CRM & Marketing Automation, Customer Journey Optimisation

Best Practices For Increasing Conversions Through Email Marketing

 March 12, 2020

By  Will

Done right, email marketing is an extremely efficient way of increasing your conversion rates. Get it wrong though and you’ll end up wasting your time and money. According to Marketing Sherpa, 72% of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages through email as opposed to being contacted via phone because it’s convenient – you can read an email whenever you have a moment on your commute to work or during lunch break.

And, of course, we can’t forget the numbers – there are 293.6 billion of emails sent every single day.


Saying that though, there is still no excuse for sending annoying emails. In a recent survey by DMA Insights, almost 53% of consumers complained of receiving frequent irrelevant emails from companies.

To see a decent ROI on your email marketing efforts it’s essential you create campaigns that make subscribers want to open them. Bear in mind that this kind of marketing success is not achieved overnight but rather a result of continuous optimisation and A/B testing.

Hopefully, you’ll have the general idea of where to start improving your emails to give your conversion rates a significant boost at the end of this article. Enjoy!

Set expectations 

Let your prospects and customers know upfront what will be required of them. Label each page or email in your sequence as a step. This can be particularly useful for onboarding emails, allowing you to send 5 in 5 days because the prospect knows there is an end and they aren’t going to receive an email a day for life (imagine that happening!).

BrightTALK used the P.S. section of their onboarding email sequence to let their customers know that those emails are only sent this often to make their first steps as seamless as possible.

Screenshot Source: Technology Advice

Lead magnets 

Offer an incentive to get people signed up – it could be a free eBook, guide or a welcoming discount code. Sure, some people will signup just to receive the lead magnet but a) it’s usually just a small percentage of subscribers and b) they might convert in the future.

DigitalMarketer offers here a free set of Facebook Ad Templates:

Screenshot Source: OptinMonster

Transactional emails 

Make the most of your transactional emails – they receive 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email (Experian). Too many companies waste this amazing opportunity to upsell or get some other benefit.

Essentially, you want to give the user the information they are looking for while tempting them with additional content. You can use it to encourage customers to visit your blog or follow you on social media, sign up for your marketing newsletter (which remember, requires a separate opt-in) or sell them some similar products they may be interested in.

SquareSpace asks users to upgrade when sending a reminder that their free trial is about to end:

Screenshot Source: InstaPage

Ensure email readability 

Make your email easy to scan – keep it clean and spaced out so that readers don’t get overwhelmed, particularly on mobile devices as people tend to check their emails on their smartphones than desktops. 

Also, choose a responsive design so the email adjusts to the various screen sizes. If the text is too narrow or too wide, guess what – people won’t read it.

Clear purpose of email 

Have one clear call to action and one clear goal for the email – sending an email with multiple different objectives will only confuse the reader.

If you’re an Ecommerce site you can get away with showing off multiple products, but you shouldn’t take away from that objective of sales by then providing links to your blog or social media pages. 

In this email, Candace Payne (aka Chewbacca Mom!) only asks her subscribers to download a Wookie colouring sheet and nothing else:

Screenshot Source: AWeber

Manage unsubscribes 

Make opting-out easy – offer a clear unsubscribe button at the bottom of your email. Although some marketers suggest to insert it at the top of the email, most people expect to find the opt-out in the footer. Ideally, the button should be a link to a preferences page where people can opt-out of certain communications because even though they may no longer wish to hear about your latest blog post, they might still want to be notified about deals etc. Just don’t ask people to login to change their preferences, you’ll see your spam reports increase if you do.

Plain text email 

Don’t forget a plain text version – after all, you don’t want to go to all the effort of building and delivering an email just for the recipient to not be able to read it because they’re using some random app or browser that doesn’t support HTML or images. 

Milanote is a great example: clean and to the point.

Screenshot Source: Vision6

Test your emails 

Run your email through something like Litmus to make sure it works across all browsers and devices (I’ve found that the one to break the most often is the Outlook desktop app).

Careful with the graphics 

Don’t place your hopes in graphics – a lot of email clients block images by default, so if your email is just large images with text on them, they won’t get seen. I’ve never really understood why some companies just use one massive image as their emails – they don’t even look that good. 

I like this email from Wisita – although the image is quite prominent the main emphasis is still on the written content.

Screenshot Source: Litmus

Bounce rates 

Avoid high bounce rates by segmenting your lists and cleaning them regularly. Hard bounces should be removed immediately and using an email verification tool every now and again is always a good idea too – your conversion rates will increase drastically just by removing the inactive or fake accounts from your list!

One other method to very the subscriber’s email address is to require people click a validation link in an email, but I’m not a huge fan of this as that email must be received in the first place – try having people enter their email twice on signup instead to make sure there’s no typo, or use an in-line verification tool such as Kickbox.

Sender name 

Use a recognisable sender name and address – you’re competing for space in their inbox with dozens of other brands, friends, and colleagues. Make sure your brand name is in there, so they know at a glance who the email is from. 

Sender address 

Don’t use no-reply@ email addresses – there’s no need for this, especially as you’ve probably put some customer service details in there anyway. Let people respond, it’s quicker for them and can easily be funnelled into a support tool. 

Buying email lists 

Don’t buy lists. They haven’t asked to hear from you and don’t want to hear from you. Enough said. 


Don’t send emails too frequently – unless you have something worth saying. A daily list of new and recommended products is likely to get unsubscribed from, but a launch sequence for something new can get away with being more intense.

The perfect amount of email campaigns will depend on the industry in and of course, your audience so test, test and test some more to find the ultimate number.

Technical setup 

Make sure everything is set up properly technically. Ensure your DNS records are correct if you use your own IP addresses and spread the campaigns across your lists while using different IPs for different reasons (transactional, marketing, onboarding etc). 

Segment & personalise 

Personalise the subject line, the content and the destination for maximum results. Segment your data to ensure you’re emailing the right people with the right message – not all of your subscribers are interested in the same thing.

The same goes for sending emails to your customers vs prospects – both personas have different needs and require a different approach. Make use of gender, age, location, anything you’ve got access to in order to segment and personalise emails for maximum effect. 

SurvivalLife found a great way to begin personalisation with new subscribers by simply asking them to choose their preference:

Screenshot Source: OptinMonster


Keep the journey consistent so when people click the links in your email they arrive where they expect to be – whether it’s on the page of a specific product or a landing page that shows the same message as the email. 

The bottom line:

Great email marketing works wonders when it comes to nurturing and retaining customers. Not every website visitor is ready to buy as soon as they land on your site (in fact, most aren’t!) and more often or not, your existing customers are not fully aware of what else your product can do for them.

This is why you can’t afford to sit on an unresponsive email list.

Implementing the techniques mentioned above is a brilliant way to re-engage with your subscribers and boost those conversion rates in no time. Perhaps you could even get the ball rolling right after Christmas?

Have you tried any of these best practices in your email campaigns? Don’t be shy – share the results with me!


Will is a Customer Journey Marketing consultant, specialising in CRO, CRM and Customer Experience. Will has over 7 years experience working across a range of consumer facing businesses and has worked for huge brands such as MyVoucherCodes, Europcar, JackpotJoy, Virgin Games and Virgin Bet.


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Keep up to date with the latest episodes and news