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11 tips to improve your email marketing performance

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance, Small Business Marketing

email marketing tips image someone using a computerEmail marketing must do’s

Email marketing is a core part of many small businesses’ marketing activity. But, as a Mailchimp Partner regularly reviewing accounts for clients, we see a lot of strange practices. This article aims to point out those strange practices and give you some guidance on what you should be doing.  Here are 11 tips to help you improve your email marketing…


1. Stop sending everything to everyone

This is probably the biggest mistake we see people do.  No matter whether you have a few dozen, or many 1,000s of people in your mailing list, don’t send every email campaign you produce to every person on the list. It just annoys people and increases the number of people who unsubscribe.

Segment instead

You sell multiple products/services to multiple types of people who use what you sell in various ways.  Each campaign should only go to the contacts it is relevant for. By segmenting your audience, based on the information you have about them, you will:

  1. Increase open & click-through rates & your email marketing performance.
  2. Improve the relationship between your business and your target audience(s).

2. Have more information about your contacts

All you need, at least theoretically, is an email address to add someone to your mailing list. You can then start sending campaigns to them. This leads to a range of different problems for you, and your email marketing performance:

  • You cannot add those contacts to segments and focus your email campaigns.
  • You lose the ability to personalise.  How do you feel when an email greeting just says “Hi,”?
  • Timing is important in marketing, but how can you time your emails more effectively without any information to use?

Collect more information

Depending on your account type, Mailchimp allows you to use up to 30 (80 for premium accounts) audience fields for each contact. Combined with Groups, Segments and Tags, you can add a huge amount of information to your contact records.  Using that information to make your emails  more relevant, and therefore useful, improves your email marketing performance. Sending a campaign asking people to update their information can help you with this; it will only take a few minutes to set up and send.

3. Don’t use irrelevant subject lines

Your open rate is affected by the quality of the subject line more than anything else. A poor subject line generates poor open rates – and then impacts everything else too. A new client of mine recently sent out an email to a cold list with the subject line of “A quick catch-up?” The open rate was less than 2% – why would anyone open it?

Grab their attention!

Subject lines need to pique curiosity, especially if it is to a contact list that knows very little about you. I’ve seen people recommend subject lines like “Don’t miss out” or “Take a peek at…”. As we have been recommending you segment your audience, you should know your target personas and be able to draft subject lines that talk about the pain or what success looks like.  When we run a campaign to promote this article, the subject line is likely to be along the lines of “Are you happy with your email marketing performance?” or “Get better email marketing results with these steps”.

Testing different lines will give you better results.

4. Make sure you are testing

Email marketing platforms provide A/B testing (sometimes call split testing) options that allow you to test, and improve, your email marketing campaigns.  Testing means that most of your audience get the best performing campaigns.

If you’re testing subject lines, write 2-3 (depending on how many people in your mailing list) and then split 50% of your list over those subject lines. Whichever line wins after (usually) four hours is then sent to the remaining 50%.  That way the best content has gone to 67+% of your audience.

Test both subject lines and content

You may want to test both subject lines and content, but don’t be tempted to test both at the same time. If you do, how do you know which criteria produced the best results?

5. Make use of merge tags

Merge tags take data from an audience field and insert it into your email. This can be in the subject line, the preview or the main body. Most people will know that their name/company name has been inserted in this way, but when people see their name, it grabs their attention. They are far more likely to then act on the message, especially a compelling one.

Make use of merge tags

But use them sparingly. Inserting lots will have the opposite effect.


6. Don’t add too many Calls to Action

When you send someone a marketing email, you want them to engage. You want them to, for example, click on an offer and buy something. Alternatively, you may want them to read an article. If you put too many links and buttons into your email marketing campaigns, you reduce the number of people who will do what you want them to do. The more opportunities people have to click, the less likely they are to pick the one you want them to.

Add text links and buttons

if your main call to action is a big bold button, add a link, early in the text, to the same place. People often click the first link they come to, so by doing this you increase the number of people who go where you want them to go.

7. Make sure you have some Calls to Action

At the opposite end of the scale, I see campaigns going out with no calls to action, or just email reply clicks. The easier, and less scary, you make it for people to engage with your marketing, the better.  With >70% of the sales process often taking place before a buyer talks to sales person, offering only an email link, for example, will put lots of people off.

8. Add a sign off section

When you email someone from Outlook or gmail, you have a block at the bottom, starting with “kind regards” or something similar. So why do you not have one on your email marketing campaigns? People love to engage with people so why make your emails come from a faceless organisation?

For small businesses, this is even more important. The owner of many small businesses is the figurehead. The person people want to engage with; the person they think of when your company name is in their head. As companies grow, they will be more people who become the face of the business, but people still want to engage with people. A sign-off block helps people to imagine that face and your brand.

Multiple ways to get hold of you

We recommend you include multiple ways to get hold of your small business in your sign off block. Not everyone wants to go via your website; some want to talk directly to you.

9. Send the email campaign again

When you send an email marketing campaign, XX% will open it. But that leaves a lot of others who didn’t. Some will see it, but ignore it because of the subject line. Some will simply miss it because of the amount of emails they get and how busy they are.

Sending a campaign again will get more people reading it and doing what you want them to do. But, please, only send it to those who didn’t open it first time!  All email marketing platforms have tools that allow you to filter your audience – some are better than others.

Resend soon

You should send this second version at a different time of day and within 24-72 hours of the first one to maximise the success of this one. You should see a 25-50% uplift in email opens.


10.Follow up

Your email campaigns are there to get the contacts within your mailing list to engage; to do what you want them to do. But sometimes, especially when you have a high ticket value, they need a nudge.  Do you look at what your contacts have been doing and then follow up?  If not, you’re missing out on sales.

Choose who to follow up first

Use the contact rating (Mailchimp term) or equivalent to identify the people who are frequently opening and clicking on your campaigns. Call them or email them from your personal account to follow up and help them towards buying from you. Look at what they have been clicking on to identify what is of interest – and therefore what to talk about.

11. Make sure your campaigns go out regularly

As the last of our email marketing tips for improving your email marketing performance, make sure you are sending regularly.  Too frequently and you will annoy people (leading to unsubscribes), but too infrequently and you run the risk of people forgetting who you are.

Regularity you can commit to

If you find yourself with plenty of time, don’t increase the frequency of your emails, as people will come to expect more from you. Something you may not be able to deliver when you get busy again. Far better to use the time to generate the campaigns, and then schedule them to go out at a frequency you know you can maintain when you are busy.


We hope these 11 email marketing tips help you to improve your email marketing performance. If you need any more guidance or would like an independent review of your email marketing, let us know. As a Mailchimp Partner, we can review your Mailchimp account without needing your log-in details and without using a precious seat. We do also review other platforms.

replicate your email campaign

How to improve your email marketing performance by at least 50%

By A Helping Hand, Marketing Performance

Email is still one of the best performing marketing channels. With 281 billion emails sent every day, including over one billion per day by Mailchimp, it may seem that your Inbox is flooded and individual emails will be missed. But with a few simple changes to how you run your campaigns, you can easily increase your email marketing’s performance. Let’s talk you through how to improve your email marketing performance by at least 50% in just two minutes.

1. Send your email campaign as normal

Whatever your email campaign is about, send your campaign in your normal way.

2. Replicate your emailreplicate your email campaign

Whatever email marketing platform you use, you will be able to do this. Some may not be as easy as Mailchimp makes it, but the steps shown here are all achievable in every platform.

  • Go to your Campaigns list
  • Find the email campaign you have just sent.
  • Click Replicate. The idea is that you will be sending exactly the same email.

If your email marketing tool doesn’t give you a one-click option to do this, you should be able to either copy the HTML code or copy the contents and simply paste into a new campaign.  The replicated campaign will be titled the same as the previous one, plus (Copy 1). Keep this title, as it allows you to identify them in the future and measure your own performance.

3. Edit your audience

edit your audience for your email campaign

The last thing you want to do is upset the people on your mailing list, so you don’t want to send your email campaign to either:

  • The people who have already opened it
  • The people that isn’t relevant to

To do this…

1.       Campaign Activity – who were sent – [name of campaign]

2.       Campaign Activity – who did not open – [name of campaign]

It is very important you select ALL at this stage.  If you don’t, you will send the 2nd email to lots of people you didn’t mean to.


If you choose ANY rather than ALL, the following will happen…

1.       It will go to everyone who you sent the original campaign to

2.       It will go to everyone in your list who didn’t open the campaign, whether they were sent it, or not.


4. Edit the Subject Lineedit the subject line to improve email marketing performance

If your previous subject line didn’t get people to open it, they are unlikely to open it next time, if you use the same subject line.  Change the subject line. Perhaps ask a question, challenge them, or refer to another way this replicated email campaign can help the reader.


5. Schedule within 48 hours

Dependent on how time sensitive your email is, you may want to do this just 12 hours later, but it should be soon after the first campaign.


Once you have sent the replicated campaign, you will be able to see whether you an additional 50% opened it, or even more.


Historical Results

To support this article, we analysed data from email campaigns run by some of our clients over the last few years.  The data looked at 628 email campaigns over the last 5 years.

Average Open Rate on first email: 23.8%

Average Open rate on Replicated email: 16.0%

This equates to a 51.25% increase in the number of people who read the email

The replicated campaigns added a further 35% to the number of people who clicked through.

Of course, we cannot guarantee this will be the case for everyone, as it will vary from company to company. Rates across the client data analysed ranged from 24 – 69% increase in open rates, and clickthrough rates ranged from 34% – 64%.

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SME Needs is a Mailchimp Partner

Mailchimp’s New Customer Journeys

By A Helping Hand, Delivering your marketing, Small Business Marketing, Strategic Planning, Technology & your business

screenshot image for Mailchimp Customer Journeys

At Last!

Customer Journeys, from Mailchimp goes live from today and will be available to all Mailchimp customers by the 7th August. It is something that we’ve been waiting for, for a very long time. Here is why.

Single Routing

Mailchimp’s products have a huge number of positives and that’s why we’re a Mailchimp Certified Partner. The Automation function meant that we could set up email campaigns, for our clients and ourselves, to go to people based on specific criteria, whether this was information in certain contact fields or Tags. But after that first email went out, Automations only gave you limited options:

  • Send the next email if they clicked
  • Send the next email X period afterwards

If you wanted to have multiple options, you had to set up multiple automations, based on the actions your contacts took from the previous email.

Single Starting Points

A single starting point also limited your options, or complicated matters as you built multiple Automations. Multiple automations increased your chances of doing something not quite right, which could upset your contacts.

As you can see from the image, that is now changing…

image showing Mailchimp Customer Journeys

Simplified Marketing

With the opportunity to use multiple triggers and multiple branches, it definitely means that email marketing will become a little simpler. I definitely see it as a time saver and it will save our clients some money, as we are not building large numbers of automations.

First Impressions

Even as a Mailchimp Partner, we haven’t got this functionality on our accounts yet; it goes live today. We will be spending quite some time looking in more detail at how Customer Journeys works and the benefits it can bring for us and for our clients. As soon as we have had a “play”, we will report back on our first impressions.

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dump em - the prospects not engaging with your marketing

Dump those who aren’t engaging with your marketing

By A Helping Hand, Customer Understanding, Marketing Performance

dump em - the prospects not engaging with your marketingAs a business owner, you want people engaging with your marketing.

That means it grabs the attention of your target audience, it educates them on why they should use your product/services and they jump willingly into your sales pipeline as a new lead. Marketing engagement is key.

If people aren’t engaging with your marketing you have two choices:

  1. Continue trying to engage them
  2. Dump ‘em

Let’s look at the options.

Continue trying to engage

People who really aren’t responding to your marketing are sending you a message: they’re not interested! If they really aren’t opening any of your emails, responding to your social media activity or even taking your calls, you have to consider whether this is a good use of your time. If they were interested, they would be interacting at least some of the time.

  • They are consuming your mental energy because you believe there is still an opportunity for a sale with at least some of them.
  • You spend time liking, retweeting and responding to social media posts. Time that is a scarce resource.
  • Keeping them on your mailing lists impacts your marketing stats, making open/clickthrough rates lower than they should be.

Dump ‘Em

If you simply remove them from your mailing lists (what member rating do they have in MailChimp?) and stop engaging with their social media, you have that most precious resource to invest in those who are engaging.

Those who are engaging with you want to know more. They want you to talk to them and they are far more likely to buy from you.

The consequences

Let’s think about all of this:

Who would you rather invest your time in? Those who are engaged are likely to buy from you and your time is far better spent on them. Which is a safer bet: 3:1 or 50:1?

There is a slim chance that those who aren’t currently engaged will come back to you. It may be that they aren’t ready to buy from you just yet. I know I’ve suggested you take them off your mailing list (GDPR and all that), but that doesn’t mean you have to cut all ties. You may still be following them on Twitter and you may still be connected on LinkedIn. What’s more, by giving your time and mental effort to those more engaged, you ensure your business is still around when others return.

Size Doesn’t Matter

By Marketing Performance

Too many businesses, and people, are obsessed with size. They believe bigger is better. If we are talking about ice cream portions or wine glasses, this may be true. When we’re discussing marketing data, it really is a case of size doesn’t matter.

Let me be blunt:

  • More LinkedIn connections doesn’t make you a better entrepreneur
  • More email addresses in your mailing list doesn’t mean you’re a better business
  • Putting more money into your marketing budget doesn’t mean you will grow faster


To maintain the innuendo, it’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts.

Let me explain.

LinkedIn connections

There are many people who will look down on you if your LinkedIn connections number doesn’t say 500+. They are deluded into thinking that having more connections will mean that more people will see what they write in their updates and that will lead to more sales. They will see that XXXX people saw their last update and think that their use of LinkedIn is great. Actually the real measure is the number of people who reach out via LinkedIn and ask for your services. Which is better?

30,000 connections, 2000+ impressions a day and 2 calls per month, or

450 connections, 80 impressions a day and 4 calls per month?

Have you ever asked a LinkedIn connection for an introduction to someone you want to talk to? How often do they respond “of course” and they fire off an introduction email via the LinkedIn functionality? Alternatively, do they respond along the lines of “I don’t really know them that well….”?

If you think of LinkedIn as one big networking event, you are far more likely to be introduced or referred by people you know, like and trust. If you are connected simply because you accepted a connection request, what’s the point?

Of course, if you have steadily built up a network that reaches into the 1000’s and you still know what each of them does and what they are looking for, that’s great because I am sure you are generating a huge amount of new business from your network. You are a rarity!

Mailing list size

Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cashflow is reality – as the saying goes. It’s the same with email marketing

List size is vanity, open rates are sanity but click throughs are reality.

In other words, why send out 1000’s of emails if few people are engaging? You are far better off having 1000 people, a 20% open rate and 5% click through than a 1% open rate because you have 50,000 on your list. This is particularly relevant if your email marketing tool charges you per email!

The number that is better in email marketing is the variants of any email. The more variants that show the recipient you are talking to them, the better. Relevancy and personalisation are key to developing high open and click-through rates.

Marketing Budget

The standard number for B2B companies is 10%. You should be investing 10% of revenue in marketing your business – outside of salaries. For some companies, this may not be possible if gross profits are below 10%, but it should be for most. Some companies invest far more (Red Bull: 38%) than others but they have expensive “hobbies” such as Formula One and air racing! Saying that, it works or they wouldn’t be able to spend that sort of money.

The size of your marketing budget depends on the size of your target audience and the return on investment. If you simply throw more money at your marketing, you may be lucky and get more leads and sales, but that will only be if you invest in the marketing channels that are delivering that ROI.

I am sure you can think of many more ways where businesses think that bigger is better, but these are the key marketing faux pars. I hope this helps.

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