5 easy ways to instantly improve your email marketing

Here are five really simple tips which you can use immediately to improve your email marketing.

With opens on mobile devices now exceeding 50%, it’s vital to design with mobile in mind, while not forgetting desktop users.

Recent research shows that if an email doesn’t look good on mobile, many users will delete, or at worst unsubscribe.

All these tips will make your emails more mobile-friendly and help you produce succinct, compelling copy.

1. Use buttons for your calls to action

Buttons will always generate more clicks than text links, especially for mobile users.

Consider which of these is more likely to get clicked.

The 10th annual Comic Arts Festivals is taking place in Brighton next month, and you can register here to get your tickets online.


The 10th annual Comic Arts Festivals is taking place in Brighton next month.

If you’re using a platform such as MailChimp, buttons are straightforward to add.

2. Keep your calls to action short and avoid friction words

This first example is far too long, and everyone will know it’s a link, so you don’t have to instruct them to click.

The second example is much shorter and reiterates the benefit.

Friction words are those that imply your reader has to do something they don’t necessarily want to do.

Common friction words include:

  • Download
  • Buy
  • Order
  • Submit

This example is for a free copywriting guide.

The second example reiterates the benefit. It doesn’t even need to state the need to download it – readers will know this.

3. Always include a pre-header

A pre-header is the summary text that follows the subject line when viewing an email from the inbox.

Many mobile, desktop and web email clients display email pre-headers to provide a preview of what the message contains before you open it.

Pre-headers deliver a seven per cent higher open rate, on average.

Pre-headers also come in handy if the subject line has been truncated as in the first example below.

In this example, which is landscape view on an iPhone, both the subject line and pre-header are visible, thus complementing each other perfectly.

In the examples above, without a pre-header, subscribers would only see “No images? Click here”.

4. Keep it succinct. Use short sentences and paragraphs

Subscribers are more likely to read and act on short and punchy emails.

After you’ve written your copy, re-read it, and remove any superfluous words.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their business over the past year.


Thank you for your business in 2019; we appreciate it.

5. It’s not about you. It’s about them

I regularly receive emails from businesses headed “Here’s what we’ve been up to”.


Often, these include articles such as “Here are some websites we’ve built recently” or “We’d like to welcome John Smith to our accounts team. His hobbies are rambling and trainspotting”.

So what? How does this “news” benefit the reader?

Taking the second example, by all means, announce John, but explain the benefits for the customer. So it could become:

New appointment brings faster turn-round for your PAYE enquiries

We’re delighted to welcome John Smith to our accounts team. John has ten years’ payroll experience, and he will be your dedicated point of contact for PAYE enquiries. As a result our turn-round time for queries will reduce from 48 to 24 hours.

• About the author

Julian Wellings has 12 years’ email marketing experience and works with clients across the UK.



Are you confusing your website visitors?

As a provider of email marketing services, I recommend to my customers that they should have a clear and simple approach to enabling website visitors to opt in.

tick-greenFor tick boxes on a website, a best practice approach is:
  1. No boxes to be pre-ticked.
  2. For the user to opt in to what they want to receive, rather than tick a box to opt out.
  3. To have a uniform approach. Ie. Do not have a mixture of “tick this box to opt in to X” and “tick this box to opt out of Y”.
A bad example is the one below on the Royal Mail website.

The first selection of boxes requires the user to tick the boxes if they do not wish to receive marketing from Royal Mail.

The second selection of boxes asks the user to tick the boxes if they do wish to receive marketing from third parties.

The problem with this is the second set of boxes requires an opposite action to the first set.

A busy or impatient user, having ticked the first set of boxes may well gloss over the instructions for the second set, and repeat the box ticking exercise, thus unwittingly opting in to receive marketing from third parties.



How to use email more effectively in your business


Before starting Expertise on Tap in 2007, I worked in companies where email had ceased to be effective. Employees were suffering from extreme email overload, and it was affecting their productivity. In a bad way.

If email overload can be reduced in business, then it becomes a far more effective communication tool, just like it was originally designed to be.

Here are my tips to help business owners use email more effectively.

1. Suss out your clients’ and suppliers’ preferred communication method

For example, I have one client who uses Twitter constantly. The easiest way for me to communicate with him is via Twitter DMs (direct messages) and I always get a reply within minutes.

I have other clients who are frequently in meetings, and when you phone them it often goes to voice mail. They prefer to receive emails rather than phone calls.

Conversely, I have clients who prefer phone calls, so I use email only if I need to send them a link or a file.

2. Work out when your clients and contacts usually check their emails.

In the SME world, this could be anything from 6am to midnight!  SME owners tend not to work 9-5. If you send your emails when your client is most likely to be online, it will land in their inbox as a fresh email and they’re more likely to deal with it. If you use Outlook, one way to do this is to write your email and then set it to send at a later time.

3.  If you’ve decided email is the best option for a particular client or supplier, here are some further tips.
  • State in the subject line the classification of the email. This helps people prioritise. Eg. “for action”, “for review” or “for information”.
  • Use Reply to All and cc functions sparingly. Do you really need to copy 10 other people? And please don’t copy in someone’s boss just to score points.
  • If the email is for action by more than one person, explain who needs to do what.
  • Don’t expect that because you’ve sent an e-mail you have a right to an instant reply!
  • Use a descriptive subject line to help the recipient prioritise the email. Don’t just say “Meeting”. Instead, put “Our meeting 16th August 2pm – just checking you can come”
  • Or you could try a subject line to grab their attention! Instead of “Gloucestershire Echo article” you could try “John Smith from ABC Widgets in the Echo today – have you seen it?”
  • Be concise and to the point. No-one wants to read an essay.
  • Lay out clearly the decision you want from that e-mail and the ideal date you want it completed by.
  • Use numbered bullet points rather than lengthy paragraphs. That also makes it easier for the recipient to respond to, eg. “Regarding point #3”.
  • Read your e-mail back and check that it makes sense.

How to ensure someone who has found your lost iPhone can contact you

Update 19.09.13: Since the release of i0S7 this no longer works, because when you try to set the screen grab below as wallpaper it comes out very large. If you try and zoom out it won’t work. If anyone has a solution to this please let me know.

This post has got nothing to do with my usual topics of email and video marketing, but it’s such a neat idea, I thought I’d share it with you.

If you have an iPhone and it’s password protected, that means if you lose it the finder can’t get into the phone to work out who you are and how to contact you.

Password protecting your iPhone is good practice, so how can you enable the finder of your lost iPhone to contact you?

Note: This might also work for other phones which have a lock screen.

The solution is simple – display your contact details on the iPhone lock screen.

Here’s how.

iphone1. Add a contact record for yourself in your iPhone.
Only include contact details which you want to be visible to the finder of your lost phone.

2. Take a screen shot of your contact record.
On iPhone 4 and 5 press and hold the power and home buttons at the same time. The image is saved to the camera roll.
You can crop the image if you wish to in the editing tool in Camera Roll.

3. Go into Settings then Brightness and Wallpaper.
Tap Camera Roll and choose the screen grab image.
You can move and scale the image if you like.

4. Tap Set. Then tap Set Lock Screen.  
The image with your contact details is then visible in the iPhone’s lock screen, just like the image on the right >

Hat tips: Guardian Technology Blog, MediaBiz Tech