Is it Time to Assess Your Email Marketing Strategy?

By John McTigue

It’s safe to say that most marketers still rely heavily on email marketing to reach and engage our prospects and customers. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing delivers a whopping 3,800 percent ROI and $38 for every $1 spent. The question is, are you seeing that kind of return on your investment in email as a marketing channel? If the answer is “yes,” please move on to the next blog post in your feed. I have nothing to offer you but congratulations. If you’re a little more mortal, like most of us, you might want to take a hard look at your email marketing strategy and make some adjustments.

The Devil’s in the Details

While it’s certainly useful to measure bulk performance KPIs, like average email open, click and conversion rates, you may be missing some important insights that can only be gained by looking at individual emails and clusters of email types.


Take a look at the chart above showing email performance over the past 30 days. Average open and click rates are 15.5 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. Not bad, but not great. More interesting is the performance of different types of email as a function of click-through-rate (Y axis) versus open rate (X axis). Emails color-coded green perform significantly better than those with very low open rates (blue and red) or click rates (yellow). Let’s identify the different email types.

Green Emails

These are mostly transactional emails. You downloaded an eBook—here’s your confirmation email with a link to download. Or maybe you signed up for a webinar—here’s your login information and a link to add it to your calendar. Also included here are drip campaign emails you may or may not have opted into. As you might expect, the drips you were told about when you converted on the first offer in a campaign get the highest response because you’re expecting them and are glad to get them.

Strategy improvement: You can still boost these results, especially those green emails with relatively low open and click rates. Try new subject lines that exactly match recipient expectations. Remind them right away what the email is about and why they should click. Keep it simple and don’t go heavy on the branding or secondary offers. These can serve to distract recipients and cause them to bounce.

Yellow Emails

These emails have below-average click rates and a wide range of open rates. Many of them are your campaign emails with a variety of offers. They are the email equivalent of landing pages, and most of them lead to landing pages upon click-through. The problem is, no one is clicking. Why? Well, either the offer isn’t strong enough or relevant enough to stimulate a response.

Strategy improvement: There could be several problems that should be addressed.