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Five steps to email marketing success

Five steps to email marketing success

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Five steps to email marketing success
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Five steps to email marketing success

Who doesn’t love a list? If you don’t maybe go burn some money, or whatever else it is that you oddballs like to do. Here’s our paint-by-numbers guide to making your email marketing program a success.

#1 Devising your email marketing strategy

Defining a clear vision is essential for setting up an email marketing channel for your business. There’s little value in collecting data if you aren’t going to do anything with it.

Firstly, it’s important to define what you want to achieve:

Are you looking to engage with your existing customers?

Do you want to nurture leads?

Or perhaps it’s a combination of the two.

It can be as simple as a weekly newsletter, or as sophisticated as setting up an automated program for renewals. The key is consistency. The moment you lapse and stop sending for a few weeks or months, you become unreliable and easy to forget.

It’s important to have enough content to power your email program for at least one quarter at a time, whether you’re sending weekly or monthly. Creating enough relevant, evergreen content is not only good to power the machine, but it also means you can recycle it further down the lifecycle.

Once you have your goal, it’s time to think about your content and the subscriber journey:

  • What kind of content are you sharing? Think blogs, case studies, product pages etc.
  • Will you treat more engaged subscribers differently?
  • Are you keeping in touch with a newsletter or are you creating a specific sales funnel?

There’s a lot to plan, but the clearer you are about it, the easier it will be to map out what you need.

#2 Template essentials

Hubspot lists these 12 best practice essentials for your email templates:

  1. Craft a strong subject line
  2. Write an attention-grabbing preheader
  3. Be concise
  4. Keep your email on-brand
  5. Utilise the layout to enhance your email’s user experience
  6. Personalise every email
  7. Incorporate unique visual content
  8. Don’t be afraid to use emojis
  9. Use a responsive design
  10. Optimise your email with calls-to-action
  11. Add an “unsubscribe” button
  12. A/B test your design

A few things to avoid in your emails:

  • Attachments! Instead, host that PDF on your website and link to it. Reason being spam filters detect this to be suspicious activity.
  • Keep your email concise: long emails will truncate (in layman’s terms: the content won’t display after a certain point, which looks unprofessional). Remember: the digital attention span for email is less than 10 seconds!
  • Broken links: make sure you test all your links are working before you send an email, and that they’re going to where you expect.

#3 Best practice for subject lines

You’ve no doubt seen some shockers in your time. You’ve likely seen some good ones that intrigue you. A lot are somewhere in the middle though.

Let’s start with some of the recommendations of what works (according to Hubspot’s observations):

  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Use personalisation tokens.
  • Segment your lists.
  • Do tell them what’s inside.
  • Use concise language.
  • Start with action-oriented verbs.
  • Make people feel special.
  • Create a sense of importance.
  • Use numbers.
  • Pose a compelling question.
  • Don’t be afraid to get punny.
  • Combine with some engaging preview text.
  • A/B test your subject lines

#4 Testing, 1 2 3…

Avoid embarrassing typos, dead links and designs that don’t render properly by testing (or visually proofing) your campaigns. All reputable email marketing platforms will have something built in that shows how your email renders in a number of popular email clients, devices and browsers. It also doesn’t hurt to have a look yourself.

Testing your email campaigns in Litmus

In addition to how it looks, make sure you’re clicking all those links to make sure they’re working and going where you intend.

Lastly, it’s a great idea to get a fresh set of eyes over your work. So ask someone else who hasn’t previously seen it to cast an eye. They will be more likely to spot mistakes or if something doesn’t look quite right.

#5 Can’t decide on something? There’s a split test for that!

As the cheesy anecdote goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results. Similarly, you should aim to keep things fairly consistent with your emails. But with both those sentiments, how do you know specifically what is and isn’t working? Easy: by split testing.

We recommend testing one variable at a time. That could be link colours, buttons vs. text links, from names, content length, images. The list is endless! But it’s essential you keep it one at a time so that you can know with confidence what effected the result.

You can find out more about split testing with Hubspot here.

The age old question: when should I send my emails??

“In general, the highest click-to-open rates are 10 AM, at 21%, 1 PM, at 22.5%, and have seen a spike at near 6 PM. The data reflects when most audiences begin or conclude their day and have the most time to check their emails.”


Depending on the purpose of your marketing, have a think about when you’re most likely to give your inbox some attention. Chances are you’ll look at your personal emails at different times to work ones. Factor this in when you schedule or send your emails and monitor the results (and of course, test send times too!).

What KPIs to use?

Your email marketing platform of choice should give you a pretty decent dashboard of the results from your campaigns. It’s subjective, to an extent, what stats you and your business find more important and beneficial to report on. That said, some of the crucial ones are:

  • Database hygiene (new subscribers vs. unsubscribes)
  • Click through rate
  • Web traffic and conversions

Looking at industry benchmarks are a great way to measure how your campaigns are performing comparatively.


To operate a successful email marketing program, planning your strategy and analysing your results are crucial. A bit like your website, planning your subscribers experience and journey are also really important factors.

If you’re thinking about stepping up your email marketing, leave your details below and we will be in touch to discuss.

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Six simple steps to build a compliant database

Six simple steps to build a GDPR compliant database

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Six simple steps to build a compliant database
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Six simple steps to build a GDPR compliant database

Email marketing is dead. No, it’s alive. Actually it’s dead. Whatever. Email marketing isn’t going anywhere, so let’s end that debate here and now.

With an informed strategy behind it, email marketing can be your very best asset. It can:

  • Nurture leads to paid up customers
  • Create sales opportunities
  • Keep your customers engaged with your business
  • Drive web traffic

But that’s just the thing. It needs to be done well. If you send random emails as and when you like, to people who don’t know your business, full of typos, broken links and a whole host of other catastrophes, it can be a lethal weapon (cue 80s hair and saxophone music).

If email isn’t your jam, we can help. As a digital marketing agency with in-house email marketing nerds, we know our stuff.

You can’t have a successful email marketing program without a GDPR compliant database. But where to begin?

#1 CRM database

Before you can do anything, you need a compliant database home that is secure. Enter CRM systems, check your Excel spreadsheets at the door please! Many email service providers will come with something built in, and all will integrate with the big players such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

Your CRM platform should have the data fields mapped so that it collects and stores exactly what you need. This should also include the date and time that your subscribe signed up and confirmed their opt-in intention.

#2 Sign up forms

With the GDPR bursting onto the scene in May 2018, a lot changed about how you can collect, process and store data (you can read about that here). But if you start out with all the elements in place, it need not be such a headache.

First things first, make sure your form has a transparent description. Simply saying Sign up for our newsletter just won’t cut it anymore. Your wording should include:

  • Sending frequency
  • Your content
  • What you’ll be doing with any data (if it’s more than simple name and contact details)
  • Contain a link to your privacy policy
  • Have an unticked (yep, that’s important!) tick box as a statement of intent to sign up

A great example is this below from dog food brand EUKANUBA. Let’s examine:

GDPR compliant email marketing sign up form

  1. Sign up for monthly expert tips and incentives – an overview of what and when
  2. Track your dog’s development… – reason for collecting additional data (e.g. breed size and age)

When you create your form, it’s also a good time to have a think about anything extra you need to collect to run your email program. Ideally, you want your form to be quick and easy to complete, otherwise you won’t get many conversions. You can always collect more data at another time, with specific campaigns.

#3 Form placement

So you’ve got your form, now it’s time to place it. If you have just one sign up form, it is best placed in the footer of your website, as it’s easily accessible.

If you have multiple forms (e.g. for gated content downloads or to sign up to different lists perhaps), those should be embedded only on the relevant pages.

You can also consider pop ups where you have reason to believe the website visitor is primed to sign up. This could be based on session duration, pages or something else. The key here is balance, so that you don’t annoy your subscribers.

#4 Purchasing data..?

One of the biggest debates in marketing. It’s a big no no for consumer goods. It’s slightly less contentious for B2B, but you need to have a decent prospect workflow to make it work.

If you’ve made the decision that you want to buy data to bolster your lists, it is absolutely essential to make sure it is verified, compliant and up to date. We can help direct you to trustworthy database consultancy services.

#5 Keep that list clean!

Most spam laws now mean that having a double opt-in mechanism on your database is standard. This means that once a person signs up to your list they’ll receive an email asking them to click to confirm they meant to sign up. This is the first step to a sparkly, clean and compliant list. This should also mean that your subscribers have a timestamp against their confirmed sign up in your CRM platform.

Keep an eye on bounces. Most email service providers will have automated rules in place that after 2 or so bounces, email addresses will be removed from your list.

Hubspot says:

Bounce rates are one of the key factors internet service providers (ISPs) use to determine an email sender’s reputation, so having too many hard bounces can cause them to stop allowing your emails in folks’ inboxes.

Whatever you do, never ever scrape websites for email addresses. It’s really not cool and is the lowest of lows, not to mention illegal. No further explanation needed (hopefully).

You can read more about list hygiene here.

#6 Sender info

When you’re setting up your email marketing platform, you’ll be required to set a subdomain of your website. This is so that should anything go sour, it won’t affect the infrastructure of your website and internal email addresses. It’s usually a case of appending “newsletter.domain” or something similar.

Not only this but it’s really important to set up an inbox where you can receive replies to your marketing – automated and actual responses. Make sure it’s not someone’s existing email address for reasons above, but it must be monitored. GDPR law states that manual unsubscribes are mandatory, as well as information requests (e.g. how did you get my data).

It’s really poor show, not to mention against data laws, to send using a “noreply@domain” address!


Making sure your email database is compliant really can be that simple, provided you know what to do. While it is a big task, if you break it down into these fail-safe steps, you’ll have it under control in no time.

If the thought of organising your existing database (or starting from scratch) gives you a burning feeling in the pit of your stomach, fill out your details below. And, probably go see someone about the stomach pains… it doesn’t sound healthy!

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digital inbound marketing

Inbound marketing: the basics

By Blog posts, Digitisation
Digital marketing inbound
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Inbound marketing: the basics

Inbound marketing refers to the methodology that ‘invites’ visitors to your website. So, a combination of content (such as blogs, videos etc.) and channels (e.g. social media, email and marketing automation, and conversation bots).

It requires a tight strategy that is informed by personas (based on your best or ideal customers), which should identify:

  • What your ideal customer wants to know
  • The problems they are looking to solve
  • How they are most likely to engage with a business in that industry

Here are some of the tools you could use in your inbound marketing process:

inbound marketing cycle: attract, engage and delight

What you say is important!

As is always the case, your messaging is crucial to the success of your inbound marketing efforts. Think about what you expect to learn about a business when you’re first introduced. And then think about how much (or how little) time you want to invest in the initial contact points. Chances are, your attention span and patience isn’t at its maximum.

The initial touch points should be clear and concise, positioning your business as trustworthy and a credible leader who will solve problems.

Identify your key service or product pillars and how they solve your best customer’s pain points. Next step is to consider how you can replicate that. The best way to do this is through creating user personas (this is a standard part of our research and analysis for any digital marketing project).

What’s a user persona and why does my business need to do them?

The cornerstone for a successful marketing strategy is identifying your ideal customer. You need to know how to effectively communicate with them: what you should be saying and the tone of voice.

If you haven’t created any, have a think about your best customer:

  • What is their job title?
  • How did they find you? (e.g. recommendation, google, social media, trade show)
  • How do they engage with you? Do they prefer phone calls, emails or are they avid social media users?
  • What are their main pain points, and how did your business solve them?
  • What motivates them to make a decision?
  • What kind of relationship do you have? Can you have a joke with them or is it more professional?

Through answering these questions, it’ll help you identify not only tone of voice, but the channels your best leads are most likely to engage with.

Your personas inform your content

In turn, this will help you form an idea of what your leads want to read. Rather than assuming knowledge gaps, you’ll have an educated guess as to what they know, what’s interesting and what turns them off.

It’s crucial to do your research each time you create content! If you’re going to position yourself as an industry leader, you can’t just bluff your way through. Whether it’s you, a member of your team, a digital marketing agency or a freelancer creating your content, a solid brief is essential.

Your personas will also help you decide which marketing channels to use.

The pool of marketing channels is so much larger than simply Facebook, LinkedIn, email and Google. It covers all means of communications:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Commerce
  • Apps
  • Blogs
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Press releases
  • Webinars
  • SMS marketing
  • SEO
  • PPC

And that’s just what’s available in the digital realm!

We often recommend digital content marketing over print and direct, as it’s trackable. It’s much easier to measure your ROI (return on investment) with the plethora of tools available these days than print consumption.

Drilling down on social media marketing, for example, there are many channels, all differing in approach and audience. If you’re in B2B, you’ll no doubt find LinkedIn and Twitter best for conversion than Instagram and TikTok.

For example, when we worked with Flexgenius on their new business acquisition, we approached it in the following way:

  • A series of social media campaigns on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram
  • Google PPC
  • Retargeting
  • An email strategy to nurture the new leads, converting them to enquiries

Content structure for lead generation

In addition to getting the tone of voice and the channels right for your leads, the type of content you share with them is of equal importance. Using a lead scoring tool on your website is one simple way of segmenting your leads. You can then create a marketing automation workflow based on engagement. You can create a content structure that looks something like this:


Lead score: 0 – 10 points

Content: blogs, videos, hints & tips.

Light content that doesn’t require too much time or attention. That said, it provides a good insight into who you are, what you do and how you can help them.


Lead score: 11 – 30 points

Content: whitepapers, guides, resources.

Slightly heavier content that introduces your leads to your ways of working and inspires them.


Lead score: 31 – 49 points

Content: product features, case studies

This content should showcase your success stories. Talk about how you have helped relatable customers achieve their goals.


Lead score: 50+ points

Content: pricing, demos, sales interactions, book a meeting

In theory, by this point, these leads have done a lot of research and may be ready to make a decision soon. Now is a good time to schedule a call, demo, meeting or an event where they can engage directly with your sales leads.

What about using inbound marketing in combination with paid advertising?

Digital strategy: social media ads

Both have their own merits. Having the foundations set and ready to go will serve organic and paid leads well. It means there will be plenty of content available to educate them on your offering.

Organic inbound marketing tends to be lower cost but more time intensive.

Paid advertising, as suggested in the title, will cost money. You can scale your campaigns to suit your budget, and if executed well, reaps rewards much quicker than organic marketing.

Find out how we helped Mum&You with their digital ad strategy.


Inbound marketing is a highly effective way to raise awareness of your business and generate leads, if planned and executed well. It’s essential to create customer personas first, so you know not only who to target but where and how.

Interested in taking your inbound marketing up a level?

Leave your details below and we’ll get in touch!

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