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The most important email optimization elements

Marketers know there is no one formula for an ideal email marketing campaign. The secret to success is testing and optimizing emails. In-depth analysis of previous results and well-considered changes in email elements can significantly boost your email marketing ROI.

Marketing research firm MarketingSherpa has published marketing research chart on top email campaign elements routinely tested to optimize performance. The chart shows 9 email elements that are tested the most in order to increase the return on email marketing efforts.

The more you are in email marketing, the more you understand the importance of studying analytic and making some changes over time to increase ROI.

The best way is to take a step back and look at your message form the customer’s perspective. So, let’s have a walk in our customer’s shoes. What questions could he ask when receiving a newsletter?

Subject line – Why should I open your email?

As opening of email depends on the subject line, it is the most popular element to test and 90% of email marketing practitioners focus on that.
Vary with word order leaving the most important ones at the beginning, try questions, buzzwords and active voice inviting people to take action. And certainly write them short and adjust for mobile phones to increase open rates of mobile readers (more about subject lines).

Message – Why should I read your email?

The majority or 64% of marketers share the opinion the message should be regularly analyzed and tested in order to boost the effectiveness of email campaigns.
After the subscriber has swallowed the subject line and opened the email, he desperately seeks approval for this action in the message.
Test on the first words and phrases in the message. Make sure they are linked with the subject line. And write message in active voice to make people take a further step.

Calls to action – Why should I click on the link?

Almost as many marketers (61%) test on calls to action. It’s very important testing element because clicking on a link is already a half of all campaign success.
Try different wording (people prefer „learn more”, not „click here”) and placement (instead of traditional „at the end” use F-shape across the page). Make sure there is only one call to action, however links can be several (read our article about call to action).

Layout and images – Is this email eye-catching?

According to MarketingSherpa chart, more than a half of marketers have tested email layout and images to improve campaign results.
Test on how the text is structured and what kind of photos you place in email. Bullets, paragraphs, enough free space, one or two pictures stressing the message would be the best choice.

Day of week and time of day sent – Do I want and do I have time to open your email now?

A little bit less than a half of marketers search for an ideal day and time when to send newsletters.
Firstly, identify the profile of your subscriber. If they are too different, better segment them. Send emails to business people on working hours on Tuesdays to Thursdays. Usual customers you can email on Fridays to Sundays when they have free time (read in our blog when to sent emails).

Landing pages – Is your offer worth it?

40% of marketers test and optimize landing pages to increase email marketing ROI.
Here you can test on layout, text, call to action and other details. But be sure you include a clear call to action, tell the subscribers exactly what is your offer and what kind of action you want them to take (more about landing pages).

Personalization – Is it relationship between us?

The same number of marketers pay attention to personalization. Personalization is not only adding subscriber’s name at the beginning and your personal signature at the end of email. Segment your subscribers into groups to send them relevant emails. The more personalized information you send, the closer relationship you demonstrate (read about email personalization).

From line – Do I know the sender of the email?

Although from line also has impact on open rates, only a third of marketers test on that. Change the company name to your personal name to grow the effectiveness of results (more about from lines).

In comparison with last year

A year ago, we published the previous MarketingSherpa chart on elements marketers test in order to optimize email campaigns. If we compare the two charts, we see tested email elements are the same – subject lines, offers and calls to action, send time and day of week, creative copy and layouts, landing pages, and from lines.

But the importance of testing elements has jumped dramatically. In 2010, 48% of marketers tested subject lines and 36% were willing to test them. This year, 90% of marketers have included testing subject lines in their to-do lists. The same increase for other elements. Seems all who had planned to test email elements did it, were satisfied with results and now continue to do this.


Some elements are easier to test than others. In campaign statistics, you see open rates and click through rates, so you can estimate your subject line and call to action link. While you can’t precisely know how effective your layout or images were. Only regular testing and optimizing can lead you to high ROI.

Just don’t rush by changing each element every time you send campaigns. If you make changes, give yourself some time to observe the impact of changes and draw conclusions.

1 thought on “The most important email optimization elements

  1. Some fantastic tips and a great breakdown on why each part of an email needs to be optimised. As you said getting people to open the email is by far one of the toughest metrics.

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