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How to improve business sales and customer retention using email marketing campaigns

Growth and Operations

How to improve business sales and customer retention using email marketing campaigns

Updated: May 1st, 2023

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In an ever-evolving marketing landscape, one method stands the test of time and technology: email. Simple and effective, email marketing doesn’t just help drive sales—it also keeps you connected with customers at every stage in their buying journey. 

To take full advantage of email marketing benefits, it’s crucial to continue experimenting and refining your practices.

Below, we’re sharing how you can optimize email marketing efforts to grow your customer base and increase sales.

The impact of email

Despite the rise of social media, SEO, and content marketing, email marketing campaigns remain one of the most successful forms of outreach—and for good reason. 

Email Marketing Benefits 

There are three main benefits of email marketing campaigns:

Email marketing is versatile 

You can use email marketing to: 

  • Introduce yourself to new customers
  • Reconnect with past customers
  • Engage with existing customers
  • Strengthen your customer relationships
  • Improve your brand recognition
  • Boost website traffic
  • Build credibility as a company
  • Share business updates
  • Drum up excitement
  • Spike sales
  • Offer personalized content

Email marketing has a high ROI

When you do it right, email marketing campaigns work extremely well.

For every $1 spent on email marketing, you get roughly $36 back on your investment, according to The CMO’s Guide to Email Marketing from Litmus

Email marketing is easy to implement

It takes creativity and strategy to perfect your email marketing content and distribution tactics, but in general, email marketing benefits has a low barrier to entry. You don’t need any special training or technical skills to get started. 

How to increase your email subscribers 

Improving your email marketing campaign can net you more email subscribers over time, but it’s still important to actively work on increasing your subscriber list to reap the benefits of email marketing.

Here are a handful of simple but effective ways to get your target audience to sign up for your next email marketing strategy.

Add an exit pop-up on your website

Before someone clicks out of your site, encourage them to sign up for your promotional emails to receive special news, exclusive product looks, or discounts.

Add a button at the end of blog posts

if you share content on your business’s blog, tell people they can get more bite-sized information by signing up for emails. 

Post about it on social media

Share stand-alone posts about the perks of your email marketing list in your social media marketing, and make sure to share your email sign-up link in your profile bios.  

Turn popular content into gated content

If you’ve created shopping guides, ebooks, infographics, or webinars you’d like to share, consider posting them on a gated web page, so people have to input their email addresses to receive access.

Run an online contest

Consider doing a giveaway or contest with your customers where part of the requirement is to sign up for your email list. 

8 ways to improve your email marketing campaigns for higher sales and customer retention

Ready to step up your email marketing efforts? Consider these eight strategies to maximize the benefits of email marketing:

1. Give customers a reason to read

Every email you send should have a goal, whether it’s to build trust in new customers, bring to your website, or boost your sales on a specific product.

Behind every business goal should be a customer incentive; in other words, why would someone open and read your message? 

Clarifying your internal goals and customer incentives can help you with creating personalized content, striking the right tone, and ensuring you’re appealing to your target audience.

Here are some high-level ways to compel your customers to read:


Teach your customers something new, either by sharing an important fact, doling out advice, or detailing how customers can use your products or services to enhance their lives. 

Share news your target audience cares about

Be the first to clue them in on something relevant to their lives.

Solve a problem

Acknowledge a problem your customers might be facing, then introduce your business as the solution. 

Create a sense of urgency

Use time-sensitive words to get potential customers to jump on an opportunity.

Promote scarcity

Tell customers when your products or services are selling out through promotional emails. 

Share social proof

Share positive business reviews and social media comments.

Tell a story

Give customers a chance to escape for a few minutes with an intriguing or fun read.

Express authority

Send targeted messages that give customers expert advice or reassurance.  

Be clever or silly:

Appeal to your customers’ sense of humor.  

2. Send excellent welcome emails

A welcome email is the first impression a new customer gets of your business, so it’s crucial to make it count. Your welcome email should grab a reader’s attention and inspire them to take action in some way. Here are the key components of a strong welcome message:

Clear and inviting subject lines

Depending on your brand, go for something warm, exciting, or helpful. Think: “We’re happy you’re here!” “Get ready for exclusive discounts every month!” or “Your first step to getting started.”

A peek into your business

 You want to be informative without giving everything away. Share a few details about your business and explain why your customer should care.

Here’s an example of a promotional email for a fake pet food company: “As the largest organic pet food producers in the state, we pride ourselves on delicious, nutritious recipes your animals will love! Our personalized bundles and fast shipping make it easy for you to get the formulas you need to keep your pets fed and happy. Plus, we send discounts and exclusive perks every week.”

A next step suggestion

Give loyal customers a way to keep interacting with your business and boost website traffic, either by sharing your website, linking to your social media marketing platforms, or inviting them to browse products or purchase a service. You can say “Follow us on social media” or “see more of your favorite items here.”

3. Improve your aesthetic and formatting 

Just because email is text-based doesn’t mean it’s not also a visual medium. Aesthetics and formatting play a big role in how readable and captivating your email campaigns are.

The more often customers read through your entire email, the more likely they are to open the next one—and the next one, which builds customer loyalty. 

So, instead of formatting your business’s email marketing campaigns like business emails, try formatting them like the cover of a print magazine. These changes can make a big difference:

  • Pre-set the preview text: The preview text is what shows up next to the subject line of your message in the preview panel of your email—and it’s a great opportunity to further engage your reader. If you don’t create specific preview text, email platforms like Gmail will pull words from the body of your email into the preview line, which can look clunky. 
  • Add alt-text to your call-to-action image: If you incorporate a call-to-action button at the end of your email campaign, make sure you add alternate text to it—like “See new products now.” This helps customers who can’t see images in their email, as well as customers who want to hover over the images and get some additional context. 
  • Incorporate dynamic content: Use striking images, embed videos into your messages, or experiment with playful graphics. 
  • Use an email template that matches your business’s website and other marketing channelsYou can hire a graphic designer to create a custom email template for different types of messages or use free templates on most email marketing software. 
  • Keep paragraphs short: Break up your paragraphs every two to three sentences, and embrace visual reading aids like bullet points. 

Optimize email for mobile devices: More people than ever scroll through their inboxes on their phones, so it’s smart to make sure your emails look just as sharp on a smaller screen. 

4. Test out different subject lines and calls to action

Different subject lines and calls to action (CTAs) get different results in email marketing campaigns. Email marketing platforms offer A/B testing—sending one variation of an email to one group of subscribers and another variation to another group—to experiment with different options and see which ones yield the best results. 

Subject line

A subject line is like a door into your business. If potential customers like what they see, they’ll open it and step inside; if not, they’ll walk away.

Getting people to open your email campaigns starts with creating subject lines that grab their attention or pique their curiosity.

Here are some subject line best practices: 

  • Keep it short—between six and 10 words is generally the sweet spot. 
  • Use numbers. 
  • Use words that create an emotional response (such as “unbelievable,” “exclusive,” and “top-secret”). 
  • Share a specific offer, like “Get 10% today on all cards.”
  • Create a sense of urgency using phrases and words like “for a limited time,” “only now,” and “one-time offer.”
  • Build trust by being helpful and using words like “guarantee,” “money back,” “approved,” or “certified.”

When testing different subject lines, try these simple variations:

  • Name vs no name
  • Long subject line vs short
  • Emoji versus no emoji
  • Vague vs specific copy (e.g. “Score amazing deals” vs “Get 15% off today”)
  • Urgency vs no urgency
  • Sentence case capitalization vs title case (e.g. “You Should Try This” vs “You should try this”)
  • Vague benefit or specific (e.g. “Unlimited support” vs “24/7 customer care line”)

Call to action

Whereas a subject line gets people interested, a call to action (CTA) keeps them interested. Usually located at the top and bottom of an email message, CTAs are an invitation to take a specific action, like visiting your business’s website.

Here are some CTA best practices: 

  • Make your CTA visual, either by using buttons, larger font, bold colors, or images. 
  • Keep the copy short (four to eight words is best) and clear, like “Start your free trial today” or “Book an appointment.”
  • You can put your CTA in multiple locations, but make sure you use the same CTA button per email so you don’t confuse people. 
  • Add supporting text before the CTA. If your CTA directs people to your best-selling products, for example, you could say something like, “Find your next favorite shirt.”

When testing different CTAs, try these variations:

  • One color vs another color
  • One size vs another size
  • Hard sell vs soft sell (e.g. “Buy your first pair today” vs “Browse our options”)
  • Longer copy vs shorter copy
  • Urgency vs no urgency
  • Sentence case capitalization vs title case

It’s important to note that these are general rules of thumb, but every audience is different. Find the marketing strategy that works for your customers and business voice, then try to stay consistent; that’s the best way to ensure you receive all the benefits of email marketing.

5. Tighten your email copy

Good email marketing copy can make people feel excited, seen, inspired, connected—or all of the above. Not only that, but good copy converts, driving people to keep clicking.

Improving your email marketing copy starts with writing in your business’s voice, whether it’s professional and authoritative or friendly and lighthearted.

From there, it’s helpful to employ these five copy best practices: 

  1. Use fewer, better words: Keep your message concise, readable, and easy to absorb.
  2. Write like you speak: People respond to conversational, human writing, so don’t be afraid to embrace slang if it makes sense—and make sure you eliminate confusing jargon. 
  3. Keep your content relevant: Every sentence in your message should convey something customers care about or need to know. 
  4. Know your customers: Think about your audience—and what they respond to best—when deciding whether to crack a joke, use an emoji, or share certain statistics.
  5. Give a directive at the end: Tell people how they can take action if they want to.

6. Revamp your transactional emails

Transactional emails are the ones you send when a customer buys something or schedules an appointment. They may seem formulaic and basic, but they’re actually a great addition to your marketing strategy to impress your customers and generate more business.  

Here are some easy ways to take your transactional emails to the next level:

  • Thank customers for their business by offering a discount on the next purchase. 
  • Share products or services you’d recommend based on your customer’s purchase.
  • Direct your customers to more information, like your website FAQs or blog hub.
  • Ask customers to write a review or give a referral. 
  • Include a feedback form or rating scale, so customers can share their thoughts.
  • Invite customers to enter a giveaway or contest. 

7. Embrace email segmentation

Growing your subscriber base requires tailoring your messages to customers based on their personal interests and relationship with your business.

Enter: email segmentation, which lets you send targeted messages to different customers at different times in your email marketing platform. 

By segmenting your emails in your email marketing software, you can send more valuable, relevant messages to your customers—and potentially get them to click more.

There are endless ways to segment your customers, but here are some common categories to try in your next marketing strategy:

  • Demographics: Targeting customers based on their age or gender can be helpful if you sell items like clothes or jewelry. 
  • Email engagement: You may want to change your subject lines and message content for people who never open your emails versus people who open them some or all of the time. 
  • Location: Depending on your business model, segmenting customers based on their geographic location might be important. You can let them know about in-store offers near them, location-specific news, and the like. 
  • Past purchases: Breaking out your messages according to past purchase behavior—and money spent—can help you secure repeat sales more easily. You can let people know about upcoming product releases, sales on certain types of items, or drops in prices. 
  • Website interaction: Pulling from your website and email analytics, you can connect with different customers based on how frequently they’ve interacted with your website. For example, you may want to send a follow-up message to people who’ve added items to their online carts, or send more information to people who’ve browsed your FAQ page. 

Create personalized content: If you’ve surveyed your customers before, it’s smart to segment emails according to what your customers have shown interest in, whether it’s a particular product or a certain type of email update. 

8. Track your email analytics

Reviewing your email analytics tells you what’s working and what isn’t.

By tracking and observing a handful of key metrics, small business owners can learn how to make changes that get more people reading and acting on your emails. 

Here are the three most critical metrics that measure your email marketing benefits:

  • Click to open rate: The percentage of people who open your emails can give you insight into how compelling your subject lines are—and how interested people are in your messages. You can calculate it using this formula: (Unique clicks / Unique opens) x 100
  • Clickthrough rate: The percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email essentially tells you how many people are engaging with the messages you send. You can calculate it using this formula: (Total clicks / Number of delivered emails) x 100 
  • Conversion rate: This is the percentage of people who clicked on a link and then completed an action, like filling out a survey or scheduling an appointment. Knowing this rate gives you a better idea of how effective your emails are at getting people to take action. Here’s how you calculate it: (Number of people who completed the action in question / Number of total emails delivered) x 100
  • Overall ROI: Your email ROI shows you how much money you’re investing in email relative to how much you’re generating. You can calculate it using this formula: (Amount of money in additional sales – Amount of money spent on the campaign) / Amount of money spent on the campaign x 100

The benefits of email marketing aren’t going anywhere anytime soon—so it’s a good idea to invest in improving your email tactics to secure your current and potential customers.

 If rolling out a lot of changes at once feels overwhelming, just pick one or two areas to focus on first in your digital marketing strategy, then make small tweaks from there!


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