Mastering email marketing takes years, but focusing on just a few key tips can significantly improve your ROI.

This post is the 80/20 of the email marketing tips you need to know to increase your open rates and generate more revenue.  

The best part?

These email marketing tips are simple enough that beginner email marketers can implement them, and even more advanced marketers should still prioritize these best practices over many of the more complex yet less effective email marketing tactics.

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1. Use Proven Subject Lines 

Your emails are useless if prospects don’t click on them. 

Before optimizing the copywriting or improving the content ideas within the email, spend time improving your subject line.

While we have a separate resource that explains how to write a great headline, the best email subject line tip is to first identify the subject lines of your emails that have produced the highest open rates and then turn those subject lines into repeatable formulas. 

This strategy is effective because each audience responds slightly differently to different tones and writing styles. Therefore, looking at a list of generic headline formulas isn’t always a great approach because a headline formula that works for one audience might not work for your audience.

The only caveat to this is if you’ve only tried one style of subject line (e.g., “how to X” or “10 tips for X”), you might need to branch out and test other styles (e.g., “The ONE thing I changed to double my open rates”) before dialing in on a specific subject line formula. 

If you’re looking for subject line inspiration, sign up for your competitors’ email lists and analyze their subject line styles. You can also draw inspiration from other brands outside of your industry, though keep in mind that their audience may resonate with a different style and tone of voice.

2. Test Content Topics And Ideas

If your email marketing strategy is underperforming, altering the time of day, you send it, or the design/layout probably won’t improve your email engagement by an impactful percentage. 

The real problem is likely that people don’t want or need the content you’re sending

Unless you solve this problem, the email marketing tips we’ll discuss below won’t help.

The best email marketing tip to increase your open rates is to send content the receiver wants

If your content is so good that readers are looking for your email in their inbox, you can overlook many common email marketing best practices, like optimizing your subject line or the time of day you send your emails because your loyal fans just love your content.

For example, I love Ed from Film Booth’s content. I rarely even read the subject line and just click on any email I see from him because I know that the value he delivers in the email is always amazing. 

Of course, creating great content for your emails requires a lot of effort, and there isn’t a single strategy for creating great content. 

However, I’ve noticed that the email content I find most engaging usually has these characteristics in common:

  1. The email itself delivers the value: You don’t have to click a link in the email to receive value. Sure, there might be a link where you can click to learn more, but you still receive value from the email itself rather than just a list of links.
  2. It includes a story: Email marketing is a fairly personal marketing channel. The more you can insert your own voice/opinions/experiences or those of others, the more original, relatable, and entertaining the content will be. If you’re writing emails for a brand, you can use storytelling and case studies and speak from the brand’s experience.

Note: The point of growing an email list is to eventually sell them something and earn revenue. Therefore, it’s okay to send the occasional email exclusively designed to sell. However, keep the value-to-ask ratio at roughly 5:1

If you want to check out some examples of stellar email content, here are a few examples of newsletters I subscribe to and frequently open:

Also, track the topics of your most successful emails. For example, we’ve noticed that our emails discussing social media strategies tend to produce higher open rates and engagement than our emails discussing copywriting. 

Therefore, we should send more emails that focus on social media strategies. 

3. Segment Your List

If you write to everyone, your content won’t resonate with anyone. One of the best ways to improve email engagement is to segment your audience and then only send content that the avatar subscribed to a particular segment of your email list will enjoy.

Some specific ways you can segment your audience include:

  • By topic/interest: If your niche is photography, you could segment your lists by different topics within the photography niche. For example, you could create a lead magnet on selecting the best lens and another one on the best gimbal tips. People who download the gimbal tips are clearly interested in gimbals, and you could, therefore, pitch gimbal products exclusively to that email list. This also makes your list very valuable from a monetization standpoint, as gimbal companies would prioritize partnering with you because your list is hyper-targeted to people who own gimbals rather than general photography.
  • By buyer education/awareness level: Some people reading your content may be beginners or in the early stages of their journey. If you have a photography website, you could have a beginner email segment and a lead magnet like “10 tips to choose the best camera.” You could also have a lead magnet to attract more advanced photographers like, “5 advanced composition techniques.”  

By segmenting your list, you can send content that is more relevant to that avatar, which will increase engagement and build a stronger relationship with your readers.Additionally, you can avoid pitching products that aren’t a great fit for them and save your “ask” emails for products and services that are relevant to them (which will result in higher conversion rates). Another bonus is that it’s often easier to develop email marketing ideas if you segment your email list because you’ll know exactly what kind of content people want.

Additionally, you can avoid pitching products that aren’t a great fit for them and save your “ask” emails for products and services that are relevant to them (which will result in higher conversion rates). Another bonus is that it’s often easier to develop email marketing ideas if you segment your email list because you’ll know exactly what kind of content people want.    

4. Evaluate Your Email Capture Strategy

Once you’ve defined various segments, the next step is increasing total email signups for each segment. 

In addition to executing SEO and content marketing to attract more traffic to your website, you can leverage a few specific strategies to increase the total number of visitors to your website. 

First, evaluate the value of your lead magnets and consider testing different lead magnets. 

For example, if you are trying to grow a “beginner wedding photographers” email segment, you might test the following lead magnets:

  • 10 tips for beginner wedding photographers
  • 5 step checklist to bring to your first wedding shoot
  • Checklist of the best camera settings for every type of wedding shot

Then, you can see which lead magnet is most successful. Once you know what topics resonate best with your audience, you can create more lead magnets (and general content) related to that topic.

In addition to testing the lead magnet itself, you can also test where you position it on your website to increase downloads and collect more emails.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Place the CTA on all relevant blog posts on the sidebar
  • Include an exit CTA pop-up to subscribe
  • Place the CTA inside the blog post

At Copyblogger, we have an exit pop-up for a general (we could definitely up our game by segmenting this and testing new lead magnets):

We also have the same CTA for the general lead magnet in the sidebar of our blog posts:

HubSpot is also a great example of a brand that optimizes for email signups by offering relevant lead magnets on each of their blog posts. For example, this blog post on writing better blog headlines includes a lead magnet for a related topic (blog post templates). The CTA itself is also well optimized as it’s clearly visible in a contrasting color.

You’ll also notice that the CTA mentions the benefit the reader will receive (save time creating blog posts) by downloading the templates. Therefore, you can also optimize your CTAs to always state the benefit. 

Your email marketing efforts will be significantly more effective if you have more (relevant) email subscribers. After optimizing your website in tip number four, the next best method to increase email subscribers is to collaborate with other brands and cross-promote your email list.

The first step to collaborating with others is identifying who you should collaborate with.

As you’re analyzing different potential partners, here are the most important things to consider:

  • Do they have my ideal target audience? (This is the most important)
  • Is their audience loyal and engaged?
  • Do they have a similar-sized audience? (This isn’t always as important. Cross-promoting with a larger newsletter, assuming the audience is relevant and loyal, is obviously best. Yet even collaborating with a smaller email list that has a loyal audience is often worthwhile.)

To find potential partners to collaborate, here are a few ideas:

  • Parallel brands: Your customers are also customers of other brands. For example, if you offer webinar software, consider partnering with an email marketing software company, as both products are often purchased in tandem. 
  • Ask your audience: One of my favorite strategies is asking your audience what other creators and brands they follow and engage with. If your current audience engages with that brand/creator, other followers of that brand/creator would likely be interested in your content. You can do this by posing the question on social media or through your email list.
  • Use SparkToro: This is an audience research tool. You can type in any keyword, and it shows you the most popular podcasts, subreddits, social media influencers, and other media publications that people searching for that topic frequently engage with. Therefore, you can reach out to those influencers, podcasts, and publications and ask to promote your newsletter to their audience.
  • Use email platform offerings: Some email platforms offer features that allow you to connect with similar newsletters and cross-promote with their audience. For example, ConvertKit offers Recommendations, and many other newsletters offer similar programs.

For example, if you sign up for Pat Flynn’s newsletter, you’ll also be prompted to sign up for similar subscribers’ email lists, like Ali Abdaal:

Another option is to sponsor a similar newsletter. For example, here at Copyblogger, we have newsletter sponsors each week.

Once you’ve locked down a sponsorship partner, you must figure out what to promote. One strategy we’ve found highly effective to earn more email subscribers is promoting your lead magnet.

For example, when Nicholas Cole sponsored the Copyblogger newsletter, he promoted his free ebook on kickstarting a career as a ghostwriter.

6. Follow Copywriting Best Practices

Earlier, we discussed the importance of excellent content ideas, though how you frame those ideas and incorporate storytelling will also impact the reader’s overall satisfaction with your content. 

Copywriting is the key to crafting a great idea into an engaging story. While it takes years to become a master in the art of copywriting, you can dramatically improve your email copywriting today by following these simple guidelines:

  • Write in the first person.
  • Include real examples of what you’re discussing.
  • Use simple language at a 5th-grade level (even if your audience is highly intelligent, clear language is always critical. Many writers use jargon when they don’t fully understand the subject themselves).
  • Understand the reader’s pain point, address it at the beginning of the email, and then craft the email to solve that pain point.
  • Include just one clear call to action. 

Of course, only some emails are going to be fully written text. Some newsletters, like Morning Brew, are primarily links to various news articles, though they still include a written paragraph or two on the story (and the occasional meme!) that makes the newsletter itself entertaining. This way, you receive value even if you never click on a single link:

While two short paragraphs may not seem very important, this witty copywriting style and tone of voice has set Morning Brew brand apart from other newsletters. So even if you’re only writing a paragraph or two about the linked-to content, take some time to level up your copywriting.

You can learn more about copywriting here on the Copyblogger website, or if you want more one-on-one help and step-by-step video courses on copywriting, you can join the Copyblogger Academy, where you’ll also have access to a network of other copywriters. 

7. Leverage Automation And Scheduling

If you don’t communicate with your audience after they sign up for your email list, they’ll probably forget your brand. If you send an email to that subscriber a week or two later, they’ll likely automatically delete it as they’ve already forgotten who you are.

To prevent this, set up a welcome email sequence so that they automatically receive an email from you as soon as they sign up for your list. For example, after they download a lead magnet, you can send them a welcome email with the lead magnet. 

Then, you can send them a welcome sequence that introduces them to some of your other content that might interest them or walk them through a mini course that teaches them a relevant skill. 

Pat Flynn has an excellent email funnel. At the end of his blog post covering how to start an email list, he includes a CTA to download his email marketing cheat sheet.

You submit your email in this form and then it gives you your cheat sheet.

Then, you’re added to a welcome email sequence that looks like this:

In addition to welcome email sequences, you can also send automated engagement email sequences. We use these within the Copyblogger Academy.

Here’s an example of what our engagement email sequence looks like:

Maintaining a consistent send schedule is also critical to keeping your brand top of mind. 

As we mentioned earlier, your audience will forget about your brand if you don’t send an email and become a staple in their inbox. 

So select a publishing schedule and then use automation to schedule your posts in advance. This will help you stay consistent as you can write your emails in batches, and it also makes it easier to optimize the time of day that you send your emails.    

8. Optimize For Mobile Devices

Most of your email subscribers probably view your emails on mobile devices, so the email design must display correctly on different screens.

Morning Brew’s emails are well-designed to display on desktop and mobile screens.

Here’s the desktop version:

And here’s the same mobile version:

Using short sentences and paragraphs is also important for mobile engagement. Even a three-sentence paragraph can look daunting on a smartphone. 

You can also use bullet points and subheaders to break up the text and make it appear less intimidating. 

It’s also important to realize that a smaller portion of your subject line will be visible on mobile than on desktop.

For example, here’s how the same emails appear on desktop and mobile:

So keep your subject lines short. 

9. Scrub Your List Regularly

Email deliverability is a major challenge for most email marketers, and one of the best ways to ensure that your emails land in your audience’s inbox is to keep engagement rates high.

In addition to publishing content your audience loves, one of the best ways to increase delivery rates is to scrub your list regularly by removing people who don’t engage with your emails.

While scrubbing your list will shrink its size, having a smaller list of engaged subscribers is better than a larger list of disengaged subscribers.

It’s also important to have your unsubscribe button visible on your emails. This prevents people from marketing your emails as spam and it leaves a good impression with subscribers who no longer want your content at the moment as they don’t feel locked into receiving emails from you.

I’ve re-subscribed to emails I previously unsubscribed to simply because the content wasn’t relevant to me at that moment in time, so leaving a good impression is essential. 

10. Double Down On What’s Working

Each audience will have slightly different preferences, and a single guide on email marketing best practices and tips can’t tell you these nuances – you have to learn what your audience wants yourself. 

Therefore, analyze your analytics to understand what content ideas, copywriting, and publishing cadence works best for your audience.

Some specific analytics to measure include:

  • Open rates: This signals subject line formulas and topics that work.
  • Click-through rates: This signals that the content and the copywriting are interesting.
  • Unsubscribes: This is helpful to know what isn’t working. There was likely a misalignment between expectations set from the subject line and the content itself.

However, the best feedback is written feedback from subscribers. Therefore, you can include polls like this one to encourage feedback:

You can also use these polls to better understand your audience’s pain points and craft content that resonates with them. For example, here’s a question entrepreneur Eric Siu includes at the end of his emails:

However, the best feedback is really written responses from subscribers. Therefore, make sure that people can reply to your emails, and actively ask subscribers to respond to your emails.

Additional Email Marketing FAQs

Here are our thoughts on a few of the most commonly asked questions about email marketing.

Is email marketing still profitable?

Email marketing is still a highly profitable marketing channel. Various studies show that the average ROI of email marketing is between $36 and $40 on every dollar spent

The only costs associated with email marketing are the platform (like ConvertKit or Beehiiv) and the copywriter/designer to create the email, whereas the revenue it can generate is limitless, depending on your product and how effectively you market to your list.

How can I be successful in email marketing?

To be successful in email marketing, master the 80/20 of the email marketing tips outlined here, including:

  1. Using proven subject lines
  2. Testing content topics and ideas
  3. Segmenting your list
  4. Evaluating your email capture strategy
  5. Cross promoting your email list
  6. Following copywriting best practices
  7. Leveraging automation
  8. Optimizing for mobile devices
  9. Scrubbing your list regularly
  10. Doubling down on what’s already working

What are the five steps of email marketing?

Here are the five steps of email marketing:

  1. Select an email platform like Beehiiv or ConvertKit 
  2. Create a lead magnet to capture emails.
  3. Place CTAs on your website to download your lead magnet
  4. Select a weekly email send schedule 
  5. Ask for feedback from your audience

How To Take Your Email Marketing To The Next Level

These tips are the 80/20 you need to know to level up your email marketing strategy and generate more revenue, but if you want to learn more advanced email marketing tactics to take your email marketing to the next level or personalized help executing these email marketing tips, consider joining the Copyblogger Academy. 

It’s a community of copywriters and other marketers and entrepreneurs on their journey to generating more revenue through marketing. You’ll have access to more than eight full courses on everything from copywriting and SEO to email marketing and personal branding. You’ll also have direct access to Tim Stoddart, a seven-figure business owner (including Copyblogger and a healthcare marketing agency), and Charles Miller, a personal branding expert who has helped several entrepreneurs grow their social media followings and turn them into seven-figure revenue streams. 

So if you want to take your marketing skills to the next level, try the Copyblogger Academy today. And if you aren’t completely satisfied, we’ll give you your money back. Join now and you’ll thank yourself a year from now for investing in yourself!