Top Tips for Optimizing Email Campaign Performance

Top Tips for Optimizing Email Campaign Performance by James Glover.  Available from <> [July 12, 2017]

While email continues to outperform every other digital marketing channel, email marketers must go beyond standard best practices to drive the best results. Coherent Path CEO James Glover explores three key areas to focus on now for immediate campaign performance optimization

The Direct Marketing Association has found that email marketing has an ROI of 3800 percent, while Salesforce’s “New 2016 State of Marketing Research Report” noted that “80 percent of marketers agree that email is core to their business.” With email outperforming every other digital marketing channel, the need to optimize email campaign performance remains high. While there are common practices that most email marketers employ to ensure their programs are successful – like basic segmentation, designing for mobile and including a call to action –  room to improve remains.

There are three key areas that email marketers can focus on now to immediately see campaign performance optimization:


Eighty-one percent of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of targeted email while 74 percent of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.

And yet, most email marketers tend to rely on the same tactics that have previously worked, grouping consumers together in segments based on rules – such as having previously purchased within a particular category – rather than using their customer data to tailor email outreach to different types of customers and further segment and improve their email marketing strategy over the long-haul. In a recent Coherent Path survey, 85 percent of email marketers confirmed that they are relying too heavily on what worked last year, with a majority leaning on major events and holidays (87%), rather than thinking about each individual’s actual interests.

Email marketers need to move away from the traditional batch-and-blast, one-size-fits-all approach and embrace a customer-centric one that caters to the evolving tastes of each individual customer. This can be done by using their data to develop content and expose parts of their product catalog that customers will find interesting.

This, of course, can be tricky. Consider, for example, that any sub-category, such as handbags, on average, appeals to roughly 10 percent of a given population, moderately appeals to another 10 percent and mildly turns off 80 percent. So, while 20 percent will engage, 80 percent will have a negative reaction for receiving something they’re not interested in. If email marketers can find the right categories within their product catalog to showcase to that other 80 percent, they’d never send an unengaging email again, because they’d be reaching out to each customer with only the product categories and brands that most interest that person. By changing up the theme to one that really appeals to smaller populations, email marketers can excite a very targeted audience, lifting sales and engagement in the long run, rather than pushing one product to a larger population that is mostly uninterested. Better results can be achieved by focusing on relevance to each of your customers.


Rather than viewing each email as existing on its own in a vacuum, email marketers should take a holistic view where every email is part of a content diet that they’re serving to each customer. Just like most people don’t want to limit their daily food selections to a couple of items only, consumers don’t want to be served the same types of emails repeatedly (how boring!). Serving up a lack of variety content-wise fails to recognize their evolving interests and tastes… and will result in email fatigue – tuning, or even opting, out of the emails you work so hard to create.

An email marketer’s job is to use what they do know about each customer to help them continue to select the right mix of content, providing a balanced content diet that nourishes them. One way to do this effectively is for email marketers to embrace technology that’s designed to help make sense of their data and provide recommendations on what each customer is likely to be interested in next. This enables email marketers to keep up with their customers’ constantly changing preferences, while keeping customers interested and engaged through the variety of products and categories featured. In a noisy inbox, this can make all the difference.


All email marketers know the saying “You only have one chance to make a first impression” is true and therefore understand the importance of a catchy subject line, since that’s the first thing people see. But what may have worked best in the past – promoting a discount – isn’t as effective as it used to be. According to research from Yes Lifecycle Marketing, emails from brands with special offers in their subject lines tend to underperform when compared to those without them. In fact, emails without explicit offers in their subject lines have 28 percent higher open rates with the exception of loyalty incentive offers, which have a nine percent higher open rate, 20 percent higher click rate, and 12 percent higher CTO rate than emails with subject lines without offers.

So, rather than relying on discounting as a way to capture a consumer’s attention, email marketers need to instead refocus. In an inbox inundated with similar messages, how can a brand stand out? By focusing on quality content. Keep it short and focus in on the value it offers the individual. In addition, be sure to test subject lines to see what works best.

Along with these critical focus areas, email marketers need to also incorporate the following best practices to optimize email campaign performance:


Rather than approaching email themes with a set plan in mind (e.g. ‘we’re going to send out an email about women’s shoes on Thursday), email marketers should let their audience guide them. Test sends play a huge role in audience selection and providing real-time, data-driven feedback as to whether an email theme will resonate with a specific audience. Far too often, retailers have a view of a certain product and how people are going to react to it based on transactional history and other static metrics, but people aren’t buying the same products again and again – and tastes and moods evolve over time. Additionally, the same email theme can perform very differently based on the subject line, creative, whether there is a discount or incentive, and a host of other factors. With the constantly evolving appetite of consumers, continual testing is key to staying relevant, keeping the audience engaged and understanding in advance what will really resonate.

Reuse email

Retailers invest large amounts of time and resources in developing a single email representing one product category only to never resend that email again, creating more work and leaving money on the table. This is a big mistake, as is being discouraged by low open rates.

Instead, take a look at the click-through rates. If it’s high, even among a smaller audience, re-mail it. Email marketers should leverage what they already have to extend the lifespan of every piece of content and maximize the revenue each asset brings in.

Finding the Right Cadence

A Mapp Digital survey found that 40 percent of respondents prefer to receive marketing emails once a week. According to the aforementioned Coherent Path survey, 46 percent of email marketers are sending 3-4 emails each week, followed by 43 percent, who were sending 1-2 emails per week. While this isn’t cause for alarm, email marketers must remain cognizant of how many emails they’re sending vs. how many emails their email list is engaging with. It may be that three emails a week is working, or maybe that this number should be pared down. Whatever the case may be, email marketers must make sure it’s based on what their audience wants, not a pre-determined marketing metric.

By prioritizing these focus areas and best practices, email marketers can turn up the effectiveness of their campaigns immediately to drive higher ROI from their efforts. Customers will respond positively to the content that’s more clearly tailored to them, versus the bucket they’ve typically been grouped in, while brands benefit from a more engaged customer base that’s eager for the next email.

Top Tips for Optimizing Email Campaign Performance by James Glover.  Available from <> [July 12, 2017]