There’s plenty of evidence that it does – and also plenty of evidence that it doesn’t!

The question is a bit like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’  There’s no simple answer.

A better question might be ‘how can I make email marketing work?’

And here are my top 10 tips to improve your success rate:

  1. Know your audience. The more you know about the people you’re trying to influence the better your content will be.  Understand their problems, their dreams and goals and that will guide what you deliver to them.
  2. Be clear about your purpose. If you’re sending an email campaign, you must have a clear goal in mind.  What do you want your reader to do when they’ve read your message(s)?
  3. Don’t swamp people with sales: Think about how you feel when you get daily emails selling you something – you either delete or unsubscribe.  Plan your campaign carefully to spread the message.  If there’s an event or closing day, then by all means do a countdown – usually the last few days you can get away with emails on D-Day minus 5, 4, 2, 1.
  4. Spend time on your subject lines. Your subject line is the equivalent to a headline.  It’s the trigger to get people to open and read your message.  Pain and gain both work well (Are you suffering from … problem or The secret of … [big result]).  Refer back to tip 1 to really hone your subject lines to your target audience.
  5. Deliver genuine value. People aren’t idiots so pretending that your offer is limited numbers, has an end date or is a price drop (when it isn’t) are only going to damage your reputation.  Always present your offer in terms of benefits – what’s in it for me? (WIIFM)
  6. Choose the right image. An image brings your text to life – but when you’re trying to promote something it must be the RIGHT image.  It’s not visual candyfloss, it must work to help you to get the message across.  If you’re promoting a product it’s easier as you will have professional shots of your product – or someone using it (won’t you?)
  7. Speak your reader’s language. That doesn’t mean pepper your text with jargon, but it does mean writing copy that shows you get their challenges and why they are keeping them awake at night and that what you’re offering will solve their problem. 
  8. Keep it conversational. The best email marketers use a conversational style – as though they are talking directly to the reader.  Imagine that your ideal client is right in front of you and you were talking directly to them – and write that.
  9. Don’t forget a clear call to action. Tell people what to do next and make it easy for them to do that.  That means a live link – ideally as a button (links embedded in text can be hard to use on a smartphone).  If you want them to phone you – put the phone number right after you’ve asked them to do that.  In a perfect world you will have a dedicated number, but even if you don’t make sure everyone who might answer the phone is aware of the campaign and can answer questions and convert enquiries to sales.
  10. Don’t add anything after your call to action. This is a common mistake – some people think that, if people don’t take action you need a secondary offer.  However, all that does is downgrade potential enquiries to a lower level of action.  S.s do work well, but they need to be a second call to action for the SAME offer, not offer an alternative.

Happy email marketing!