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Email marketers have 3 seconds to capture attention. Emails are a lot like Youtube ads, if you don’t get attention within a few seconds the audience will hit skip. 

Email marketing is even harder than video ads. With email you only get a handful of words. Auditory and visual elements are luxuries email marketers don’t have. 

When it comes to difficult goals like increasing reply rates, detail matters. 

Making small changes and testing to see if they compound into big gains is the mantra for a successful email marketing strategy. So let’s dissect 8 useful tactics in email marketing.

Use Your Handle To Inform Content 

Space is limited. That’s no surprise when it comes to headlines. But there is a way to communicate without having to take up the limited real estate of headline text. 

For emails that are for loyalty campaigns, Growthhackers shows us a neat way to use your email handle to define the subject of the email.

Growthhackers uses a distinct email handle that describes to audiences what’s in the contents of the email. 

For example their handle reads, “Growthhackers Top Posts” and signals to readers it is a newsletter compilation of articles that are relevant and popular.



This simple tactic allows email marketers to avoid using headline text to explain the contents of the email. They can use that space to come up with a catchy headline. 

Choose Your Words (Verbs) Carefully

Good marketers are usually good writers, which means they choose words carefully. What separates great emails from mediocre emails -- what separates emails with high open rates -- is special attention to verb choice. 

When thinking about subject, verb and object, there is only so much interest you can raise when it comes to the subject and object. Ebooks, widgets, and news can be dry or repetitive. This is especially true if you are a brand that doesn’t have the sexiest products or content offerings.

Yes, we want to educate, and we do that through content but at the end of the day, marketers have to face the fact that they have to make their emails captivating in the age of Buzzfeed. Here’s where choosing a striking and interesting verb comes into play. An action word is what brings a sense of energy to a sentence. In this case, we want to bring energy to a headline.

Check out some examples below from Wordstream and Customer Success thought-leader, Lincoln Murphy. Notice the strong verb choice in “confess” and “kill.”



Even if you don’t need Wordstream for their product, marketers should sign up for their newsletter for a free masterclass on headline writing. 

Make Efficient Use of Preview Text 

Preview text is an important area for email marketers to understand and master. It’s the first portion of the email that is previewed in the inbox. 

Many email marketing tools will allow you to set the preview text. A basic rule is to avoid having “view this email in your browser” located at the top of the email. Notice the difference between the following two preview text examples. The box in blue shows preview text that elicits curiosity while the preview text in the red box wastes space.



A simple workaround is to place the “View in Browser” link at the bottom of the email (in the footer). Like so:




The preview text should always provide a teaser that gives your readers even more reason to open the email. It’s a companion that comes in a variety of forms.

For example, it can:

  • Create a sense of urgency (blue)

  • Provide an incentive to open (red)

  • Tease your content even more (green)

  • Present a strong call to action (purple)

See the corresponding highlighted preview text for awesome examples:



Get Personal In Your Voice

There are 122 billion emails sent every hour. And that was the hourly rate in 2014! With marketers competing hard for limited attention, extravagant offers and a sense of urgency can only be so…. extravagant and urgent.

This is where a storytelling approach can separate great emails from typical emails.

Checkout these emails from account based marketing platform, Terminus. These emails use a personal voice, and focuses on a personal story or a customer story. It stands out in the inbox because of its friendly and disarming pitch.



In the age of “act now,” “hurry” and big promises, the way to get attention is to be genuine, avoid over promising and using a voice that’s low on ego. 

Use Web Data For Dynamically Generated Email Content

If your web users follow a flow on your site without going completely through a funnel then using email personalization based on their web data creates an email that not only engages audience, but saves time by allowing users to pick up right where they were. Think of it as the a “you still have items in your cart” email, and then a link to the checkout page.

Companies like AirB2B use it to say, “Hey you were looking at X and it costs Y right now. Click the link to learn more.”



The links in the body are generated based on the pages or offers the user was looking at. 

This tactic makes email content relevant and personal, separating it from junk. 

Have A Conversation

For prospecting, i.e. when you’re a new brand or selling in B2B, there are two best practices for effective emails, 1) write shorter emails and 2) Focus on having a conversation.

Get to the point. Your audience is quickly trying to understand what you need. And the needs of stranger usually don’t get prioritized. If your audience doesn’t recognize your brand then aim to be short and to the point in your emails. 

Second, your goal is to have a conversation. If you keep this in mind then the content and voice in your emails will engage your audience. It’s simple, find the problems they are dealing understand their needs first before explaining what you need from them (a demo, phone call, etc.).

Basically, truly care about the person you’re reaching out to. Be the opposite of Ron Swanson.

Ron Swanson


Metrics like open rates can tell you whether your headline gets people’s attention. On the other hand, reply rates tell you whether your message actually spoke to someone and they liked what you had to say enough to follow up.

Demos or trials booked are also a great metric to understand how email campaigns performed. So too is feedback from sales on whether the replies were positive or negative. For a tactic where word choice, phrasing and perspective are so important, a high reply rate could mean people are telling you “You’re awesome, I want to learn more,” or, “Stop emailing me.”

Your reply rates are important and getting information on whether they are positive or negative will help you craft better email sequences.

Understand How Email Fits In the Revenue Cycle

When it comes to isolating the actions that impact of a specific tactic on revenue generated, email deserves a lot of credit. 

It’s the tactic that often converts leads into sales qualified opportunities. Depending on the attribution model you use, the revenue impact of email looks different.

You can either estimate the value of a demo or trial earned via email nurturing and say, “We have 10 demos booked and they are each worth $100 dollars, so the email team generated $1,000 in revenue.”

Alternatively, you can use a multi-touch attribution model that distributes real revenue dollars tied to customers to say, “Our blog generated anonymous web visitors, our marketing video generated a lead, and our email our email marketing generated the sales opportunity which later closed for a $1000 deal. With a multi-touch model I can report and distribute revenue based on closed loop data.”

By using a sophisticated attribution model like W-Shaped, demand generation marketers can isolate the impact that email has on the bottom line. It’s all part of the attention to results that pipeline marketers become obsessed with understanding.

Email is both an art and science. For the science portion, remember that email deserves revenue credit and attribution modeling gives email marketers the credit they deserve. Email marketing is hard work, why not understand how much it pays off?

ron S