7 Powerful Email Marketing Rules; Followed & Broken

We recently produced a guide that divulged the ’10 power rules for writing much more responsive email campaigns’.

In this blog post, we thought we’d go one step further and throw in some real life examples to accompany the tips too.

Call me by name:

We’re all busy people and no doubt receive a mammoth number of emails daily. If you’re anything like me then those emails that refer to you as ‘subscriber’, ‘reader’ or ‘friend’ are unlikely to make you sit up and pay attention. If you’ve got my name, then call me by it Call me by my nameplease.

In this example, Ryanair – who already know my name – call me ‘Dear Subscriber’.

Studies have shown that using a name within the content of the email itself improves conversion rates and has the added advantage of helping to establish brand loyalty with the recipient, so it’s a wonder why some brands don’t do it, especially when it’s so easy to do!


Here, the online photo retailer ‘photobox’ getting it just right. As you can see from the screen shot here, they emailed Francesca about personalisation whilst harnessing the potential of personalisation in their own creative too. Great work photobox!

Don’t make me read too long:

Dont make me read

Regardless of whether you operate in the B2B or B2C space, your subscribers are likely to be pretty busy people. House work, children, pets, work, socialising, whatever it is that eats into their precious time is likely to be more important to them than your email, so make every effort to ensure that you avoid sending long, unedited sends.

This email we recently received from Netflix asking us to come back and see what we’ve been missing was right on the money; short, sharp and to the point.

Show me you know me:


So, we’ve already talked about calling subscribers by their names, but what about harnessing all of the other data about them that you have? Have you got your email recipients location? Their gender? Their purchase history? If yes then that’s a whole heap of potentially very powerful marketing data because you can personalize the content of the email campaigns that you send even further.

The best email campaigns harness the potential of dynamic content to create extremely targeted and germane messages to recipients, want an example?

Eventbrite do this well, as you can see from the screenshot to the left, they sent Peter an email telling promoting events in close geographical proximity to where he lives.

Events are always more appealing when we know others that are going and Eventbrite know this and played it to their advantage.

Give me something to click on:


Don’t make your recipients work to find your call to action. As mentioned above, they’re likely to be very busy and time poor.

In an effort to drive the most clicks, give your recipients lots off opportunities to do just that; click! Mix it up a little, give them some text links, some fancy buttons and then see what works best when you analyse your results.

Don’t spend the entire top half of the email talking about how great your offer is and then leave the call to action till the end, as many readers won’t make it below the fold, let alone to the very bottom of your creative.

Sainsbury’s do this well as illustrated in the screen shot to the right. The ‘brand match’ email they have sent here allows recipients to click through via an image and via text links, letting recipients click through across a variety of mediums, depending on where they find their cursor naturally drawn to.

Throw me some bait:


When you send an email to a recipient, you’re usually hoping they’ll do something.

Whether that something is registering, clicking, rating, it’s likely that your end goal is going to be a sales orientated one.

Your subscribers are going to get pretty bored  if all you’re doing in constantly bombarding them with sales spiel every day, week or month. In an effort to warm them up a bit, why not give a little?

What do we mean by this? Well, no great relationship is built upon ‘take, take, take’. Instead, think about what value you can offer to your subscribers (asides from your awesome sales and discounts of course).

The best B2B emails offer free white papers, free consultations, free seminar tickets and clever B2C marketers are the ones offering freebies too; free downloads, free recipes, free style guides for example.

Econsultancy are a brand that constantly deliver value to the inbox. Yes, their premium stuff does cost, but they often email their (non-paying) subscribers with snippets of reports, blogs and/or infographics to keep them engaged even when they’re not interested in or ready to purchase (yet).

Make me time sensitive:

One of the most powerful ways to create a compelling call to action is to give the buyer a time-sensitive incentive to do something.

The old saying ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’ rings true here; If people think that they have as much time as they want to think about your offer, they are likely take so long that they forget about your deal entirely.

The most powerful call to actions have a closing date (or even a closing time) on their offers or alternatively limit the amount of times an offer can be claimed because of low stock.

MSAs you can see from the screen grabs, M&S have created a great sense of urgency by telling recipients to ‘Hurry’ because the sale runs ‘this week only’

nextwhereas Next have announced that a sale is by their own admission ‘continuing’,  but nowhere on their email do they say when it ends or how long it has been on for.



Give me some options:

If your offer is enticing or intriguing enough then I might want to find out a little more about it before making a commitment.

If I’m interested and (potentially) ready to bite, then the last thing I want to do is wait for my pre-purchase queries to be answered by email, I want to speak to someone and I want to speak to them now!

Make it easy for interested recipients to get in touch with you; give them a phone number, your twitter handle and an email address like Hotel Chocolat have done here.


Give me a comfortable landing:

So, I’ve done what you wanted and clicked through to your landing page, but what I wanted isn’t glaringly obvious to me now I’ve clicked through. This is a mistake many marketers make, they focus so much care and attention on the email subject line and the call to action itself that they almost entirely ignore what happens when a user clicks through. Far from being the end of the process, this (the landing page) really should be seen as a new beginning.

Recipients should be taken to a dedicated landing page that builds on the look, feel and messages of your original email campaign, giving them all of the information they need without them having to hunt for it.

As you can see from the screen shot below, QVC have got it just right. The shot on the left shows the email as it landed in my inbox and the shot on the right shows what a user is shown when they click through from that email. Looks pretty consistent doesn’t it? That’s why it works, QVC are showing the recipients what they expect to see so that they don’t wind up wondering where on earth they’ve been dumped.



However, Ryanair haven’t employed the same tactics. I clicked on a banner within one of their (English) email sends and it took me through to a page about Poland (in Polish).

The banner within a Ryanair survey

….the landing page!


Asides from the language differences, the look and feel of the website is entirely different to the banner I clicked from, this is likely to cause confusion and irritation to recipients who feel like they’ve not been given what they were promised, and even if they have, (in this instance) it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to understand it. Rule = broken!

So, have you got your own rules? We’d love to hear them…weigh in by commenting below.