7 Keys to Effective Email Marketing

Effective email marketing requires time and effort. Sending in compelling eNewsletters to your customer’s inbox, increasing email open rates, clickthroughs and conversions entail doing best industry practices and getting the basics done right. There are a lot of email marketing factors, frequently taken for granted, that you can optimize to drive quality website traffic and boost conversions. You would be surprised to know that by giving attention to nitty-gritty details such as an email’s subject line, preheader text, plain text version, tracking URLs, links and images included, as well as by performing cross-browser email and device testing, you can improve email deliverability, audience reach, and email open rates. The key is to understand how to work with these factors so you don’t miss out on easy email marketing wins. Let’s do that now. Watch this video segment and read on about these factors below:  




Subject Line



The subject line is a one-line summary of what your email is all about. It is the first thing that a subscriber will see in the inbox and it is only deemed effective if it encourages subscriber engagement. For it to do so, the subject line must be attention-grabbing, short, descriptive, and genuine. It should not just be persuasive but should also speak the truth. Using sales terms such as save, promo, limited time, and free is not advisable as these can influence your spam score negatively, greatly affecting email deliverability. 


Preheader Text/Sub Headline



A preheader text, also known as the Johnson Box, is a summary text that is seen following a subject line when viewed in the inbox. Alongside the subject line, it also serves as a pre-screening tool because it provides a short brief of what customers can expect in an email, helping them decide if they would open it or not. A good subject line-preheader text combination can be used for subliminal advertising or as a one-line advertisement. Placing the company name together with the benefits of the products and services highlighted in an eBlast plus a straight-to-the point offer can build brand awareness in a customer’s inbox even if emails are not opened. 


How much is seen of the sub headline depends on what email client or device subscribers use so it is best to keep it simple, compelling, and short -- just between 40-50 characters. The preheader text can be an extension of the subject line as well, so these two must always be cohesive. Get better email opens by intentionally asking subscribers to take action. Adding a call-to-action (CTA) in your preheader text can do the trick.


Plain Text Version


A plain text version allows messages to load faster in email browsers as it does not contain images nor pretty fonts. It affects overall email deliverability since most spam filters like seeing it as an alternative to HTML-only emails that are often red-flagged. By optimizing plain texts, email clients such as Outlook and Gmail do not get suspicious of what is being sent. It is important to add these alongside HTML-only emails since some email providers do not support or display HTML properly. Avoid showing raw codes or blank pages to clients who have opted to receive plain text-only versions by always adding these in. 



Most of the time, auto-generated plain texts appear unorganized, scattered and difficult to read so it is essential to review and edit these before send out. Ensure scannability by using all caps or symbols like double asterisks for clearer headers. Separate sections accordingly and provide subscribers with a clear eyepath through proper spacing. Plain texts can also be optimized by using dashes for bulleted lists to highlight content hierarchy, providing defined CTAs, and keeping used links short and simple.


Tracking URL


Tracking URLs are destination URLs created with unique identifiers or parameters. With these added as hyperlinks or to buttons in an email campaign, a subscriber’s data including the pages he goes to after clicking on anything in the email can be recorded and saved through Google Analytics.



A complete tracking URL is composed of a website domain and two other important parameters, the Campaign Source and Campaign Name. The Campaign Source is used to identify the source or channel the traffic is originating from, that the URL created came from an eNewsletter. The Campaign Name is used to identify the specific email campaign the recorded traffic came from. Setting these identifiers and tracking URLs is important as it makes way for a better understanding of overall eNewsletter performance. 



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Limiting Links/Images


There are a number of reasons why links and images should be limited in an email including how most email providers don’t really allow these to load first. Also, some recipients would view eNewsletters through mobile devices, or behind a company firewall, or other content-filtering system that may block images. Limiting images and links allows readers easy scannability of the email, helping them go through it in less than a minute with a good idea on what it is about. It is also important to understand that link heavy or image heavy emails are oftentimes considered as spammy thus may be filtered to the spam folder right away. 


If an eBlast is image heavy and the images failed to load, broken image links may show and your email might turn out to be unreadable. A workaround to broken image links is to support alternative texts. These alt texts are added on images so that if these do not load, the message these were trying to relay would not get lost in translation. Alt texts help determine what images were supposed to be had these rendered properly in the inbox. 


Avoid emails from being flagged as spam by increasing the text to image ratio, using smaller images that help decrease page load time, removing social media links and unlinking some instances of the website name.




The footer contains vital company information including the company’s contact number and postal service address that can show credibility of the sender. It is found at the bottom of an eNewsletter also showing default links such as Forward to a Friend, Unsubscribe, Update Email Preferences as well as the recipient’s email address, business’ copyright year, and social media icons -- all of which can help pass CAN-SPAM requirements. 


Cross Email Browser and Device Testing


Even if extensive review and testing of eNewsletters and eBlasts take a lot of time and effort, it is recommended to do cross email browser and device testing to ensure the emails appear optimized when viewed on various email clients and devices. All links must be checked, all typographic errors must be corrected, all information must be proofread as the last thing you would want is to send your subscribers to wrong landing pages, to broken pages, to show misspelled content and wrong information. It is best to do testing on major desktop email clients such as Outlook, Apple Mail and Thunderbird as well as on web-based email clients like Gmail, Yahoo! and MSN.


Understanding the importance of these seemingly small but of great value email marketing factors can help build better email marketing. Keeping in mind how to optimize these 7 items can not only drastically improve the quality and effectiveness of your eNewsletters and eBlasts but also ensure email deliverability, increase email open rates and offer better conversions. 

Want to Know More?

SCI Global Services Inc. offers email marketing services to effectively promote your business and products, send and deliver better eNewsletters, manage subscribers, and track overall email results. We also conduct weekly Clever Clients Webinars where we discuss strategic marketing methods and offer quick tips to help our clients meet business requirements.


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