Effective E-Mail Marketing – You Pre-Send Checklist

If you’re not seeing the engagement you want, don’t panic! There are a few things you can try before sending your next campaign to improve your open rates.


Pick a name that rings a bell with your contacts, whether it’s the name of your organization, your personal name, or both. By default, the “From” name pre-populates with what’s in your account settings, but you can change it while editing an individual e-mail.


Keep your subject line short and sweet with no more than 4-7 words. Make your e-mail stand out by using descriptive words that tease the content that’s inside of the e-mail. When creating a subject line, it should speak to what your e-mail is about, what the benefit is for the recipient to open, and what action you want them to take. Posing questions like, “struggling to find the perfect gift?” are great headlines because it provokes increased thought by the recipient.  If your e-mail list is clean with first names, consider adding personalized subject lines.

Pro Tip
– Avoid spam-like characteristics that filters will catch by avoiding the use of words such as “free”, “guarantee”, “be amazed”, “your income”, “subject to credit approval”, “earn X per week”, “act now”.  Also avoid using all caps and excessive punctuation.

Your preheader is just as important.  A preheader is an additional line of text that appears below or next to the subject line in the inbox.  You can use this to provide more context and entice those receiving your e-mails to open it. Typically, preheaders can be 250 or so characters long, but that doesn’t mean that you need to use all characters.  Keeping in to 90 characters is a good practice.  The first 5-8 words in your preheader are the most important because the that’s what the recipient will be able to easily see, depending on what e-mail client the recipient is using. Every e-mail client displays preheaders differently, so be versatile and keep it short and sweet.


E-mails that are short, sweet and include a clear call-to-action increases the change that your contact will do what you’re asking them for while reading the e-mail rather than the recipient thinking, “I’ll do it later” and never get around to it. The optimal e-mail length should around 20 lines of text with 1-3 images.

Pro Tip
– Your call-to-action should be towards the top of the e-mail so it’s easy for the recipients to find when viewing your e-mail on a mobile device.


People are more likely to open, digest and engage with content that is hyper-relevant to them, so segmenting your contacts through tagging is incredibly important to maintain low-to-no unsubscribes.  If you’re a restaurant that serves tasty burgers that are sometimes on special and an incredible brunch on Sundays, your audiences will have differences.  Some will love your burger and not wait until it’s on sale to come in to enjoy, while some will wait for it to go on sale. For your brunch crowd, well they want to know what you’re serving up, what drinks may be featured, etc.  These all should be separate e-mail campaigns targeting different audiences.

Pro Tip
– Most e-mail marketing platforms offer the ability to sub-segment your audience based on individual engagement.  So, play around with sending a generalized e-mail out targeting multiple areas of your business, and categorize each into sub-segments.  When a recipient engages with a specific element of your e-mail through a click-action, they will automatically become sub-segmented because they’ve displayed special interest in that specific segment.


If you’re not deep diving into your campaign analytics, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.  Yes, it’s time consuming and yes, it can be a bit confusing but once you learn it and understand what the data is telling you, you can optimize your e-mail marketing for increased results. 

Pro Tip
– Watch your unsubscribe rates! Unsubscribing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless you’re getting a lot of unsubscribes on one e-mail. If you’re seeing an increased amount of unsubscribes, review why people are unsubscribing.  Sometimes they offer a simple “no longer interested”, or “moved out of market”.  But if you see, “I didn’t sign up for this e-mail”, that’s a huge flag that needs to be addressed.  Most e-mail marketing platforms can flag or terminate your account if they suspect your using their platform to send out mass e-mails to non-opted in audiences.

E-mail marketing is an important marketing arrow in your quiver.  It represents bottom-funnel marketing that can move your revenue needle forward.  But take your time with it! You worked so hard to build your audience, give them what they want – otherwise unsubscribes are inevitable, and no one wants that.