The Entrepreneur's Guide to Whipping Up an Irresistible Email Marketing Campaign

It’s truly amazing how food has the power to bring people together. It’s a form of self expression. But when shared with others, it can build and nurture relationships, help mend problems, and serve as a source of inspiration and education. 

If you were to spend some time comparing the preparation of a meal to how you create email marketing campaigns, you may realize that the two are actually very much alike. 

Think about it: An email campaign is essentially a meal you share with your audience. It includes nourishing pieces of content that your subscribers consume—all of which help to spread brand awareness, educate your community, and build relationships with your customers. 

The best part? You have total control over the entire cooking, or rather email creation process. Email is owned marketing at its finest, which is all about using the channels that are within your direct control to create long-lasting connections with your customers. 

The more you nourish your audience with high-quality emails, the healthier your brand will be. So how do you create an email marketing campaign that’s irresistibly consumable? You can start by following a recipe. 

Think of this guide as your step-by-step cookbook on how to concoct an email campaign that will delight your subscribers and put you in the driver’s seat of owning your brand’s growth.

Keep reading to learn: 

  • How to prep for your email marketing campaign 
  • How to create an email list  
  • How to create four kinds of emails that build customer relationships 
  • How to craft a high-performing call-to-action (CTA) 
  • How to write email subject lines 
  • How to A/B test components of your email marketing campaign

Mise en place: How to prep for your email campaign

Mise en place is a French culinary phrase which means “everything in its place.” It’s used to describe the process of prepping ingredients and gathering together the kitchen tools you’ll need before cooking a meal. It allows chefs to execute a meal with focus and precision so they’re able to remain hyper organized throughout the cooking process.

Much like running a fast-paced kitchen, launching a strategic and effective email marketing campaign requires a degree of mise en place. 

If you can identify the goal behind your email, outline your campaign, implement your plan, and analyze your results, then like a culinary pro, you’ll be able to concentrate on your creativity and juggle the other demands of your business—all while avoiding needless distractions.

Your mise en place for an email marketing campaign has four recurring phases: audit, strategy, implementation, and analysis. Everything works hand-in-hand. The audit informs the strategy, which informs the copy and design, and every other step in between.

Source of graphic’s content: Fuelmade

 

Prep phase 1: Audit your brand

Every email marketing campaign starts with a thoughtful discovery phase or an audit: 

  • Who are your customers? 
  • What do they care about? 
  • What problem does your product solve for them? 

To answer these questions, you need to learn everything you can about your target audience, industry, and goals.

If you run your own business, it’s easy to focus on the day-to-day details of your business, but it’s also important to zoom out and see the larger picture. By reflecting on your customers’ needs and how your product meets them before you dive into executing certain tasks, you can uncover how to use an email campaign to deliver messages that will resonate with your audience.

This phase is crucial to creating a successful campaign strategy. Start by asking yourself some key questions:

 

  • What’s the main goal of your email marketing campaign?
    • More leads?
    • Sharing your value proposition?  
    • Increasing your customer lifetime value?
    • More client feedback?
    • Better social interactions?
    • More subscriptions? 
    • A higher average order value?
    • Something else?

 

  • Who is your customer? What questions do they ask? What problem do they want to solve? Imagine you sell beauty products and you want your messages to resonate with young women who shop at Sephora, who are active on Instagram, and who are looking for high-quality, natural products. Those customer characteristics will dictate how you position your products.

 

  • What marketing assets and resources do you already have available? Do you have high-quality product videos you could use in your emails to educate your customers? If not, you could use blog posts, digital catalogues, product guides, photos, or anything that will stand the test of time. Consider what you have available and create your emails using the amazing content you’ve already spent hours creating.  

 

  • What does your current email experience look like for your customers? Are you sending emails from every direction—requests for reviews, ratings or would you recommend questions, back-in-stock alerts, and shipping notifications? Try creating a comprehensive picture of all your communications. It would be a shame to create a beautiful email only to find your subscribers never opened or clicked on it because another email stole its thunder. The entire experience needs to work as one machine.

 

  • Do you have special programs you can promote? Referral programs, loyalty programs, VIP programs, subscription programs, and charity programs are ways you can entice your audience to engage with your emails. 

 

Once you’ve completed your audit, it’s time to lay out a plan for your email campaign.

 

Prep phase 2: Map your findings to a concrete strategy

Many brands launch email campaigns simply by “doing” before “planning” and they often miss out on opportunities to segment their audience and personalize their outreach. But that’s precisely why you audit before strategizing. 

Having uncovered where your opportunities lie with your audit, it’s time to decide how you’ll address your findings and develop the strategy for your campaign.

First, think about how you can segment your audience. Then group your customers, subscribers, and site visitors based on the actions they’ve taken so you can send tailored messages that are relevant to their behavior.

Quick tip:
You could segment your audience into buckets of shoppers who have made a purchase in the last 30 days, who have never clicked on one of your emails, or who have signed up to your email list but never made a purchase. Each of these different segments could receive different relevant emails that encourage them to take a specific action.

Your audit findings will help you determine where you can add the most value for your audience. Then, you can prioritize the stage of the customer journey you want to focus on first.

Here are a few examples: 

  • Company update emails to create awareness with new subscribers 
  • An email newsletter to keep new and existing subscribers in the loop
  • Winback emails to entice those who haven’t purchased in a while to come back

Once you’ve organized how you want to segment your audience, you can plan how you’re going to personalize your messaging. The beauty of segmentation is that it makes personalization pretty straightforward—you know what messages will be more effective than others because they’re based on the behaviors of your audience. 

Quick tip:
For example, if you know a customer placed an order ten days ago, you probably wouldn’t send them a winback email. Instead, a more relevant communication would be an email announcing a new product line that’s similar to the item they purchased.

Think back on what you discovered during your audit. Then create a customized and strategic plan that matches your brand’s goals and your customer’s needs—you’ll need it as you begin to create your email campaigns.

 

Prep phase 3: Decide how you’ll implement your email campaign’s strategy

During the implementation phase, you can finally figure out how you’re going to let your creativity loose.

Copy and design for an email campaign are important. Instead of diving in headfirst and creating a plethora of emails all at once, try focusing on a handful at a time. 

First, pick out a few emails you want to include in your campaign without worrying about the rest. If you’re planning your first email newsletter and it’s going to run monthly, lay out the template for your content and decide which segment or segments of your audience will receive your newsletter. It’s difficult to build thirty emails at once, so start gradually. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

Second, try not to stuff all your messages into one email—each email has a singular goal. Remember, the strategy phase (prep phase 2) is where you planned out what you’re going to say and who you’re going to say it to.

Quick tip:
If your first winback email is focused on highlighting your brand’s social proof, think about saving your content about subscriptions, loyalty programs, or potential product launches for the next round of emails.

The implementation phase requires that you marry the findings from your audit with your strategy in order to thoughtfully design and build the components of your email marketing campaign. Learn as you go, and apply your new knowledge as you see results.

 

Prep phase 4: Determine which metrics you want to measure

Success looks different for every brand, and for every email marketing campaign, depending on your goals. 

You can review metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, or revenue-per-recipient (RPR) to better understand the performance of your email campaigns and to inform your future decisions. 

Additionally, once you know which metrics will serve as your email marketing campaign’s key performance indicators (KPIs), post-campaign launch, you can use a tool like Klaviyo to benchmark those metrics against similar businesses in your industry and see how you stack up to your peers. 

This can be a huge-time saver as you try to prioritize which of your email campaigns need the most attention and the most resources. 

For example, instead of deciding that you need to refresh your welcome series based on a best-guess assumption, you can use benchmarking data to specifically decide which emails need the most attention.

See how Klaviyo Benchmarks can help you measure the performance of your email marketing campaigns.

Even if you’re starting from scratch, try to lay out your email campaigns in an organized fashion from the get-go. Because often, it’s easier and more efficient to start with a clear plan rather than having to go back and clean up a mess of emails that weren’t built with a deliberate strategy.  

Mise en place is the religion of all good line cooks,” wrote Anthony Bourdain in his memoir, Kitchen Confidential. When creating an email campaign, mise en place is a necessity for marketers.    

Once “everything is in its place,” in order to see results with your email marketing campaign, you need an audience of people to send your emails to. Next, learn how to create your email list. 

Build your base: How to create an email list for your campaign

With your ingredients and utensils ready, you can begin to build your base. 

For a chef, building your base is an essential step upon which the rest of your dish depends. Without a foundational base of aromatics, seasonings, or spices, meals don’t have a clear direction and can often fall flat from a lack of flavorful support.  

Similarly, a robust email list makes up the foundation of your email marketing campaign. Your subscribers are the reason you’re sending a campaign in the first place, and their response determines the success or failure of it. 

Building an email list ensures that you have a base of subscribers who will engage with your content and take an action that helps you achieve your campaign’s goals. 

 

What’s an email list?

An email list is a collection of email addresses from people who have opted in to receive marketing messages from your brand. 

Brands that have healthy and compliant email lists acquire these email addresses voluntarily, meaning subscribers give a brand their information because they’re interested in staying up-to-date with the business and receiving promotional messages. 

Creating an email list opens the door to endless communication possibilities. You can introduce new subscribers to your brand with emails that share your brand’s mission, nurture potential customers with newsletter content, or encourage shoppers to make a purchase with a seasonal or holiday sale.  

And with the help of behavioral targeting, you can segment your email list, and the subscribers on it, into different buckets (i.e., product interest, level of engagement, actions taken on your website, etc.). 

Once you’ve segmented your list, it’s much easier to personalize your content so that it’s relevant to the behaviors of each audience group.

For example, you can share relevant product launch news with customers who’ve interacted with similar products in the past or re-engage past customers with a winback email campaign.

If you want to unlock all the possibilities a creative email campaign holds for your brand, the key is building an email list. 

 

How to collect email addresses

If an email list is a collection of addresses, how do you develop such a collection? Here are three resources to help you answer that question. Spoiler alert: It may be easier than you think.

1 | Signup forms are your best friend

A signup form allows you to collect information from your website visitors, like their name, email address, and phone number. There are three primary types of forms you can use to collect this information on your site: popups, flyouts, or embedded forms. You can use one type of form or a combination of them.

Popups 

A popup is a form that appears on a webpage after a certain amount of time, or when a website visitor scrolls to a certain area of the page.  

It’s the most obvious type of signup form because it requires visitors to take some action before exiting—either subscribing to your email list, exiting the screen, or something else.

signup form example from color camp

Color Camp’s popup targets new site users, and it’s effective. They aim to establish a relationship with their shoppers from the get-go with their quirky “Let’s be BBFs” headline.

Additionally, their use of emojis and soft pastel colors in the popup aligns perfectly with their brand, making it feel like a natural extension of their site.  

Flyouts

Similar to a popup, a flyout will appear on a webpage after a specified amount of time, or when a site visitor scrolls to a specific point on a page. The key difference is that a flyout appears from the bottom, top, margin, or corner of the page.

example of flyout from chan luu

Chan Luu’s flyout resembles what you might see on a popup, but on the site it’s smaller and comes out from the side of the webpage. 

The focal point on the flyout is the 15 percent discount they offer to subscribers. The large font size is intentionally attention-grabbing. 

Embedded forms 

An embedded signup form usually sits in the header or footer of your site and often only has one field where potential subscribers can enter their email addresses. 

Since popups and flyouts are larger, you have more room to collect additional information from your site visitors, like their first name, last name, or phone number.

example of an embedded form from supply

Cult favorite razor brand, Supply placed their embedded form in the footer of their site.

Their “Let’s get closer” copy is a pun on getting a close shave. For a brand that’s focused on delivering a no-fuss, practical product, they know how to craft signup copy to match. It’s fun and straight to the point: Sign up and you’ll get only emails that matter in your inbox.

2 | Use a branded signup form on your website

If you’re just getting started with signup forms, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Design  

The user experience of your website is important for your site visitors. And your site’s signup form or forms play a large role in that experience. 

Your website is a reflection of your brand and helps tell your story. From the colors and images you choose, to the font size and style, each component represents your brand’s products, aesthetic, and tone.   

So when someone comes to your site, there should be a cohesive look and feel to it. 

Example:
Imagine you navigate to a website that advertises seasonal baby clothes available in every color of the rainbow. The site design is simple and packed with bright, primary colors that evoke a child-like feeling. But when you arrive on the home page, a pop up appears that doesn’t match with the overarching design of the site. Maybe the copy on the form is too formal, or the colors are dark and muted.

Whatever the reason, when the design of a signup form doesn’t align with the rest of the site, it can make for an off-putting or clunky user experience.

Copy

Copy is equally important to the design of the form. To create an email list, you have to entice your website site visitors to sign up for it. That’s where your signup form copy comes into play. 

Create a signup form that offers something to your customer in exchange for their information. With an incentive, your site visitors get something that interests them, and you gain subscribers who will form the base of your email list.

Example:
If you’re creating an email list for your weekly newsletter, try teasing some of the content that a subscriber would have access to.“We’re passionate about sustainability. Sign up for our newsletter to learn about the measures we’re taking to make sure our products are good for you and the environment.”

Example:
If you’re just looking to create a standard email list for your marketing messages, perhaps you test copy that offers a monetary or percentage discount to people who sign up or invite returning visitors to join a loyalty or rewards program. “Sign up today for 15% off your first purchase!”

Function    

Besides the visual elements of your signup forms, how they function also impacts the user experience of your website. 

If someone navigates to the homepage of your site and receives a popup when they first arrive, a flyout as they scroll down the page, and then another popup as they try to leave your site, that could come across as disruptive if someone’s trying to browse.

Simply put, these interruptions that your shoppers experience could ultimately prevent them from making a purchase. 

Example:
If you visit an apparel site that shows you a popup when you first arrive and then a flyout on every product page you visit, you’re probably not going to want to stay on the site for very long because the signup forms are too distracting.

As you think about what kind of signup forms you’d like to have on your site and where you’ll place them, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. 

If you’re not sure what design, copy, or function of your signup form will resonate with your audience, you can run A/B tests on your signup forms to find out.

3 | Use a double opt-in to confirm new subscribers

Once someone provides you with their information and subscribes to your email list, you’re good to go, right? Not necessarily. 

A potential subscriber could accidentally input the wrong information (i.e., misspell their email address) or intentionally submit fake information just to receive a promotional offer. 

In either scenario, having fake or incorrect email addresses on your email list decreases the validity of your list. If email providers like Gmail and Outlook catch that you’re sending promotional messages to fake email addresses, it could impact your sender reputation and email deliverability, or your ability to land your messages in your subscribers’ inboxes. 

A double opt-in helps you sidestep this potential trap because it requires a new subscriber to confirm their information after they submit it.

image of double opt in from klaviyo

This allows subscribers to double check their information for accuracy and confirm their intent or interest in receiving communications from your brand. It also prevents any fake or incorrect email addresses from staying on your list and causing unwanted deliverability issues.

 

Build your base and grow your list

Once you learn how to collect subscribers for your email list and understand how to use the tools you have available to do so, you can start investigating more creative ways to draw in potential subscribers. 

Much like the base of a meal, the base of a successful email campaign—your email list—needs to be robust. With a healthy email list, you can shape the goal and direction of your email campaign, and tailor your email content accordingly. 

With your base established and a list of subscribers ready to receive your emails, it’s time to layer in different email campaigns that will help shape your brand’s customer experience. Read on to discover four types of emails to help you get started.

Want to learn how you can strategically grow your email list?

The main ingredients: 4 essential types of emails for your campaigns

Once you’ve taken the time to thoughtfully build the base of your dish, it’s time to add your main ingredients. If you’re making a pot pie, your main ingredients are peas, chicken, heavy cream, and puff pastry.

If you’re whipping up a personalized email experience using email marketing, your main ingredients are the types of emails and their content. 

While you can create any email you want for your campaigns, here are four main types of messages or communications to consider: 

  • Company announcements or updates
  • Email newsletters
  • New product launch messages
  • Sale promotions 

If someone comes to your table for dinner, they’re interested in the meal you’ve cooked for them. Similarly, if someone subscribes to your email list, they’re interested in the content you’ll create for them.

 

1 | Company announcements or updates

You can use your email campaign to share what’s happening in your company with your subscribers. This type of email is an opportunity to grow your audience’s awareness of your brand and create a sense of community through authentic communications.

email of company update from headly and bennett

Kitchenware brand, Hedley & Bennett served up an email fit for 2020 that communicated the brand’s update on their supply chain delays. This email campaign was transparent—it reassured recipients that their masks were on the way and set realistic expectations for shipment

Consider including:
Share some company highlights from last month or last quarter. Share your company’s mission and your progress towards achieving it.

Providing your subscribers with a behind-the-scenes look at your company, your employees, and your customers can help you create deeper connections with them.

 

2 | Email newsletter 

This type of email is designed to keep your audience up-to-date on the new content you publish on your website and upcoming events your brand is either hosting or participating in. You could also include tips on how to get the most out of your products or educational content that’s relevant to your audience. 

BeardBrand wrote a stellar blog post about men’s grooming called, “The 8 Trickiest Foods for Bearded Men.” Given their beard-centric audience, it’s a shoo-in for newsletter content.

image of blog article from beardbrand

Email newsletters are also a great medium for sharing what’s happening in your industry and positioning your brand as a thought leader. You can highlight what’s trending in your industry, new technologies your industry is using, or outline advice from industry experts.

Consider sending:
Plan to send this kind of email on pre-defined intervals that correlate with how frequently you create content or have noteworthy information to share (i.e., weekly, monthly, quarterly).

3 | New product launch messages

Product-focused emails are a great way to grow your revenue, especially if you regularly release new products or make updates to existing ones. You can also include additional information links about the product, or coupons and discounts. 

Printfresh sent an email to release a new pattern in their product line. Not only did they inform subscribers about their new pattern, but they also created a sense of urgency by mentioning that these sets were made in small batches. 

image of new product launch email campaign from print fresh

printfresh new product launch email

You can even use these types of emails to see how interested your audience is in your new product before you bring it to market.

How to gauge interest in your new products:
Imagine you sell dog treats and you have a segment of customers who routinely purchase grain-free dog treats. If you have a new treat, send an email to your VIPs and offer early access to your new product to see how your audience responds.

4 | Promotions or seasonal sales

Email campaigns are a great way to share promotional or seasonal sales with your subscribers. Use your customers’ data to segment your email list. Figure out who’s engaged with your content recently or who’s made a purchase. That way, you’re only sending your promotional emails to the people who’d be interested in receiving them.

image of a promotional email campaign from goli

Goli Nutrition sent subscribers a promotional email for a sale on their apple cider vinegar gummies. They made it clear when the sale would run and how much you could save.

Subscribers love a flash sale, especially when it offers the biggest savings to date like this email subject line promised. When you open the email, you’re met with a vibrant promotion for a discount that ends at midnight.

Tips to promote a sale:
Seasonal events are opportunities for you to run holiday sales. If Mother’s Day is approaching, think about the creative ways you could market your products in a relevant and empathic way to potentially increase sales.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the different types of emails you could send as part of your email marketing campaign. So get creative and do what works for you—and remember, A/B test (more on that in chapter 6)!

 

4 body copy tips for your emails 

Once you determine what kind of emails you want to send and who you want to send them to, it’s time to write. Consider these ideas as you start creating:

1 | Outline your emails

An outline can serve as the general frame of your email that you’ll fill in with content, images, and headings (drafts are welcome and encouraged). 

Outlining your email helps you build a cohesive theme and decide what pieces of content are relevant to include. 

2 | Personalize your emails

This tactic will largely depend on the data you have about your audience. If you know who you want to send your email to and you only have your subscriber’s email address, consider personalizing your email based on their behavior on your site. 

What pages and products have they looked at on your website? You can try including a dynamic section in your email campaign that will display previously viewed products or blog posts related to your audience’s interests.

3 | Write the body copy of email campaign

With your outline in place, it’s time to write the body of your email. Strike a good balance between text and imagery—this will improve readability. 

If you’re sending an email campaign with recaps of your most recent blog posts, try writing a short synopsis that teases the main idea of the post. You’ll intrigue the reader to click through and read the full article on your website, which is the goal. 

4 | Write (or finalize) your email headlines and add images

Writing compelling, eye-catching headlines will encourage your readers to browse the content within a section of your email. 

If you wrote drafts of your headlines before you fleshed out the body copy, revisit them to make sure they’re still relevant and clear. Since most readers will skim your email, the more your headlines can pique your subscribers’ interest, the better. 

Strong headlines will encourage them to read further into your email and ultimately get them to click through to your site. And the images you choose to include should complement your email copy. Your images are the very first thing a reader will notice as they skim your email, so make them as relevant as possible. 

With your main ingredients and the creation process underway, it’s time to start thinking about your final touches. Read on to learn how the addition of a high-performing CTA can tie your email together. 

Learn how event-triggered emails can help you build better customer relationships.

The final touches: How to create a high-performing CTA

A meal’s last additions can propel it from good to great. For a rich bowl of pasta, the final dash of deliciousness might be a sprinkle of fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon. For a steak hot off the grill, a final dusting of flaky salt could make your taste buds sing.

For an email, the call-to-action (CTA) is the final touch you need to drive conversions and provide an opportunity for your audience to connect with your brand. It’s a tactic to get subscribers to take your desired action.

But it’s not enough to simply insert a “Buy Now” button into the bottom of your email and call it day. The copy and design of your CTA can have an enormous impact on its effectiveness.

 

1 | Types of CTAs

There are a few kinds of CTAs you can include in the body copy of your emails. 

 

  • Buttons: This is the most common type of CTA. It’s eye-catching and to the point. You can make CTA buttons as big or as small as you want, and you can add text to the button to let your subscribers know what will happen once they click on it.

 

  • Hyperlinked text: The problem with hyperlinked text is that they sometimes get lost in the email. Most people simply scan through the text in emails, according to a study conducted by Neilsen Norman Group, meaning that a text-link CTA may go unnoticed. 

 

  • Image-link: This is when you turn an image into a clickable button. There are pros and cons to doing this. A pro is that it looks nice and you can customize it to align with the aesthetic of your email. A con is that up to 60 percent of recipients block images in their emails.

 

CTA buttons tend to get more clicks than simple hyperlinked text or images, but it depends on your audience, the context of your emails, and how often you use them. So take the time to test what works best for your audience.

 

2 | CTA copy 

While the type of CTA helps draw the reader’s eye, the language is what convinces the reader to click on it. Create clear copy to avoid confusing your reader.

Examples to try:

  • Encourage a purchase (shop now, save today)
  • Engage with content (read more, learn more)
  • Increase event registrants (register now, sign up)
  • Ask for feedback (take survey)

The goal here is to be as clear as possible. Rely on your copy to showcase the benefit of what you want readers to do, then include a concise CTA to encourage them to take your desired action.

 

3 | CTA placement

Some say your CTA should be “above the fold.” That means you place it at the top before someone has to scroll. Others say you should place your CTA at the end of your email. Which is best? It depends on your copy.

If your subscriber can quickly figure out what your email is about, then place the CTA above the fold. If your content requires a little context, put your CTA at the end.

If you’re not sure, run an A/B test. Place your CTA in different spots in each variation of your email, then analyze the results.

No matter where you place your CTA, the key is to make sure your reader clearly understands what you want them to do.

Quick tips:

  • Include plenty of space around the CTA
  • Make it bold and prominent
  • Keep your CTA clear and concise
  • Don’t make it too small or too big

 

4 | Number of CTAs

Include one CTA per email. Why? Because if you present your subscribers with too many next steps, you risk them not taking any. 

“It’s not about the quantity of CTAs, it’s about the relevancy and how compelling you can make the action.” — Marissa Jimenez, director of email marketing, Hawke Media

CTAs are meant to stand out and direct readers to one course of action. If you have too many CTAs dispersed throughout your email copy, then suddenly nothing stands out, leaving the subscriber confused.

So have one strong CTA per email and make sure it’s consistent, clear, and distinct.

 

5 | CTA color

Much like where you decide to place your CTA, the color of your CTA should pop. A color choice that increases the visibility of your CTA may also help to increase conversions.

Quick tip:
Consider the overall color scheme of your email. If one color dominates your email, and that color is also being used for your call-to-action, it won’t stand out. To make your CTA more prominent, try a contrasting color.

Although there are a number of best practices for creating a CTA, what works for some ecommerce brands might not work for others. While some readers might prefer buttons, others might like text-linked CTAs. Test different CTAs to see what resonates best with your audience. 

Once you’ve nailed down the final touches of your email copy, it’s time to send your email to your subscribers. Next, learn about email subject lines and how to entice your audience into opening your emails.

Plating and presentation: How to craft eye-catching email subject lines

In the culinary world, it’s often said that you eat with your eyes first. How your food is presented or plated is the first interaction you have with a meal, and it can either entice you to take your first bite or turn you off from eating entirely.  

Your email subject line is how you plate your email—it’s your method of tempting your subscribers to open it after they see it in their inbox. 

You could argue that the email subject line is as important as what’s actually in the email body copy. After all, it’s hard to convince someone to buy your products or engage with your brand in some way if they’re not even opening your emails.

Since your subject line is what your audience sees first, it’s essential that the copy is irresistible and grabs the reader’s attention.

 

7 kinds of subject lines to try

Your subject line is the first point of contact your subscribers will have with your email, so it needs to be click-worthy. And given that email subject lines are usually 40 characters or less, it’s important to keep your copy short and sweet.    

Based on the content of your email and what you’re sharing, try to build your email around one of these seven kinds of subject lines:

1 | Benefits

These subject lines are direct and speak to a specific benefit your audience will get by opening your email. They help you pre-qualify subscribers as potential customers—those who open your email are looking for something that you and your brand can provide.

Examples

  • Your best sleep yet
  • The secret to stress-free travel
  • Find your personalized skin care routine

2 | Curiosity

Email subject lines that evoke a feeling of curiosity are effective because they pique the reader’s interest without giving away too much information. If your subject line is interesting, the urge to see what’s inside may just garner a click. 

Examples: 

  • Did you get your book yet?
  • Searching for support?
  • How about a new little black dress?

3 | Offer

Promotional offers are the most popular kinds of subject lines brands use to advertise sales. Sharing the offer in the subject line lets your readers know what they can expect to find in your email.

Examples: 

  • 20% off your first order inside!
  • 25% off ends at MIDNIGHT!
  • 10% of the ultimate gift

4 | Urgency or scarcity

Subject lines that convey a sense of urgency or scarcity may stir up a fear of missing out (FOMO as it’s called these days). If something is in short supply, people might be more inclined to buy. Same with urgency—if an offer is only good for a couple more days, it might encourage your readers to buy right away.

Examples: 

  • Wait! It’s the last day!
  • Less than 48 hours to save 💫
  • GOING, GOING, GONE

5 | News

Keeping your audience in the loop about new developments and products is a great way to encourage people to open your emails. This can work especially well when combined with an element of suspense. 

Examples:

  • The inside scoop on our latest styles
  • New-must have clean beauty
  • The future of beauty is sustainable

6 | Social proof

Shoppers often look to the experience of others as they’re making purchase decisions. Put social proof in your email subject lines by teasing success stories, mentioning familiar names, or highlighting how many people are already using your products.

Examples:

  • Take it from our customers…
  • Have you seen <Name’s> favorite? 
  • The jam 50,000 people love!

7 | Stories

Telling a story, or at least teasing the beginning of one, in your subject line is a unique way to highlight your product’s benefits and potentially achieve the email opens you’re aiming for.

Examples:

  • This is what’s truly essential…Part 2 of 3
  • Feel better letter, Issue 12
  • The untold story

The hardest part of creating an email is persuading your subscribers to open it. But once they do, the other aspects of your email campaign, like your copy and CTA, will take care of the rest. 

From prep to presentation, whipping up a creative email campaign is a multi-step process. Master the fundamentals, then experiment along the way.

Keep reading to see how A/B testing can help you create smarter, more effective emails.

Curious how emojis and personalized subject lines affect your open rates?

Beyond the basics: How to A/B test components of your email campaigns

With the basics down, chefs can experiment with different ingredients or cooking techniques to creatively riff on traditional recipes. An innovative or unique experience with food can spark new conversations and determine what’s palatable to those you’re choosing to share your meal with. 

Likewise, experimenting with different aspects of your email marketing campaigns will help you determine what’s resonating with your audience. Once you know what kinds of content works, you can delight and surprise your subscribers. 

A/B tests allow you to test individual components of your email to see whether certain versions work better than others. While running these tests, you can learn a lot about the preferences of your unique audience.

 

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing is a way for you to compare two versions of something to understand which one performs better. 

First, come up with a hypothesis and set a goal for what you want to achieve in the test. Goals are typically based on a target open rate, click rate, or conversion rate for an email, but it can be any action that you think is valuable. 

To optimize each of these metrics, you can test various components of your emails—subject lines, preview text, from address, content and layout, or the time at which you send your email. 

Quick tip:
It’s important to only test one variable at a time against a control group, so you can tie any changes in opens, clicks, or conversions back to a singular change.

Perhaps you want to test how using emojis in your subject lines affects your email open rates. In order to accurately measure the impact of emojis, you’d need to keep everything else in your email the same in order to attribute any change in performance to the use (or lack of) of emojis in your subject line.

With your hypothesis and goal in mind, determine who in your audience will receive each variation. Frequently, marketers will send the original version of their emails (the control) to half their audience and the variation to the other half. 

But you can split your audience into whatever grouping you’d like. 

Quick tip:
If you’re running your first A/B test and want to be conservative, send the variation of your email campaign to only 20 percent of your audience and measure the outcome within Klaviyo. It may take longer to find statistically significant results, but overall the test will be less potentially disruptive to your campaign performance.

3 examples of how to A/B test your emails 

To perform an A/B test on your emails, follow a process:

  • Set a goal and determine your hypothesis
  • Pick you control email campaign and design the variation
  • Split you audience into test groups
  • Analyze your results

You can apply this process to essentially any component of your email marketing campaign. Here are three examples of A/B tests you can run.

1 | Subject line

Subject line A/B tests are a common way marketers try to improve their email open rates. The biggest takeaway about any A/B test is that a strategy that works for one brand may not work for another—it all depends on who makes up your audience and what resonates with them. 

Emojis convey a less serious tone, so if it makes sense for your brand try them, you can test how they affect your email open rates.

Likewise, you can test how the inclusion of your subscriber’s first name affects your performance.

Many people enjoy a good laugh every now and then. You can test out the use of humor in your email subject lines if it aligns with your brand’s tone.

2 | Sender address

Sometimes the “sent from” address can affect the performance of your email. 

image of a/b testing sender addresses

Should you send from an individual or a department or a company? If your subscribers don’t know Jane Doe from your marketing team, will they be less likely to open your emails? The only way to answer these questions is to run an A/B test to find out.

3 | Layout

You can experiment with the structure of your emails to try and optimize your click and conversion rates. 

For example, your current email newsletter might have a great click rate because you display a lot of clickable links, but your conversion rate (i.e., subscribers or product demos) might be low.

Try using a hyper-focused CTA, like a button or two throughout the email instead to strike a better balance between your click and conversion rates.

Want to take A/B testing to the next level?

Email campaigns help you create long-lasting connections with customers

Email marketing often has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel because it provides a great way for you to communicate directly with your audience and share content that your customers care about.

No other channel, including social media and paid advertising, allows you to reach your audience as effectively as email. You own your email list and control the timing and messaging of your email marketing campaigns. Much like sharing a meal, you decide what you bring to the table.

Use this guide as your cookbook to develop email campaigns and create long-lasting connections with your audience using a channel over which you have direct control.

Ready to create high-performing email marketing campaigns?

About Klaviyo

Klaviyo is a world-leading marketing automation platform dedicated to accelerating revenue and customer connection for online businesses. Klaviyo makes it easy to store, access, analyze and use transactional and behavioral data to power highly-targeted customer and prospect communications. The company’s hybrid customer-data and marketing-platform model allows companies to grow by fostering direct relationships with customers, without giving up their valuable data to popular big-tech ad platforms. Over 265,000 innovative companies like Unilever, Custom Ink, Living Proof and Huckberry sell more with Klaviyo. Learn more at www.klaviyo.com