Since the advent of the Internet—how long ago that was—ease of communication, connectivity, and audience reach has made business practices much easier. Take e-mail marketing, for example.

Nowadays, seeing your digital inbox filled with mail from subscriptions is common. These could range from advertising tactics to promotional material or even feedback request for their services. But how do you measure the success of your email campaign? By checking how many engagements or responses you solicited out of a few hundred thousand or a few millions? Sure, that’s an easy way.

How do you guarantee that your emails are opened, read, and answered? By knowing what makes email marketing effective.

What You Could Be Doing Right

Subject. The moment a recipient gets your email, they first see either of two things: sender or subject. From there, it’s already a make-or-break scenario since 35 percent of recipients open mails based solely on the subject line. You need to have a good and appropriate one—ideally, something attention-grabbing and interest-piquing.

Imagine receiving an email with the subject “EMERGENCY” (yes, emphasis on the capital letters), only to find out you’ve been misled. Will you trust the brand that sent that the next time around?

Content. Of course, if you want people to read what’s on your email, you need to have content. It’s the meat of the matter, after all. And what guarantees that yours is read? By providing quality content. But what separates mediocre from great?

For one, not having typographical and/or grammar mistakes is a big step. The same basic errors that get blogs and websites readership are also harmful for emails. Another is how you make your point; whether it is simple or gimmicky, long or short, or straightforward or not, you must convey your message across. Because really, who wants a meaningless email?

Wit. Wit is always sexy. And funny if done very well. Regardless of context, anything that makes your readers smile, like a well-loved pop culture reference, a laughable joke, or a good pun are always appreciated. Plays on words, humor, and wit are good tricks to start—and end—your emails with.

Showing a human side. You’re running an email campaign because you have a cause you want people to know about—in this case, a business. And your organization is made up of humans, each with distinct personalities. Just because you’re not face-to-face with your customers doesn’t mean you can’t show them what makes you human and relatable.

Another personality you need to let shine through is that of your business. Your brand is a foothold to trust, and making readers see how your brand acts and distinguishes itself from competitors is a testament of your drive to better your business for the sake of your customers.

What You Could Be Doing Wrong

Constant emailing. In the same way that overexposing yourself to work will stress you out and make you more likely to crash and burn, readers who find themselves reading your content around the clock are more prone to burnout. In turn, they just read other people’s stuff—or worse, unsubscribe and never return.

Bottom line: be timely with your e-mails.

Lack of emails. On the other end of the spectrum, sending too few e-mails is just as detrimental for your cause. In the first place, could you even call it a campaign if you only send out one piece every few months? Apart from making yourself forgettable, you’re also falling behind your competitors.

Bottom line: balance and consistency. If you have a calendar of posts, stick to it. And make sure you have the content down pat.

Preheaders. You’ve got a small space in your readers’ inboxes as it is, so you’ve got to maximize every pixel. Even if you have an awesome subject, take note of your “preheaders,” the space provided as a preview of sorts into your email.

If yours is just a duplicate of your subject, then you’re wasting an opportunity for a two-pronged approach to seal the deal. Be creative. Give context and a deeper understanding of your email’s body. That kind of dedication and attention to detail is uncommon, and your readers will appreciate it more.

Bots. To make it clear, there’s nothing wrong with automation. But when it reaches the point that your readers are receiving mails from a “noreply” domain, then you lose any sense of actual communication and humanization. From the name itself, people are already warned that a reply to the domain will not go through. Sure, readers will open it, but they will not engage with it.

What You Could Do Next

With a few tweaks, your email marketing campaigns can potentially be the strongest candidate you have for a more-than-decent strategy. But if you think that an email got the customer to invest more into your business, then you’re only seeing half of the picture.

If you’ve lasted long as a business, then other factors that got your customer to open your e-mail, read through it, and buy into your offer, apart from the great content, clean layout, etc., are brand trust and loyalty. Commanding those will make any business campaign soar with stellar results.

When you realize how integrated your business is into your customers’ lives, you’re in worlds other businesses could only dream of. Trust is something that few organizations ever really get to earn and enjoy. If you have, you’re lucky. But don’t just rely on luck. You got their trust because of your efforts. Don’t let up. Continue headstrong. What’s there to lose?


Acunzo, Jay. “6 Horrific Practices of Direct Mail (and What Great Email Marketers Do Instead).” HubSpot. October 7, 2013. 

Baer, Jay. “15 Email Statistics That Are Shaping the Future.” Convince & Convert

Bourn, Jennifer. “11 Email Marketing Worst Practices.” Bourn Creative. March 25, 2014.

Bourn, Jennifer. “10 Ways Email Marketing Can Help Your Business Grow.” Bourn Creative. January 14, 2014. 

Daly, Jim. “40 Tips for Dramatically Better Emails.” Vero. December 7, 2015.

Heuvel, Allie Vanden. “5 Awful Email Marketing Tactics (That People Still Do).” HubSpot. May 14, 2014. 

Kolowich, Lindsay. “15 of the Best Email Marketing Campaign Examples You’ve Ever Seen.” HubSpot. August 26, 2016. 

Lee, Kate Kiefer. “15 Email Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.” Forbes. October 15, 2012. 

Lee, Kevan. “8 Effective Email Marketing Strategies, Backed by Science.” Buffer. October 8, 2013. 

Schreiber, Danny. “Experts Weigh In: 21 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid.” Zapier.  

About the Author: Rick Enrico is the CEO and Founder of SlideGenius, a presentation design agency from San Diego, California. He regularly publishes expert presentation tips on the SlideGenius Blog. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.