The rules of engagement: Our top tips on keeping your audience interested in your email marketing

The average consumer receives 11 commercial emails a day (CMO Council, 2015) meaning you’re constantly competing within email marketing to standout in the inbox and engage your email recipients.

You know you should be coming up with original ideas, amazing subject lines and engaging content but theory is sometimes easier than practice. And if you’re the person responsible for creating your company’s email marketing, some days can feel like groundhog day.

You lack inspiration, a competitor just stole your thunder or you simply can’t think of anything you haven’t said before. And to make things worse you’re struggling to push the open and click-through rates which your success is judged on.

To help you along we’ve created a few tips to get you inspired. By focusing on these pointers you’ll soon be bursting with ideas for your next email marketing campaign.

Ask questions

People love being asked questions about themselves – it shows you’re interested in them and means you’ll learn more about what makes them tick. And there’s never a shortage of questions to ask… What did they think of their last purchase? What would they like to hear about? You could even create a short incentivised survey to gauge their opinions, attitudes and motivations.

The answers to these questions will tell what to talk about next. Building a better picture of who your recipients are is one of the most valuable things you can do – more insight will help you make better marketing decisions.

Make it relevant

Irrelevant emails do more harm than good – people disengage and unsubscribe from brands that send them communications that aren’t useful or interesting. One irrelevant email sets low expectations for the next which leads to a downwards spiral and ultimately churn within your database.

The key to overcoming this is to talk about the customer – not what you’re selling. Look at what they’ve bought, what they like and provide answers to problems they may have. Yes it takes a little more effort but relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (Jupiter Research, 2014).

By sending emails that are geared more towards the interests and needs of your customers you can reduce the amount of emails you have to create overall. This allows you to spend more time on each campaign you send, knowing that they’ll work harder for you than a whole load of less well targeted campaigns

Be timely

It’s not always knowing what to send – sometimes it’s knowing when. We’ve all clicked on emails that we thought looked interesting but didn’t have the time to read. Sometimes it’s just a case of right time, right place.

Optimise the timing of your emails by using tools such as PureTargeting. Tools like this allow you to automatically generate emails when a customer has browsed your website or recently abandoned a purchase. By triggering emails automatically at these points, you can strike while the iron is hot and at a time when the recipient is most receptive to your marketing.

Build a relationship

Don’t think of your email marketing campaigns as standalone pieces. Your marketing should build a relationship over time and your emails should work together to create a series.

Remember that your email marketing is any message you send – and that includes the automatic emails that often get fired off from your site. These operational emails often get forgotten but are one of your greatest assets as they historically generate a great open rate (Smart Insights, 2016). Whether it’s a welcome email, an order confirmation, product review or email to a lapsed customer – they should all be part of a ‘journey’ which takes the recipient from prospect to loyal customer.

If in doubt, put yourself in the shoes of your customer, look at the email journey they’re likely to be taken on and decide what you’d like to receive if you were them.

Reward engagement and loyalty

Make sure you give the people opening your emails a special thank you. This could be an exclusive discount, a free gift on a set number of purchases or a reward for recommending a friend.

Make sure you promote your email list like an exclusive members club. When you ask people to sign-up to your newsletter remind them that you reward loyalty. Then keep them engaged over time by alerting them when they’re only one purchase away from a free gift or surprising them with a discount on their next purchase.


If you’re struggling for inspiration for your next campaign then look around you and see what’s happening in the outside world. Whether it’s a sporting event, bank holiday, good news story or birthday – there’s always a reason to celebrate.

These events will give you a theme for your email and all you need to do is create a relevant message that fits. Be creative, cheeky or just celebrate with a flash sale or giveaway to spike email revenues. For most of us the days of formal cold communications are over – people like brands to have personality and sense of fun.

By using these tips you’ll soon find inspiration and purpose for your next marketing campaign. Good luck and we look forward to seeing the results!

Download the Advanced Email Series: Personalisation Guide