If you’re running email marketing campaigns, chances are you’re grappling with the same issue as 54% of marketers out there – how to increase engagement rates.

Email marketing can be far more nuanced than it first appears. Especially since as technology evolves, so do consumers’ expectations. I drilled down into the details of this evolution in a series of podcasts where I chatted about how mastering the details can make you the email marketing guru your business really needs.

Here’s a rundown some of the key details I touched on, and what makes them vital to email marketing success and campaign ROI.

It’s all about first impressions

Awareness-driving emails: the main goal here, when you’re first reaching out to your target, is open rates.

Sounds simple, right?

According to PR Daily, the number of worldwide emails sent and received per day stands at 205.6 billion. 66% of consumers unsubscribe from emails because they aren’t relevant, and 34% of consumers mark email marketing messages as spam.

The competition for their very narrow, very self-interested attention? That’s very real. So how do you avoid that dreaded red “spam” flag?  Through personalization, relevancy, and brevity.


You want to catch the consumers’ attention, which means standing out among all the other email they’re receiving.

Personalizing subject lines and addressing the recipient is a baseline expectation in today’s world, frankly. Mentioning company names, first (or last) names, and the consumers’ roles are good ways to pique their interest, but they’re worth very little without relevant content to back them up.


As the statistics above indicate, we live in a time of email – and information – overload.

Go one step further when personalizing and ask yourself: What’s your reader’s role?  What are the day-to-day hurdle or headaches they face? And most importantly, how can your content help them solve these pain points?

The main reasons people will engage with your content is because it entertains or helps them. By ensuring your content is relevant, you’ll please your readers and see your engagement levels soar.


With the sheer amount of content available online and being delivered to consumers, people don’t have the time to read through everything that lands in their inbox. Everybody skims – which means your content needs to be brief, concise and easy on the eyes.

How to avoid TL;DR (see what we did there?): Embrace bullet points and short highlights.

The old rules don’t apply

Despite what many would-be direct marketing guides may say, the rules on subject lines – your number one attention-grabbers – are constantly changing.

For instance? The use of emojis in email marketing messages increased 775% between 2015 and 2016. Why? Because, well, they work. And when something works, it tends to re-write the rules.

Staying current with changes like this isn’t impossible, but the only way to know what works for your audience is to constantly test and measure your campaigns.

Another rule that’s changed over time? Don’t be afraid to make your emails appealing – even in B2B – by using images.

As email becomes more interactive and fun across the board, recipients expect to receive more than a B&W, text-only email. Using design templates, images, or videos may very easily drive up your engagement rates – but you won’t know until you try by testing to see what design approaches work best with different email types and audiences.

The news on newsletters?

Newsletters, like email marketing in general, are indispensable to marketers of all types. For example? In B2B content marketing, 77% of companies surveyed used email newsletters to support content efforts – and 40% said email newsletters were the most critical tactic in their content marketing.

As a marketer, you want to ensure that your audience is engaged with (and hopefully enjoying) the content you’re sending. There are two basics to cover if you can make sure your newsletters are having the impact you’re aiming for: frequency and (again!) personalization.


Segmenting your audience within an email marketing campaign is a necessity. With newsletters, as with drip campaigns or any other email marketing, figuring out the optimal frequency for each segment is key.

Each recipient will have a different threshold, and the frequency of your emails must be tweaked accordingly. If you send weekly messages to a consumer who wants to hear from you once a month, they’ll be quick to unsubscribe.  One way to make sure your frequency is right? Give them the chance to control it by tweaking send settings during the opt-in or onboarding process.


Executing the perfect newsletter campaign demands you build datasets and mine insights based on engagement levels within newsletter content. That’s how you comprehend what different segments – or even different individuals – are responding to best.

Setting up separate newsletter campaigns tailored to different audiences and optimizing them as your database expands will result in higher engagement and fewer unsubscribes or (unfortunately, it even happens with opt-ins) the dreaded spam flaggings.

Hear more on the podcast

For more on writing and executing email marketing campaigns that drive real business results, listen to me on  Part 2 of the “Email Week” series on the Martech Podcast with Benjamin Shapiro.

~Tracy, Head of Marketing