Email marketing strategy: How to make yours work harder.

Email marketing has evolved. The days of pushing out mass emails are gone. Today it’s all about data-driven insights and targeting consumers with personalised content based on their individual wants or needs. Content that boosts open rates and inspires conversions.

What is email marketing? 

Email marketing is a way for your business to build strong and valuable relationships with your customers. You can use it to…

  • Provide information to your customers
  • Promote your brand
  • Shout about news and offers
  • Guide customers towards an action

What are the metrics of email success?

The success of an email campaign depends on how it performs on a range of key metrics, such as:

  • Open rate: Number of people who open the email
  • Click-throughs: Number of clicks from the email to the landing page
  • Purchases/orders: Number of purchases/orders from the email
  • Conversions: Leads, sign-ups and other success events

Stuck in an email rut?
Adobe can help. Request a demo or arrange a call-back today 

Benefits of email marketing.

Email marketing can benefit your business in many ways. With the right strategy, you can be…

  • Laser-focused: With the right data, you can reach individual people. Surprise and delight with the right message, at the right time, at the right point in their journey.
  • Tailored to their device: People pick up email on different devices while doing different things. Understand how, where and when they will check their inbox.
  • Always on time: “People like more contextual emails. Emails that are relevant in that moment in time,” Saul Lopes, Customer Lifecycle Lead at Virgin Holidays, explains.
  • Helpful to their challenges: The better you understand your customers, the more helpful the content you create. Identify their problems and offer them solutions.
  • Delivering ROI: 73%* of companies say email ROI is good or excellent compared to 35% for display advertising . Drive sales and conversions.

Stuck in an email rut?
Adobe can help. Request a demo or arrange a call-back today

Why is email marketing important?

Email marketing can help you to reach customers with personalised content that’s right at their desk or in the palm of their hand. When do people check personal emails?


Email can always grab your customer’s attention – whether they’re on the train or taking time out. Reach people directly, with information relevant to them, at the right time.

“More consumers prefer to interact with brands through email than any other channel”
Adobe blog 

Email marketing strategy and why you need it.

Every minute of every day, 149,513 emails are sent*. Email marketing strategy defines the steps you take to ensure yours is among the emails people open. The most important factor to consider with your email marketing plan is your audience.

Personalisation is key to this. Around a quarter of larger businesses say data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual is their most exciting opportunity. For one in five**, optimising the customer experience is the priority. The two go hand-in-hand.


“As a marketer, you want to make sure that the email you’re sending is right on target,” says Kristin Naragon, director of product marketing for Adobe Campaign. “It’s personalised, it’s sent at the right moment, and it renders perfectly, no matter where they open the email.”

Six steps to successful email marketing strategy.

Set your strategy: Understand what you are aiming to offer your customers and deliver for your business through your email programme. This is about ‘knowing your value proposition’.

Agree objectives: Work across your teams and understand people’s expectations. What metrics will you be judged upon? Early collaboration helps you deliver greater value to the business.

Learn from data: Use data and analytics to understand what your customers want and need. 69% of people say they prefer marketing emails that give information rather than sell products.***

Create content: The next step is to translate that into compelling content that looks great on any screen or device. Use software that previews how your email will look when it lands before it’s sent out.

Deliver with intelligence: Understand how the email you are about to send fits in with the messaging on your other digital channels. Use software that can work across multiple channels.

Analyse performance: Not every email will perform. Use A/B testing to understand why. Prioritise the metrics that matter to your business and measure against those specifically with custom settings.

“Personalised and relevant emails can increase conversion rates as much as four times”
Michael Sciano, Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign
“Those engaging in contextualised email marketing drove a higher monthly revenue than those utilising basic tactics”
Adobe blog 

Types of email marketing

Essentially there are three main types of email marketing:


Traditional email marketing. Think functional customer emails such as weekly newsletters and welcome campaigns, as well as those known as ‘batch and blast emails’, and some basic personalised emails.

42% of classic email marketers say their email marketing is highly effective



Transactional emails, such as abandoned basket, that change depending on the person. With them you can “provide content that changes based on what you know about your customer,” says Kristin at Adobe Campaign.

53% of dynamic email marketers say their email marketing is highly effective



Personalised emails focused on the customer journey. These consider when email is opened and on what device. “The gold standard. You’re able to drive home personalised, relevant content,” says Kristin.

58% of contextual email marketers say their email marketing is highly effective

Email marketing tips for better conversion and open rates.

You’re creating emails to convert, right? 93% of marketing professionals use email to distribute their content*. But only one in four emails from brands are interesting enough to open. 

Create emails that inspire people to open and convert with our email marketing tips.

Ready to put these tips into action?
Adobe can help. Request a demo or arrange a call-back today

Personalisation is key to creating emails that convert. People like it too (personalised emails are important for 46% of millennials ). “The conversion rate of a customer served personalised content is one and a half times higher than a customer we have served generic content,” says Beatrice Benavidez, Senior Consultant in Customer Analytics at Virgin Holidays. 

* Adobe 2019 Email Usage Study :

Only data and analytics can help you understand what your customer wants – what your customer needs. Deliver best-in-class personalisation with…

  • Psychographics – data-sets that take you right to the heart of your target audience and what matters to them
  • Complete profiles – get the full view on your customers with profiles that track their interactions across different touchpoints
  • Segmentation – create smaller groups of audiences based on specific details, such as interests, hometown, age, purchase history and more

People really don’t like bad personalisation. Bad personalisation could be…

  • Spelling someone’s name wrong
  • Sending offers that don’t match their interest
  • Promoting products they’ve already bought
  • Sending offers that have since expired

“The more personalisation you apply to your emails, the better revenue you can generate out of those efforts,” says Kiril Rachev, principal consultant for Adobe Campaign.

Writer Karol K told the Adobe Blogthe most important thing about email newsletter design is “its ability to generate good conversions”. Readers are looking for validation, Karol explains. “Make your design look professional,” he says. “Avoid shouty colours and uppercase text.”

Poorly written emails really put people off. The same goes for overly wordy ones, and those littered with misspelling and grammar issues. The words you choose matter.

Some tips to follow…

  • Write in short sentences using plain English
  • Capture your message in short, succinct headlines
  • Imagine you’re speaking to your reader in person
  • Translate your product features into lifestyle benefits
  • Conclude with a clear call to action (CTA)

Emails succeed or fail on the strength of their subject lines. Only 25% of people find emails compelling enough to open. Subject lines must work harder. For better subject lines…

  • Talk directly to your reader
  • Compel them to take action
  • With a clear benefit or need
  • That relates specifically to them
  • Summed up in plain language
  • That’s easy to understand

Need more help?
Choose email marketing software that can help you create better subject lines, powered by AI.

People get their emails on all kinds of devices: laptops, tablets, phones, smartwatches. Almost 25% of people are annoyed by emails that are too wordy or poorly written. Fail to use responsive design – squeezing a desktop email into a mobile frame – and your emails will look too wordy and your email marketing strategy will falter. “You absolutely need responsive design,” says Karol K. “(so) No matter where you view the newsletter, it’s always going to look the same.”

Crafting an email takes time and effort, which you could be wasting if your email is too large to send. Gmail, Outlook and other leading email providers have strict limits for email size. The largest emails you can send are…

  • Gmail – 25MB
  • Microsoft Outlook – 20MB
  • Yahoo Mail – 25MB
  • BT – 25MB

Email is just one of the many ways you talk to your customer. Ensure your email marketing strategy ties into your social activity, apps and website to deliver the right information at the right time. Seek opportunities to use email to attract subscribers to another channel. Learn how Taylor Guitars works across channels.

Ready to put these tips into action? Adobe can help. Arrange a demo or request a call-back today.

Want more tips? Read our guide to optimising your emails.

Email marketing list – how to do it right.

Your mail list is key to the success of your strategy. It should be nurtured, and never taken for granted. Send people irrelevant emails, and they’ll unsubscribe. Fail to reward them for opting to open and read your emails, and they’ll stop doing just that.

Don’t buy email lists, whatever you do.

Buying an email list may seem like a fast ticket to success. But it’s actually a fast ticket to failure. Your email list should be grown organically – and be made up of people who want to hear from you. Crucially, buying an email list will violate the rules of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). It set strict rules around opt-in and opt-out. Buying an email list breaks those rules . Learn more about GDPR.

Segment your email list.

When was the last time you received an email that bore little relevance to your life? How did it make you feel? Ensure you’re sending emails that matter by breaking down your email lists into hyper-relevant segments and sub-segments – each one speaking specifically to small groups of real people. Segmentation is central to successful email marketing strategy. Read more on optimising your email list.

Reward people with lead magnets.

Lead magnet might sound complicated, but it’s simple. It means giving people something in return for their support. It must be useful to them, and perhaps understand and respond to a challenge they may be facing. Examples of lead magnets include…

  • eBooks detailing a strategic approach
  • Exclusive expert interviews or tips
  • State-of-the-industry report
  • Consultations with relevant experts

Run a well-managed email list.

Like a well-manicured garden, successful email lists require constant attention to ensure they stay healthy. There are many hygiene tasks. Bridgette Darling at Adobe Campaign says…

  • When an email address bounces, remove it right-away instead of later
  • Identify and remove invalid email addresses – ones that do not exist or deliver
  • Send fewer emails to inactive subscribers, gradually reducing the frequency 

GDPR and email marketing – opting in and opting out.

Rules around opting in and opting out of emails are central to your email marketing strategy. Put simply, it refers to the customer and their right to choose whether they receive marketing emails from your company or not. Without an opt-in, you cannot send emails to a person’s email address. This is called consent.

The European Union introduced the General Data Protection Regulation, also known as GDPR, in 2018 to tighten the rules on consent and how it's given.

The GDPR defines consent as:

“Any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her”.

Person gives you consent to send them marketing emails. Once selected, you can target their profile with email deliveries.

Person refuses consent to send them marketing emails. Once selected, you cannot target their profile with email deliveries.

Choose email marketing software that enables you to manage opt-in/opt-out preferences.

Tips for GDPR and email marketing.

  • Ensure all emails include clear unsubscribe links 
  • Set up dedicated opt-in/opt-out landing pages with profile acquisition pages
  • Set up double opt-in process, which adds an extra step for verifying addresses 
  • Audit every place you use email capture to ensure it is compliant with GDPR
  • Review all written copy to ensure it shows (in plain English) how you’ll use the data

Automated emails explained.

Automated emails help you to deliver the right response at the right time. Also known as autoresponders, they are sent automatically when a customer takes a specific action. Well-known examples include…

  • Abandoned basket: When customers leave the site with items still in their basket, intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Welcome emails: Sent to new customers when they sign up to your newsletter or make their first purchase.
  • Inactive subscribers: Email sent to re-engage people no longer interacting with your correspondence.
  • Reminder emails: Sent to customers when their subscription is about to end, reminding them to renew.
  • Celebrations and anniversaries: Personalised emails offering the customer a gift on their birthday, for example.

Abandoned basket emails

You’re browsing your favourite online store, adding items to your basket. Then, you get distracted – a phone call, an interesting piece on the radio – and you forget your shopping. With the right email marketing software, you can retarget these people who have abandoned their basket with timely, relevant content. The best retargeting aims to understand what your customer wants:

  • What made them choose that item? 
  • What problem are they trying to solve? 

Automated emails and analytics

Email marketing software with analytics learns how customers behave across channels to give you a complete picture, so you can tailor triggers to specific people. Send an automated email when your potential customer…

  • Closes a video before watching the end
  • Calls your customer service line for advice
  • Visits your store without buying 

Email marketing examples – Adobe case studies.

Travel brand Hostelworld used to struggle to send 300 emails. They now send over one billion emails every year. With Adobe Experience Cloud email marketing software, each email is tailored to a customer’s needs.

“Even though we’re sending out so many more emails, we’re seeing lower unsubscribe rates and higher click-through rates. The difference is we’re using segmentation to target customers with only the deals and information that they’ll find interesting,”
says Ottokar Rosenberger, Hostelworld CEO.

Learn more 

The results for Hostelworld with Adobe

1 Billion

emails per year with high click-through rates


of bookings coming from repeat Hostelworld customers

And there’s more. Other powerful email marketing examples include:


Achieved 17% higher open rates for targeted email and SMS campaigns.

Learn more


Heathrow Airport

Delivered 25% email click-through rates while improving email open rates.

Learn more



Benefited from 80% open rates with targeted email campaigns.

Learn more


How many marketing emails should I send?

There’s no magic number but don’t send too many – 45% of people say hearing too often from a company was likely to push them to unsubscribe.  The better you understand your customer and their intent, the clearer it becomes how many emails you should send.

When’s the best time to send email marketing?

When it comes to sending your email, there isn’t really a ‘golden hour’ that will guarantee more conversions. But when you send your email is still important. Research shows that people check personal email mostly before they get to work (85%)*, so early morning is a good time to send your emails.

What are the average open rates for email marketing?

Any impact will depend on your target audience and your industry. Typically, a good campaign will have an average open rate of around 20%. Grabbing a customer’s interest is key. You can always experiment with your email marketing, trialling new subject lines and email headers and seeing if it improves your results.

How to write email marketing

Finding the right words is crucial for successful email marketing. Your email is competing with dozens in your reader’s inbox. Why should they notice yours over the rest? Subject line: Front-load with the most important words first. Relate specifically to this person. Body copy: The email is open. Get the most important information in the first sentence. Ensure the copy is scannable. CTA: Every email must have a clear aim. What are you trying to help your customer with?

How to get started with Adobe: Three steps to your next campaign.

1. Tell us what you need
2. We’ll give you a quote
3. You’ll start seeing results

Ready to launch your next email campaign? We can help you deliver personalised content to your customers – wherever they are, on whatever device. 

Related Content

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How to Create Emails Your Customers Actually Want to Open.

Let’s talk about what Adobe Campaign can do for your business.

Let’s talk about what Adobe Campaign can do for your business.