different segments Email Monday gives these examples:

  • Preferences (the likes and dislikes of a user)
  • Demographics and profile (age, location, gender)
  • Psychographics (What will they be prone to do and react to?)
  • Behaviour (purchases, opens, clicks, website browsing, etc.)

By doing this you are targeting information and items at people more likely to interact and, as a result, you will keep more of your subscribers and perhaps increase click-through rates and conversions. ‘Segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue’ DMA, 2015.


Source: DMA

Make an impact in the subject line

Subject lines are probably the most important element of an email, so in an inbox full of emails, you need yours to stand out among the masses.

Firstly, the character length. You may have been lead to believe that the more detail you put into the subject line the better, as it gives more information and builds trust; however, subject lines have a character limit and going over can result in truncation, the end being cut off and replaced with an ellipsis. This means that the recipient can no longer see the full message reducing the impact and chance of opening.


Digital Donut believes you only have 15 seconds to make an impression with your subject line when emailing adults and this time decreases the younger the audience is. This means that subject lines should be concise, but not too short, as you will not inspire readers to open it. The table below shows the open and click rate for emails that have subject lines in different character bands giving the optimum length to achieve the highest click rate and open rate.


Source: Digital Donut

According to these results the optimum character band is between 28-39, encouraging 12.2% to open and 4% to click. The emails with subject lines of 4-15 characters had the highest open rate, but the low click rate suggests that a subject line of little length cannot properly reflect the contents of the email.

Secondly, try A/B testing. This is where two different subject lines are tested for each email campaign. This will allow you to see what language is more appealing, the length that your recipients prefer, the style of subject line, etc. Once you have this information from a few campaigns you can collect the data and provide yourself with a winning subject line formula.

Clear call to action

A call to action (CTA) is an instruction to the audience, or in this case the email recipient, to provoke an immediate response. This includes ‘call now’, ‘shop now’, ‘read more’ and so on.

Without these emails are essentially pointless, there must be a business reason behind the email you are sending or else it is a waste of time. If the purpose is for your clients/customers to read your latest blog post ‘read more’ is still a call to action.

According to WordStream a single clear call to action in emails can increase clicks by 371% and sales 1617%.

The below is an example taken from a Boots email, the call to actions are not clear and appear as part of the text, not inspiring a click.


This is an example of a part of a Zizzi email and clearly displays the call to action buttons in different colours, clearly distinguishable from the rest of the text and the email.


Quick tips for CTA buttons on emails:

  • Don’t be afraid to try different shaped buttons
  • Make sure the text is large and legible
  • Give careful consideration to colour: take a look at this Kissmetric infographic on colour psychology
  • Less is more, make sure you don’t include too many buttons in a single email

Go Easy on the images

Your biggest priority when setting up an email campaign may be to ensure it is visually appealing, however, ask yourself, are the images as important as the message you are trying to get across? Probably not.

Although it is our instinct to add a lot of great, eye-catching imagery to our emails, readability and compatibility must be considered. Some of the most used email providers, such as Outlook, don’t always allow images through and will make the recipient right click to download the images.


ASOS, for example, are a popular, established fashion brand who focus on being very visual to appeal to their target audience, millennials. Whilst trying to appeal to this audience, and ensure their emails are visually appealing, they have neglected their message which cannot be made out without the images being displayed.


Source: Hubspot

Hubspot compared the click through rates for different types of email and found, ‘For the plain-text vs. HTML template with images test, the HTML email version had a 21% lower click through rate, and combined with the open rate the email had 51% fewer clicks’ meaning the images actually deterred the recipient from clicking on parts of the email.

Images can also slow the load time of emails which, if your recipient usually checks their emails on the morning commute between tunnels on the train, they are not going to wait for them to load, meaning it will probably stay buried in their inbox until the next campaign is sent.

It is recommended that emails should keep a 60% text, 40% image ratio to ensure maximum click-through rates are achieved.

Mobile friendly

As stated by Yesmail, more than 50% of all email opens are happening on mobile devices and mobile email clicks account for 58%t of all email clicks for brands using responsive design with all of their email marketing efforts.

This is why it is now more important than ever to ensure your emails look good and are readable on both desktop and mobile devices. 80% of people will delete an email if it does not look good on a mobile device, no matter the content.


Source: Litmus

Email software such as Mailchimp is free to use up to a certain number of subscribers and gives you the option of previewing your email on desktop, tablet and mobiles whilst it is being built. This function means that you can see exactly what your recipients will receive in their inbox and can adapt it suitably, for example, you can make sure that it’s possible make out the images and ensure the call to action is big enough. This step is vital if you want to avoid your emails being deleted from your recipients’ inboxes before they are even read.


Mobile preview mode in Mailchimp.

No spamming allowed

Email marketing is most marketers ‘go to’ option for campaigns, but if all your efforts are ending up in someone’s spam folder it makes the time spent putting the content together and sending out the emails a waste of time. There are things that you can do to make sure you stay out of the junk and land safely in their inbox.

Avoid the spammy content

You may not intentionally be writing in a way that can be deemed spammy, but that doesn’t mean that email providers will treat you any differently from genuine spam.

Firstly you should avoid some of the more spam-like words that these filters pick up on:

  • Bonus
  • Clearance
  • Benefit
  • 100% free
  • Click here
  • Act now
  • Bargain

This isn’t to say that these words are banned in their entirety, just use them with caution.

Watch your punctuation, don’t use exclamation marks in marketing email subject lines and avoid using them in the body as well if you can. If you think you are safe using all caps instead of an exclamation mark you would be wrong, it seems the spam filters don’t think customers and clients should be shouted at and therefore it must be spam.

Don’t overdo it

Sending too many emails won’t necessarily land you in the spam folder but may give the recipient the impression that you are spamming them (annoying them) and cause them to unsubscribe.

You may be excited about your content, have a fantastic offer you want to shout about, or want to remind your customers about a new product, however it is guaranteed that they will not be as excited as you are. The number one reason people marked emails as spam was because the company was emailing too often.



Subscribers also commented that the top way brands could improve their email marketing was to lessen the frequency of sending emails. The graphs below show that the more emails sent per week the more likely the recipient is to complain and the less engaged they are.


Source: Return Path

An example of a company over doing their emails is My Protein, although they give a lot of great offers, they sometimes email twice a DAY. This type of activity will see more people unsubscribing and engaging less with their content meaning they are missing out on sales.

‘If subscribers become annoyed with the volume of email from your brand, they have several options for dealing with the situation. Perhaps the most likely action is no action—they will simply start ignoring your email, leading to a less engaged subscriber list’ Return Path.


There is no perfect number of emails that a brand should send, it depends on industry, season and what the content is. Best practice based on the statistics above would suggest limiting monthly emails to 3-5 per month.

If you need help with your email marketing, or you would like some advice on how to get the most back from your efforts, contact Receptional today.

Gemma Flinders

Digital Marketing Consultant

Gemma joined Receptional having previously worked as a marketing manager for a hair salon chain. She now works on PR, link building and SEO for a number of Receptional’s B2B and B2C clients. When she is away from her desk Gemma can be found writing for her lifestyle blog, wearing black and eating pizza.

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