email marketingEmail is one of the most important revenue drivers for any business with a digital presence. It’s part of your customers’ daily (if not hourly) routines. Without an optimized email marketing strategy, you’re missing out on the chance to stay top of inbox and top of mind. If you know your customers like they’re family, it’s time to develop a personalized journey to guide them through the sales funnel.

Getting Started

The first step of any successful email campaign is email capture. Set realistic goals against which you can benchmark your progress as you build your list. You can try any or all of the following techniques to grab those all-important @s:

  • A subscription form on various pages of your website
  • A pop-up subscription form that appears based on various triggers (first time visitor, time on site, actions performed, etc.)
  • A content locker requiring users to enter their info to access content
  • A check box for a subscription to your emails on purchase or account creation screens

Growing your email list organically is the best approach and almost always provides stronger leads. Giveaways can be effective, but it’s risky to rely on them too often. One thing you should never do? Rent or buy lists from third-party companies.


So you’ve got your list. Now what?

The answer depends on various factors. Chief among these is our best friend at Hawke: data. You should already know a few things about the customers on your email list, like where they signed up for your list and whether they’ve made any purchases. You might even have some demographic info, but that’s just a bonus at this early stage.

The first emails you send out (known as onboarding emails) should demonstrate not just the unique value props of your company, brand and products/services, but also the benefits of being on the email list. This will keep subscribers interested and engaged.

You’ll then want to create a series of automated transactional emails, which are messages triggered to send when a user performs a specific action on your site or app. These emails are typically informative about the action the user took.

Your regularly scheduled emails are next. Depending on your audience and their habits, you’ll want to determine a send frequency that best serves your goals and their needs. No matter the focus of these emails, they should always add value for readers. Content can be very effective in this regard. For instance, weekly newsletters that inform your community about industry trends establish you and your brand as a thought leader and build stronger ties with your customers by offering useful information without constantly pushing sales.

There are, of course, times when pushing sales is not only appropriate, but a highly effective strategy. After a customer purchases a product or a service, an upsell email informing them about related products or services often presents an easy revenue opportunity. The nuance is in crafting a message that isn’t overtly salesy, but still promotes the sale.

At every step of the way, monitor performance and review data. As you learn more and more about your customers, you’ll be able to break them up into narrower segments. This allows you to target your email strategies more effectively. For instance, you might enter frequent customers into a different series than a customer who hasn’t opened your emails in a while. Even regular content emails should be segmented as much as possible. Segmentation is your opportunity to make your email strategy as personal as possible.


Numbers don’t lie. Here are some key data points and metrics to keep an eye on to make sure your email campaigns are moving in the right direction.

Open Rate

This is the percentage of emails sent that end up being opened. It’s not a perfect measure of effectiveness, but it’s definitely the best way to gauge whether or not your email community is interested in your content. There is no universal standard for a good open rate, as they vary based on content, products and target audience, but you can find some averages based on industry here.

No matter what it is, always try to improve it. Test out different methods to build an understanding of what works. A lot of the time, you can look no further than the subject line, but timing and frequency also play a major role in the success of your email campaigns.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

OK, so you’ve got a solid open rate. They’re interested in reading your email content. But is the content effective in getting them to visit your website and landing pages? You want your CTR to be as close to your open rate as possible. If everyone who opens your emails is clicking through to your website, you’ve got some damn good content! If your CTR is low, it’s time to rethink what you’re sending out.

Pay attention to what specific links are getting the most action. This will reveal what your customers are most interested in. Are they only clicking on deals? Or are they more interested in your blog content? By identifying where they’re going, you can reshape the content of your emails to give the people what they want.

Bounce Rate

This metric measures user behavior once they’ve clicked through to your website or landing page. If a significant portion of users bounce right away, you need to diagnose the problem. There needs to be consistency between your email content and the pages you’re directing your users to. If they don’t find the products or content they’ve been made to expect from the email that brought them there, they won’t stay long. Even if it’s the right stuff, it still has to be compelling. Nobody wants to stick around a boring landing page.

Deliverability Rate

This is the percentage of your emails that actually hit inboxes. If a significant portion of your emails are bouncing, email service providers are more likely to tag your messages as spam which, in the email marketing world, is akin to a death sentence. Keep your deliverability rate high by cleaning up your list every six months or so, removing addresses that don’t receive your emails (and even those who do receive them, but consistently don’t open them).


Although it can be difficult to attribute sales directly to email marketing efforts, looking at your revenue figures in conjunction with the other metrics discussed here can produce some important insights. If these rates are high, but sales are weak, you may discover deficiencies in other elements of your marketing strategy. If sales are strong, but email figures are ugly, you could be missing out on email-related revenue.



Nurturing campaigns are the series of emails designed to move a customer toward purchase once they’ve opted into receiving emails.

These campaigns help build strong relationships over time. Don’t overwhelm your email recipients with too much content or barrage them with messages too frequently. Start by considering content, timing and frequency. What type of content are your users most likely to respond to? Diving into value props is always a good place to start. For instance, if you’re trying to encourage free users of an app to upgrade to premium, a series of emails focusing on different exclusive features might do the trick.

You could also position your brand as a source of valuable information related to your industry, tying back to your brand either implicitly or explicitly. No matter which direction you choose, always provide value to the recipient. Whether you’re demonstrating how your products or services are unique or providing lifestyle tips, keep content clear, concise and engaging. Link back to your website, a landing page or social channels whenever possible without cluttering the copy with hyperlinks. As always, make sure your messaging and voice are consistent among your emails and all other marketing channels.

Once you’ve determined the content of your nurturing series, give careful consideration to timing and frequency. The right message at the wrong time might not even get opened. Or it could miss the mark and disrupt potential customers’ progression toward conversion. When are potential customers most likely to engage with an email from your brand? If you’re marketing to professionals, maybe 9am isn’t the best time. How often should I be reaching out to them? Blast them too often and you’ll see a lot of users unsubscribe from your list. On the flip side, if too much time passes, they might forget you exist.

As always, testing will reveal valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t. But you can use data to your advantage beyond determining what strategies to double down on. Segment your audience as much as possible based on demographic and behavioral information. The more granular you can get, the better. The nuance of email marketing is in personalization – developing a variety of highly targeted nurturing series for various specific customer segments will allow you deliver a message that will resonate more deeply.

Once you’ve nurtured your email recipients all the way to purchase, the focus shifts to retention campaigns that will keep them coming back for more.


You’ve nurtured relationships with your leads and turned them into customers. They’ve proven their desire for your products and services, so you need to invest the proper time and strategy into keeping them coming back. The only way to capitalize on this low-hanging fruit is by keeping their attention.

Retention campaigns are often automated sends. As with your nurturing campaigns, timing is important – too many emails and people will ignore them or unsubscribe; too few and your brand will become a distant memory. Content is also just as important for retaining customers as it is for nurturing them. However, you have more room to be creative in retention campaigns.

Because you don’t need to be as convincing – these customers have already opened their wallets to you – you can explore new topics and formats that are highly entertaining and engaging, but may not be as effective in converting new leads into paying customers. The more interactive and dynamic your retention email content is, the better. One great example is this “accidental” email sent from a supposed intern at Brooklinen, spilling the beans on an upcoming sale.

Repurposing content you’ve created for other marketing efforts can also prove efficient. Even if you’re not using it directly, link back to it to drive additional traffic to your site. Promotions are also an effective method for keeping up interest among existing customers, as long as they’re relevant (like a seasonal campaign).

You Got This!

Personalization is key in email marketing. Reaching your customer with the appropriate message for the stage they’re at in their customer journey is crucial. 

Break recipients into groups based on demographic, behavioral and other characteristics so you can properly tailor appropriate messaging and content that will feel like it’s just for them. And be sure to pay attention to your metrics so you can definitively measure the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

If you’d like to see how Hawke’s email marketing team can help your business with its email marketing, shoot us an email at and we’ll get you connected to an expert.

Jared is Hawke Media’s Content Manager.

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