For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42

Autopilot in Email marketing on 16th of Jul 2020
email report and graph coming out of computer

For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42

Email marketing practices 2020

Email marketing has long been the cornerstone of every digital marketing strategy. The reliance of marketers on this particular channel stems from one key attribute: it works. Email is the primary method by which consumers want to hear from a trusted brand, it is cost-efficient and effective, and accordingly offers an unbeatable ROI when compared to other digital channels. In fact, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42 (Litmus’ 2019 State of Email Survey). This is even more impressive when you consider that less than two years ago, that average ROI was $32 for every dollar spent.

Email marketing has become even more relevant in recent times. According to a June 2020 report, there has been a 44% increase in email sends since the beginning of COVID-19, with companies communicating not only how they are responding to the global pandemic, but keeping their audiences updated on changes, and creating touch points to remain ‘top-of-mind.’ There has been a corresponding increase in open rates, indicating that these audiences are indeed interested in hearing what brands have to say, and engaging with them through email.

This is particularly true in the e-commerce space, with the US seeing a 74% increase in online shopping since March (Retail Customer Experience, 2020). In their Q1 2020 Report, e-commerce platform giant Shopify highlighted that new store creation grew 62% as more traditional brick and mortar stores followed consumers online. Email played a significant role for these businesses in not only advising their existing customer base that they could now purchase online, but also in attracting new business, and collecting customer data to continue to refine and optimize their marketing strategy.

If you’re looking to ramp up your email marketing in 2020, here’s three useful tips to keep in mind when creating your next email or email campaign.


Adding personalization to your emails isn’t a new concept, but it is a simple, effective way to grab the reader's attention immediately and bestow a relevancy to your content. The average email open rates across all industries sits at 17.8%, whilst emails that use personalization perform better with a 26% open rate (Campaign Monitor).

Personalization can be simply adding a contact’s first name into the subject line, or using a unique greeting based on their timezone. It can also be more granular, such as in the journey below where we use contacts’ website visits to send them content that matches what they showed interest in. We’ve used the example of a beauty parlour or day spa business, to explore how you can track visits to uniques pages, and use previous contact behaviour to send a personalized email follow up. This kind of personalization is based on taking a contact’s preference data, and tailoring your content to suit.

Relevant content only

It is expected that by 2020, 333 billion emails will be sent and received daily (Statista, 2018). This highlights two things: firstly, email marketing will continue to be a powerful channel of communication, and; secondly, that it will become increasingly difficult for brands to compete for the attention of their audience.

This is why it is integral that your content is actually relevant to your audience's interests. You should know what those interests are based on data. For a lead, what was the lead source? For a return customer, what have they purchased before, and what has their engagement been either with your website, or your communications. And if you still don’t know - ask. With a simple data enrichment email, you can ask your contacts to identify exactly what they have or perhaps what they need, again increasing the preference data at your disposal and enabling you to tailor your future sends to craft content and offers they’ll actually be interested in.

We also recommend using A/B split tests for your content. In an A/B split, you can segment a portion of your contacts away from the rest to selectively target them, or test out two pieces of content on your audience, such as two different subject lines or layouts. In the journey below, we’ve split our audience, and then split tested the content on the smaller sample audience. By doing this, you can confirm which email works best, and confidently send the best version out to the rest of your contacts.


More than 20% of commercial emails will never reach an intended recipient’s inbox (Return Path). It’s why building and maintaining a high sender reputation is so important, as a relevant, personalized email has no value if it’s never read.

There’s a number of ways to improve your sender reputation but you should focus on two in particular when approaching a campaign.

Firstly, avoiding the use of any spam trigger words in your email subject line. Typically, these words can be grouped into these 6 broad categories:

  1. Manipulative: creating unnecessary urgency or pressure
  2. Needy: sounding desperate or exaggerated claims
  3. Sleazy: being too pushy
  4. Cheap: no pre-qualifications, everybody wins
  5. Far-fetched: statements that are too good to be true
  6. Shady: ethically or legally questionable behavior

By way of quick reference, we recently compiled this list of 202 email spam trigger words to avoid.

The second consideration is the audience you have created for your email campaign, ensuring it is a quality list of subscribed contacts. Short term, if your subscribers are unengaged, this will reduce the engagement rates (opens and clicks) and reflect on the performance of the campaign. Long term, it will also impact your deliverability as email clients use these engagement metrics to judge the quality of your sends. Accordingly if you are sending lots of emails to contacts that don’t engage, it can hurt your reputation long term.

One suggestion is to set up a list specific unsubscribe option in your emails, to allow contacts to opt out of particular email types, rather than all of them. This will ensure those that are not interested, and won’t engage with those email types, can be removed, improving the quality of your lists.

Simple, yet effective, email marketing

These three tips are not novel, and they don’t form some magic bullet to drastically improve your engagement rates, sales and ultimately bottom line. However, they are simple yet effective things to consider whenever you plan your next campaign or compose your next email communications. Either with your next send, or perhaps over time, you’ll start to see the benefits and reap a ROI on your email marketing spend well in excess of that $42.

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