How To Make Your Email Marketing Work For Your Business

How To Make Your Email Marketing Work For Your Business

If you ask most people why they don’t read their emails, you’ll hear answers such as:

“There are way too many emails in my inbox.”

“All I get are spam emails from certain companies.”

“The emails I get aren’t too relevant.”

Whatever they say, the true underlying reason why they don’t read emails is: they don’t care. Plain and simple.

If they cared about what the emails had to say, or at least about the person or company who sent them, they’d make an effort to open their inbox for a second.

Still, there are certain emails that perk everyone up:

“Thank you for your purchase!”

“Your order has been shipped.”

“Welcome, (insert your name here).”

What’s the difference between those types of emails and the emails no one gives a damn about? Hint: it doesn’t have to do with transactions.

People React to Emails That Match Their Current Needs and Problems

When people take certain actions like purchasing a product or subscribing to a newsletter, they’re primed to receive emails that fill a certain need.

Their need to know their transaction was successful.

Their need to know they’ll be receiving their order soon.

Their need to know which benefits they’ll get by subscribing to someone’s list.

Their need to receive updates and information they care about right in their inbox.

So, how can you make email marketing work like that for your business?

Here’s a lesson more important than everything you learned in high school: motivation starts off-screen. Your emails can’t make a person go “hey, maybe I do need to buy this electric cat hair remover, how have I never thought about it before?”.

First, the person must own a cat, and secondly, their cat must be shedding. If this issue is keeping them up at night wondering how long they’ll spend cleaning their home’s surfaces, reading a subject line that says “stop your cat from shedding FOREVER” would be like finding gold.

Motivation starts off-screen. Your emails should fuel that already existing motivation.

It takes effort to know what those needs are and how to best cater to them. Knowing where to start will make it easier, so keep reading.

Know the Difference Between Marketing Campaigns (and When to Send Each)

Wait, what do you mean a nurturing sequence isn’t the same as a drip campaign? Has your entire life been a lie?

The mistakes begin when people dive into email marketing without knowing basic differences from one campaign to another. Next thing you know, their email marketing isn’t working. Dammit.

Wanting to get your hands dirty is exciting, but it takes just a couple of minutes to learn how and where to use each campaign, especially those some of you have been using interchangeably.


Newsletters are meant to nurture existing contacts. They’re a great strategy for an audience of avid readers, information-seekers, and people who want to learn new stuff every now and again. These people are into good content curation, or maybe they just want to keep in touch and stay updated.

Not sure if you’re aware, but trying to keep up with tons of industry-related articles at once is exhausting. That’s where newsletters should step in.

They’re easy to create since you don’t always need to write them from scratch. You can repurpose existing blog content, do a roundup of the best weekly posts, and curate interesting stories from other experts.

If you want to drive traffic to your blog, newsletters won’t let you down.


Drip Emails

This is the perfect strategy if creating ultra-personalized email campaigns isn’t possible at the moment.

The folks at Business 2 Community phrased it perfectly, so here’s a great analogy in case you get confused about what drip emails are:

“Take the instance of how a sprinkler works in a garden. It showers the grass with water irrespective of the care needed to tend it. Every strand of grass receives water whether required or not.”

What that means is, drip email marketing isn’t done based on a single lead’s action. Although they’re sent to specific segments of your email list, drip emails will be well-timed and sent regardless if a subscriber is “ready” to receive that or not. For instance, a drip campaign for a clothing store could go something like:

Drip 1 (first day) – Welcome email

Drip 2 (within 24 hours) – Onboarding email

Drip 3 (fourth day) – Promotional content + discount code

Drip 4 (ninth day) – Promotional content + new campaign alert

Is there a guarantee that subscribers will be ready to buy by the time you’ve sent the third drip email? Nope. But drip marketing automation is a lot better if you’re on a budget. And it converts much better than if you were relying on unplanned email blasts. Over 50%, in case you were wondering.

Lead Nurturing Emails

It’s great to know that people have gone through your lead magnet. Yet, that doesn’t mean they’ll read your emails, stay in touch, or buy any of your products. They may have gotten what you had to offer for free and walked out the door. Ring a bell?

Here’s where nurturing campaigns outperform drip campaigns: they’re highly targeted and individual behavior-based. What’s sent to one lead won’t be sent to another unless they share a similar behavioral pattern.

A chart from MarketingSherpa showed that marketing departments using lead nurturing campaigns saw a 45% higher return on investment (ROI) than those who didn’t.

Lead nurturing emails include:

  • Welcome emails
  • Eye-catching content based on a user’s preference
  • Repurposed blog content snippets
  • Inspiration (works amazingly for retail and decor businesses)
  • Promotional emails based on a user’s browsing history
  • Abandoned cart emails

The purpose of lead nurturing is getting your newly acquired leads ready to buy by sending the right emails at the right time, based on what a particular lead has been doing. Both in and outside your website. It’ll have them asking “how did you know I wanted to see that?”.

Here, check out the following survey by MarketingSherpa.

According to this survey, “welcome” and “thank you” emails will give you the highest open rates. Automating these emails to trigger whenever someone new subscribes or makes a conversion is a clever move.

Here’s a great example of a lead nurturing email from, triggered once a user’s free trial expires:


Promotional Emails

Ecommerce stores should keep promotional emails in their back pocket since their marketing strategy brims with sales and discounts.

Still, the fact that you sell products or services doesn’t give you the freedom to get heavy-handed with promotional emails. Unless, of course, you’d like to sound like an annoying salesman breathing down your subscriber’s neck.

Think about it: if someone bought a product today, they’re unlikely to buy something again too soon. So slow down on the offers. There’s a lot more you can do to engage your leads before they move on to another purchase.

It’s easier to know when prospects are ready to buy with a lead nurturing campaign in place. But if you’re not using lead nurturing, make sure to only send promotional emails after you’ve delivered plenty of informational content first.

Here are some promotional retail examples from Shopilicious and Manach.


Re-engagement Emails (or Win-Back Emails)

Regardless if you’re a brand-new business or a multimillion-dollar enterprise, you will collect more than a few inactive subscribers.

But hey, you can get some of them back. Some, not all. Which is better than nothing.

According to a study by Return Path, 45% of inactive subscribers who received re-engagement emails read future emails. Nice.

Try it yourself. Bring dormant subscribers back by crafting a heartfelt win-back email like this one from Framebridge:


You should also swallow your pride and keep an “unsubscribe” button visible. Accepting that some people aren’t promising leads is easier than nurturing hope. That’s your sign to gather fresh leads instead of holding on to stale ones.

Segment Your Email List

Email list segmentation is one of the most instrumental approaches to email marketing these days. It’s your chance to only send relevant content to each subscriber based on their buying preferences and demographics.

The one and only Hubspot improved their click-through rate (CTR) by 583% after implementing a segmented email campaign.

You could be next.

To segment your email list, you’ll need to collect data to create focused segments and deliver personalized content to each. For this topic, we’ll assume you already have a firm grasp of who your customer personas are. If not, you might want to define them before you start segmenting your list.

You also might want to group your subscribers by age, gender, location, job title, personal preferences and goals. Stay in the know about their behavioral patterns in other sites by gathering their personal data using website cookies, which will help you deliver a personalized marketing experience. If they accept the cookies, that is.

Understanding their personal preferences and what they expect from your emails is easy. Before a potential lead opts into your email list, ask them what kind of content they’d like to receive in their inbox, like this:


By creating content that meets your subscribers’ needs, you’re more likely to get higher rates.

Focus on Branded Email Layouts

Feel like ruining your entire branding? Play around with fun email templates like there’s no tomorrow.

Drag-and-drop email templates have been the greatest invention since the microwave. Still, they also gave people the freedom to try different things out and, sometimes, ignore their branding.

The slightest change in copy, color, and images can create a disconnect in the minds of potential customers. You’ve worked hard to develop a brand people will recognize, so it pays to stay consistent with your branding throughout all marketing channels.

This also applies to display ads, by the way.

For reference, look at Grammarly’s website homepage…

And now, look at their promotional emails:


Clean Your Email List Often

No response to your win-back campaigns? No need to pout.

If you’ve been noticing a few subscribers haven’t engaged with your emails in, say, three months, they just might not care. And that’s fine.

What’s not fine is the fact that a cluttered list can make both your open and click-through rates hit rock bottom. Oh, and your bounce rates could reach an all-time high. You don’t want that, or having your emails being marked as spam.

At the end of the day, email marketing is about connecting your brand to leads who are more likely to become customers. You’ll only want to keep the real ones in your email list, so a clean-up will do you (and your brand) good.

How often is often, though?

If you want to pull a Neil Patel, you could give your list a scrub every week. But you know you don’t have to, so doing it every three months works. As long as you stick with it, of course. At mailfloss, we do it for you in real-time automagically. It’s set and forget and takes 60 seconds to setup. /endplug

Don’t Do Email Marketing in a Vacuum

Speaking of dead subscribers, someone staying subscribed to your list isn’t the same as them opening your emails. They could still be scrolling past them, however.

Most of the time, hearing the truth from the source is the best move you can make. Don’t be shy to ask for feedback. Even though knowing where and how you can improve might not bring those subscribers back, you’ll be improving the experience of upcoming subscribers. All you have to do is ask, and every input counts.

A simple subject line such as “can you help me with this?” goes a long way. If you think you’re unlikely to receive answers, try giving a discount code or a freebie to anyone who helps you out. After all, their opinion is valuable to you.

And of Course, You Can’t Do Any of This Without the Right Software

If it all sounds too overwhelming, this is your reminder that you’ll only do a fraction of the work. In short, you’ll do the thinking, and technology will keep tabs on automation, AKA the job no one wants to do.

Tools like Mailchimp, GetResponse, ConvertKit, and many others are available to create a seamless experience for your company, your small team, or just yourself. You can give them a test drive before committing to them and deciding if they’re the right bet.

The thing with email marketing tools is: some people are too worried that they won’t get enough value for the price they’re paying.

Well, if you currently have up to 1,000 subscribers, you’re in luck. That number is the golden ticket to a lot of free versions. If you have more, congrats for bearing that long without a marketing tool. Now, run straight to G2 and view unbiased opinions from people who’ve had enough time to review the products.

Closing Thoughts

There might be one or more reasons why your email marketing isn’t working for you. Perhaps you haven’t been matching your emails to your subscribers’ expectations, you haven’t been segmenting your email lists, or maybe your emails just look confusing and weird.

If any of the above has stopped you from reaching your desirable rates, there you have it. The solutions to (almost) all of your problems.

Just a final reminder: as soon as your email notification becomes important to someone, they’ll instantly stop what they’re doing.