How To Create Engaging Email Marketing

If you’re not using email marketing for your business then you’re missing out on a powerful marketing tool to stay connected with your customers, generate leads and increase sales.

In 2019 there were 3.9 billion email users globally, and in 2023 that’s set to increase to 4.3 billion. That’s half the global population and a whole lot of people logging into their inbox every day, who could be reading your emails.

Plus, email marketing can deliver a really strong ROI (return on investment).

Research by the Direct Marketing Association in 2019 found that for every £1 spent on email marketing a B2C business will get an average return of £48, and a B2B business will see an average return of £36. Making it not only a good tool for customer retention and engagement but also a powerful revenue stream.

But, email marketing can be a tricky beast to get right.

If you’re going to start an email marketing campaign then you need to make sure you don’t spam your audience, and that you give them a reason to open your email each time it lands in their inbox.

So, we’re here to give you some top tips to make sure your email campaigns hit the mark and deliver the best return for your business.

Subject Line

This is your hello. It’s the first thing people will see when they receive your email and it is the key to whether they read on, or hit the delete button.

It needs to grab their attention, pique their interest and make them want to find out more. But ideally, it needs to do all that in less than 9 words/60 characters.

Try to think about it from your reader’s perspective, what is the biggest benefit they will get from your email? What will make them smile? What will make them curious to know more? But always make sure it’s relevant and on-brand. Be careful to avoid falling into the realms of spam or clickbait as they’re surefire ways to get your readers to hit the unsubscribe button.

Here are a few examples to give you some inspiration:

– Groupon’s: “The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”
– Movember’s “Grow a moustache and change the world”
– Edgevale’s “Get In Our Pants”
– Our own “PRO TIP: Nobody Cares What Your Favourite Colour Is”


– “1,750 points for you. Valentine’s flowers & more for them.”
– “Is this the hottest career in marketing?”
– “The price dropped for something in your cart”
– “Learn a language with only 5 minutes per day”
– “Are you free this Thurs at 12 PM? [guest blogging class]”
– “Where to Drink Beer Right Now”

Preview Text

So you’ve piqued their interest with the subject line. They’ve not hit the delete button, but they’re not quite sold on opening your email just yet. This is where the pre-text or preview text comes in. It’s a small bit of copy that sits under the subject line in your recipient’s inbox and can be a powerful tool to secure that open.

If you don’t manually add a piece of preview text it’s automatically populated by the first bit of content in your email. This invariably isn’t the strongest piece of copy and means you lose a vital opportunity to engage your reader.

Like the subject line, you need to keep it short, to the point and engaging. It should follow on from the subject line, reinforcing the message and what your reader will get from opening your email.

The best practice is for this to stay at around 50 characters and keep the most important message at the beginning. As the preview text can be cut off depending on the size of the inbox viewing pane.

Design & Content

Congratulations, you’ve got them to open your email but it looks like crap, has as much copy as War and Peace and you’re quickly sent to the trash can. Meaning all your effort on the subject line and preview text has been wasted.

Your email should look good, be on brand, concise and be responsive.


Yes! It should look good on desktop AND mobile. 46% of emails are opened on a mobile device and 33% of business professionals check their email on their phone. So don’t underestimate the importance of how your email will look and work on these devices. And while we’re on the subject of responsive design, you may want to check out our previous post ‘What is a mobile responsive website?’. As trust us, this is even more important than having a responsive email.

As for the content, keep it clear and concise. Focus on one main goal. For example, do you want to promote a new product line or service, or get sign-ups for a new course? Lead with that but keep it simple. Strong visuals and a short piece of copy are all you need. You did the hard work of getting them to open your email, now you need to finish the job and get them to click on your CTA.


Call to action, e.g. buttons to read more, download content, click to buy. etc. Without them, you’ve just spent your time creating a great email, but you’re going to get zero results for your business.

A/B Testing

It’s a good idea to test your emails before you send them out.

This is done by sending two different versions of your email to a small section of your database to see which one delivers the best response.

Once you know which version of your subject line, preview text and main email design is the strongest you then send that version out to your full database. Maximising the results and return on your campaign.

Send Time

The best time to send your email can depend on your audience. Ask yourself, when are they most likely to be checking their emails?

If you’re unsure, most mail clients can analyse and optimise your send time for you.

However, if you don’t have that functionality, or aren’t sure, then a general rule of thumb is to send your email during the week at either 10 am, 1 pm or 6 pm.

These are the times that see the highest click-to-open rates and reflect when most people begin or end their day and have the time to check their inboxes.

Measuring Results & Analysis

You can measure the results of your email campaign in a few ways:

Open Rate

The % of people who opened your email vs. The number who received it. A good open rate sits between 19 and 26% depending on your sector.

Source: Hubspot

Click-Through Rate

The % of people who clicked on your email vs. The number who received it. A good click-through rate sits between 6.8 and 9.3% depending on your sector.

Source: Hubspot

Conversion Rate

The number of people who completed your desired goal. Which could be anything from making a purchase, leaving a review, entering a competition or signing up for a course.

Bounce Rate

The % of emails that didn’t make it to the recipient’s inbox. This could be due to the email no longer being in service, or because you have the wrong address for them. The average bounce rate sits between 0.3 and 0.9% depending on your sector.

Source: Hubspot

Unsubscribe Rate

Pretty self-explanatory, but it’s the number of people who decide to opt out of receiving any more of your emails.

The average unsubscribe rate sits between 0.3 and 0.6% depending on your sector.

Source: Hubspot

It is always best to check and compare the results of your email marketing to better understand what content best engages your audience and minimises your unsubscribes.

Plus, always make sure you clean bounced email addresses off of your mailing list. Regularly sending emails to bad email addresses tells email providers that you have poor data collection processes and you can be tagged as spam for future campaigns.

Staying Compliant

Legally, every email you send MUST have a clear and simple way for people to unsubscribe.

Generally, if you’re using a mailing service such as Mailchimp, Hubspot or Arkflux they include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.


Research shows that 49% of customers like to receive emails from their favourite brands on a weekly basis.

But, remember that no one likes to feel like they’re being spammed. So if you don’t have anything of value to send on a weekly basis don’t do it.

A useful, engaging and valuable email sent on a fortnightly or monthly basis will always deliver a better response and retention rate than sending out weekly emails just for the sake of it.

Written by Lee Skellett

Co-founder of Kakadu Creative, Lee honed his craft in the fast-paced, hugely competitive magazine industry. He not only has a keen eye for detail, but he knows how to make an impact with bold, creative and effective design and branding.
November 30, 2020

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