eFail! Top email marketing mistakes (and how to fix them)

Any business with an online presence has received their fair share of bad marketing emails. And we’re no exception. You would not believe some of the email marketing mistakes that have found their way into our inboxes. Sometimes we’re tempted to hit ‘reply’ and start typing “I think you may need a little help with your digital marketing...”

Well, in this blog, we’ll be doing just that. We’ll take some examples we’ve received, cast a critical eye over the email marketing mistakes that have been made and provide some constructive advice on how to fix them.

So, without further ado, and with their names and businesses disguised to protect the (not so) innocent – let’s take a look at some email fails:

1. Don’t just ‘phone it in’



It’s often said that being brief and getting straight to the point are big virtues in marketing – or in any kind of communications. Here, the spirit of Ernest Hemingway is alive and well. But this is taking that mantra a little too far. Not only aren’t they demonstrating any interest or insight into our business, but they’re also giving us no real information about theirs. Call me cynical, but this does not strike me as an email that was written with a great deal of effort and consideration.

What can we tell from this email?

  • They’re a company of some kind (well, that narrows it down).
  • They provide ‘business contacts’ for ‘marketing purposes’ – so far, so vague.
  • They’d like to send over a ‘sample’ for free. A sample of what? One list? One contact?

Okay, you don’t want to drown your recipients in an ocean of unnecessary text. That’s often a good way to end up in the ‘Deleted items’ folder. But you have to be clear about who you are, your product or service and the value you offer prospective customers.

Moral of the story: put some thought and craft into it. Think about your value proposition and your audience’s needs and goals. If you express those, you’ll be off to a good start.

2. Target and personalise



We just warned against the dangers of being too brief. Well, this is the opposite. The sender clearly hasn’t segmented their list of contacts or their offerings in any way – they’re just telling us about every single thing they provide. Which, by the looks of things, includes everything but the proverbial kitchen sink.

The only thing here that’s in any way personalised or targeted is the recipient’s name – ‘Hi, Martina’. That’s it. There’s no attempt to engage the reader in terms of their individual role/organisation or initiate a ‘conversation’ with them – just straight in with ‘Access to 250M contacts...’ This email feels like a lot like spam – one of the biggest email marketing mistakes you can make – and is likely to be treated accordingly.

If you don’t want to end up in the spam folder, don’t act like a spammer. On the other hand, if you give the impression that it’s a credible inquiry, speaking to the recipient’s particular company’s needs, they’ll be much more likely to give you the time of day.

3. Always, always, always do your homework




At first glance, this looks good, right? Personalised, targeting a specific business decision-maker, appealing to a business goal – growth. Except Barnaby isn’t the founder – he’s the Head of Creative. Which they can find out pretty easily via that LinkedIn profile they linked in the very same sentence. Or our website.

This was a good attempt at targeting and personalisation. But when those personalised details are completely (or even a little bit) wrong, it has the exact opposite effect to what was intended. So, here’s the lesson from this one: always do your homework. Or if you’re using details from a list of leads, make sure those details are correct – and if you aren’t sure, don’t take a gamble.

Our tips for winning email marketing

So, as we’ve covered, it’s easy to write an email. But it can be a lot trickier to write a good marketing email. To conclude, let’s look at some of the key points from the examples here well as some email marketing tips and tricks from our team.

  • Get your value across clearly. And show the recipient how it’s relevant to their specific role/organisation. Why is your offering a good thing for them? Why should they choose you instead of a competitor?
  • Personalise as much as you can so they don’t just feel like one of many people on a very long list. This will also help you with the first tip – targeting your messages/offering to the specific person you’re talking to.
  • Don’t be overly familiar if you don’t know the recipient. As our CEO Chris says, “You don’t get past my inbox just by pretending to know me.” Genuine and friendly is good. Trying to trick your audience definitely isn’t.
  • Think twice before starting with “I know you’re busy...” – it’s such a cliché. OK, you value the recipient’s time – that’s good. Demonstrate that – you don’t necessarily have to say it. Or maybe not in those exact words, anyway.
  • Proof-read everything before you click ‘send’. I’m sure you noticed a few typos in some of the examples we showed. Everyone makes mistakes, but they give the impression of a lack of diligence and professionalism. If you spot them first, your recipients won’t.

Well, that wraps it up. I hope you’ve found this article useful. And to all the senders featured in these email fails – no hard feelings. We just needed some real-life examples of email marketing mistakes for illustrative purposes. And if you’d like a little help with making sure you nail yours in future – drop us an email?

Want to start winning new customers and growing your existing business with better email marketing? Let’s talk. Get in touch with the team at Fifty Five and Five today.

Illustration intersecting paper-clips

How to write for email campaign success and actually get results

When it comes to email campaign success, starting from scratch can be daunting. It’s predicted that we will be sending and receiving upwards of 347 billion daily emails by 2022. With all this noise, how could your emails even be noticed – never mind opened?

But there is a way. It’s about being simple, engaging and consistent. We’re going to share some straight-forward steps you can use right now to bring your email campaigns to life and enjoy actual results—and good ones too.

Identify the goals for your email campaign 

The first step in this process is identifying exactly why email should be your preferred option. The clearer your goal, the easier it will be to measure progress and results once the campaign has been executed.  

For example, goals for your campaign could include persuading recipients to: 

  • Download an eBook 
  • Sign up to a webinar 
  • Buy a specific product or service 

As well as provoking actions like these, campaign goals could also include: 

  • Getting recipients interested in your offerings 
  • Raising brand awareness for your business 
  • Re-engaging or nurturing current subscribers  

Once your goal is established, you can get started on defining your audience.

Who’s reading these emails, anyway? 

Now, before diving into copy, you must first outline exactly who your emails will be seen by. If you’ve been doing email marketing for a while, you’ll no doubt already know who your audience is. But if you’re new to the scene, you’ll probably need to make a few educated guesses so you can tailor your content effectively.

Use Google Analytics

To do this, you can use Google Analytics to access data on demographics, interests, locations and so on. This will provide a snapshot of who your customers are and what they are interested in. 

The trick with successful emails is to make them personal. By segmenting your audience, it’s easier to send emails that at least feel personalised.

Curate effective emailfor your audience 

With your purpose and audience in mind, you’re all set to begin writingHere are a few simple pointers to keep in mind:  

  • Keep it short and sweet 

When taking into account the sheer volume of emails sent and received every day, it’s important that your copy is engaging. Avoid wafflekeep to the subject and add value 

  • Provide clear and obvious value 

If you only send promotional emails, your readers will likely lose interest. Keep them interested by outlining how your business or product can benefit themSeems too obvious but make use of bullet points and bold text so that the important parts of an email are easy to find.  

  • Stay relevant  

When writing your emails, always keep your audience in mind. What is it that they want and need? How can you address their pain points? Rather than focus on what you’re trying to sell, you should focus on what your readers need.  

  • Include a clear CTA 

What is the overall objective of your email? The call to action you include needs to be immediately obvious and move the recipient towards your goal. So, if you’re looking to encourage sign-ups for a free trial, your CTA might read ‘Sign up now!’  

  • Check, check...and check again 

Once the email is written get a second or third opinion, proofread and ensure you’ve ticked off every point in this list. When sending out an email to a large mailing list, you really don’t want to make any avoidable mistakes.

Add the finishing touches 

When it comes to selecting imagery for your emails, we’d recommend avoiding stock photos – or at least the most obvious and artificially-posed ones – as these can deter readersAdding a few interesting images can boost the click-through rate but be mindful of the file size – as images that are too big can trigger spam filters, sending your email to the junk folder. 

Your email campaign also provides a good opportunity to highlight your website and social media platforms. Add links where possible to drive people to your site. This shouldn’t distract from the overall objective of your email, but it certainly can’t hurt to include a few inbound links where relevant.

Create your email template  

Fortunately, there are plenty of email providers (we use Mailchimp) that will allow you to set up and schedule emails with no need for coding.  

A crucial consideration here is responsive design. This ensures that your email looks great on every device and will improve your click-through rate (CTR). If you’re using an automated email platform then this will be taken care of for you. If not, there are lots of tips out there for responsive design best practices!

Set up tracking devices  

Before sending your emails out into the world, you’ll need to track them. This is the best way to quantify the success of your campaigns, and it can be executed with relative ease by using a tracking pixel.  

The gist of it is that a tracking pixel is added right before the closing body tag of the email. Then, when this image is loaded by the reader, the image request is logged by the server. This information is then collected by your chosen analytics service and you can access statistics on click-through rates, open rates and more.

Testing! Testing! 123 

With all of the above in place, you’re ready to test your email. This should involve sending it out to multiple email accounts (accessed from a variety of devices) so that you can ensure everything looks as you want it to. Different email providers tend to display emails differently, so you need to check that yours works across the board.  

This stage is vital as it gives you the chance to iron out any creases before your email is sent. Any issues that you spot should be addressed, and the testing process repeated.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to push the button 

Sending mid-morning during working day seems effective in terms of open rates. To find your optimal time, it’s best to trial a few different times and analyse which gets the highest engagement.

Let the data do the talking 

Hopefully, you will gain lots of useful insights from the data your campaign accumulates. Understanding this data is vital to understand what works and identify areas for improvement. We suggest looking at:   

  • The success of your CTA – does it need tweaking next time? 
  • How many readers are using mobile devices? If you have lots of mobile users, you’ll want to focus on mobile-friendly design. 
  • Who is least engaged with your emails? You can segment these contacts out and then try to retarget them with tailored content in the future.

Pick a partner to do all the grafting for you 

We hope this article has provided helpful insights to get your email campaigns off the ground and produce fantastic results. However, if you don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to achieve this by yourself, we have heaps of email marketing experience and would love to lend a helping hand.

If you’d like further help with email marketing, get in touch with a member of our team today. You can also check out our website for more information. 

How to choose the right email marketing service providers

  • What are the challenges of email marketing in 2019?
  • What to look for when choosing an email marketing service provider
  • Who are the leading email marketing service providers?

In 2019, email marketing remains a fundamental part of a successful digital or inbound marketing strategy. No other marketing strategy allows you to speak so directly to your customers. But like any inbound marketing strategy, it requires the right tools to get started. This is where email marketing service providers come in.

On the face of it, email service providers all essentially do the same thing – allowing you to send out emails in bulk to all, or parts of, your marketing list. In truth, the reality is more complicated – and there’s a significant variation in capabilities depending on the provider you choose. It’s important, therefore, to get the right trade–off between price and functionality. To help you make this decision, this blog weighs up the pros and cons of four well-known email marketing service providers.

The best email marketing service providers in 2019

In the early days of inbound marketing, email campaigns usually took a ‘spray and pray’ approach; meaning emails were sent out to the largest possible audience of contacts. This was based on an almost folklore-like formula that, on average, about 25% of emails would be opened, and somewhere between 10 and 20% would result in click-throughs. Logic therefore dictated that the more emails sent out, the higher number of click–throughs, and thus leads would be generated.

Regardless of how effective that strategy was, it’s certainly not the way things are done in 2019. Since then, several factors have forced email marketers to change tack. From shopping to online streaming, we increasingly live in a world governed by personalisation. For better or for worse, today’s customers expect their digital experience to be closely tailored to their tastes and preferences. Emails that broadly appeal to a large demographic have never been less effective.

If email marketing by bulk was already on its way out by 2018, then the implementation of the GDPR in May that year marked its final days. The regulation forced companies selling in and to the European Union to delete all contacts that hadn’t given express opt-in consent. By definition, the bulk approach to email marketing relied on large mailing lists, which virtually overnight had been deleted. But the upside of such a drastic change was that the resulting marketing lists, though much smaller, were more targeted, focused and higher quality.

Today, to appeal to these vastly different marketing lists, content must be eye-catching and most importantly, personalised.

In 2019, the best email marketing service providers take these changing requirements into account. When choosing the right provider for your email marketing campaign, there are a number of important factors to consider:

Audience segmentation options

Users should be able to break down their email marketing list into subgroups, by product usage, demographics, and historical interaction with the company. This allows them to better target emails towards focused demographics.

Simple user interface with easy functionality

Creating an effective, eye-catching email shouldn’t be time-consuming – and it shouldn’t take a professional designer to effectively manage it. Marketers looking to save money should look towards simple tools that create professional looking emails using simple drag–and–drop functionality.

Third-party integration

To target email contacts effectively, email marketing requires high-quality data. Larger organisations will, therefore, require a tool that integrates with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, most notably Salesforce, so they can easily take advantage of existing customer data.

Automatic category updates

Effective marketing lists should adapt to changing circumstances. Categories should be able to change automatically if users perform a certain action, like clicking a link or downloading a content resource. Users that have already opened emails should be sent different kinds of emails to those who haven’t.

Taking these factors into account, here’s a look through the pros and cons of some of the most well-known email marketing service providers.

1. Mailchimp

Founded in 2001, Mailchimp has remained one of the most popular email marketing platforms virtually since its inception. For many people, this is the first and only port of call. Its popularity in the market is largely thanks to its simple user interface that allows users to easily build and edit professional looking email templates. In particular, it’s known for its simple drag–and–drop functionality. As well as this, it’s a comparatively cost-effective option, making it a popular choice for marketers or organisations with smaller budgets.

Mailchimp also performs respectably in other categories, such as strong integrations with third party platforms. These include Salesforce, Typeform, OptinMonster, and most importantly, Google Analytics.

Where audience segmentation is concerned Mailchimp runs into difficulties and doesn’t compare as well with some lesser known alternatives. Segmentation is possible but is generally achieved through a process of manual tagging, which can be time consuming. It doesn’t support functionality for automatically editing categories based on user actions. Though this is possible it can be a long-winded manual process that requires plenty of maintenance over time.

Mailchimp pros and cons


  • Easy to use
  • Strong integration capabilities
  • Most cost–effective option


  • Limited email segmentation functionality
  • Difficult to achieve bulk dispatches
  • No user category automation

2. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is a more specialised email marketing tool than many, with a specific focus on automation. ActiveCampaign’s focus is enabling you to set parameters that will divert emails to specific people, based on a wide range of factors. Audience segmentation is naturally a winning feature of the platform; users can easily curate a customised user journey, adding categories that change and adapt depending on what actions the contact has previously taken.

The automation tool is designed using an easy–to–use flow diagram that establishes clear parameters for which emails a user should receive. Actions such as ‘new order placed’ and ‘customer abandons cart’ are easy to follow up with the relevant email template. It also comes with a range of email process templates that make it easy for users to get started.

The main place where ActiveCampaign runs into difficulties, however, is when we consider integrations. The software doesn’t natively integrate with any third party tools, meaning users have to go out of their way if they want the platform to interact with Salesforce, Typeform, OptinMonster and others. Though integrations are possible, they require going through alternative applications or tools to combine capabilities, which can be both difficult and time-consuming.

Active Campaign pros and cons


  • Intuitive interface that makes automated flows simple
  • High automation potential
  • Impressive resources and customer support


  • No native integrations
  • Email template builder could be easier to use

3. Drip

Drip defines itself as an ECRM, or ecommerce customer relationship manager, sitting about halfway between a traditional CRM and an ecommerce platform. On Drip, email marketing is one feature within a wider package of capabilities that aim to integrate the whole spectrum of customer relationship management tools into one place. However, email marketing, with a focus on automation, remains an important part of the platform.


By its nature, combining ecommerce, CRM and marketing automation lends Drip to a specific type of business – larger retail businesses with a need for marketing automation. Within its niche it works well, but it’s more expensive than some of its competitors, and its email automation capabilities aren’t as seamless as they could be. One frustration is that email automation flows can’t be edited after they’re published, which makes it difficult to tweak and improve automation as your business scales.

Because of its particular qualities, Drip isn’t suited to everyone. If your business requires an all-inclusive integration of customer relationship platforms, you’ll find in Drip a solution uniquely tailored to your needs. If you’re looking for is an email service provider without the bells and whistles, however, you’re probably better off considering the alternatives on this list.

Drip pros and cons


  • Impressive native integration capabilities
  • Unique combination of ecommerce, CRM and email marketing services
  • Includes capabilities for nurturing and managing leads


  • Workflow automation could be better
  • A more expensive tool than some
  • Published automation flows can’t be edited

4. Hubspot

Like Mailchimp, HubSpot is one of the biggest names in the digital marketing sphere – though not just as an email service provider. They offer ‘a full stack of software’, include marketing, sales and customer service tools. One of their most well-known offerings is the HubSpot CRM – a completely free tool with a fair offering of CRM capabilities.

To get the email marketing capabilities, however, you’ll have to go for the marketing hub software. Compared to Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign it can actually be quite expensive because it combines email marketing with a variety of other digital marketing tools and capabilities. The clear benefit from an email marketing perspective is the ability to integrate its capabilities within your wider digital strategy. It also integrates well with tools like Salesforce, Typeform or MailChimp.

The platform is easy to use, and designing emails is simple for non-professionals to get started with. Automation potential is available, but the tools aren’t quite as sophisticated as competitors on this list, like Drip and ActiveCampaign. For email marketing alone, HubSpot probably isn’t the best value choice on this list. But if you’re looking for something that can support you at every stage of your digital and inbound strategy – it’s certainly a good place to start.

HubSpot pros and cons


  • Strong insights into your audience
  • Potential to align all inbound marketing on a single platform
  • Includes an impressive social media management tool


  • An expensive choice
  • A more expensive tool than others
  • List management and email automation functionalities could be better

Which email marketing service provider is right for me?

The features and benefits of each of these email service providers mean that there’s no single platform that stands out from the crowd. Different organisations will have different requirements from their email strategies. Choosing the best provider will require careful consideration of the offerings and capabilities available, the price and the individual requirements of your organisation. Getting this right is the key to creating a successful email marketing strategy.

Alternatively, the email marketing experts here at Fifty Five and Five can design and maintain a specialist email marketing campaign tailored perfectly to the requirements of your company. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

Looking to improve your marketing?

We can help! Talk to us about your business and the specific barriers you come up against when trying to generate leads.

Get in touch

how to use mailchimp for email marketing

Free eBook: Four MailChimp Analytics Features

Our recent blog series covered the most important areas of email marketing your organisation needs to implement – writing great copy, good subject lines, smart design and setting up MailChimp. This free eBook will provide the final step in your successful email marketing campaign: Mailchimp analytics.

a/b testing mailchimp

What's the value of A/B testing in Mailchimp?

  • Final post in our series on email marketing campaigns
  • Learn what A/B testing is
  • How to set up A/B testing in MailChimp

Welcome to the fourth and final post in our email marketing series. So far, we’ve discussed how to set up your email marketing campaign, how to create the best content to put in your emails and how to design them to make them visually appealing. Today, we’re focusing on the distribution of your email campaigns and how you can give them the best possible chance of being opened, read, and clicked on by your audience through A/B testing in Mailchimp.

What is email A/B testing?

A/B testing is the process of creating two similar, but not identical, emails to compare which performs better. A/B testing involves analysing the open and click rates of your email version “A” and version “B” to see which content, subject line, design style, or send time had a greater impact. A/B testing, also known as ‘split testing’, allows you to find the best version of your email before you send it to your entire audience. You test on a small sample size (sending version ”A” to one half of the sample, and version “B” to the rest), and the better performing email then gets sent to the remaining recipients to give you the best chances of engagement.

The value of A/B testing

Think about the number of emails you receive each day. How many of those do you open? And of that number, how many do you actually read through to the end?

We all know from experience just how hard it is for an email to capture our attention. So, when you’re writing marketing emails yourself, it’s important to give them the best chance of being opened. And this is the value of A/B testing.

A/B testing lets you experiment with new and interesting email content to try and stand out from the crowd and arrest your audience’s attention. Take your email subject lines, for example. 33% of recipients will open emails based solely on the subject line (more than, say, sender). A/B testing can increase your email open rates by helping you see how people responded to two different subject lines, allowing you to choose the subject line that performed best.

Variables for A/B testing emails

There are many factors that you can A/B test to help decide the most appropriate strategy for your next email blast:

  • What day or time should you send your email?
  • What subject lines are the most effective?
  • What name should you use in the “From” field?
  • Should you use merge tags?
  • Will certain templates, content or calls-to-action affect engagement?

A/B testing can help you answer these questions.

A/B testing in MailChimp tutorial

We have A/B tested our own emails at Fifty Five and Five in our email marketing tool of choice, MailChimp. It is one of the leading platforms for email automation, helping its users send over 246 billion emails, generating 66.5 billion opens and almost 5 billion clicks last year. MailChimp has a number of great features which support A/B testing.

In June 2017, we wanted to experiment to discover how we could improve the open rate of our monthly newsletter, so we carried out an A/B test (see image below). We began by asking ourselves certain questions:

  • What makes a great subject line?
  • Should we send to a smaller audience if they’re more likely to be interested in the content?
  • Does the design of our emails match our brand?

After analysing our open and click rates for older campaigns, we began A/B testing two different styles of layout. One was our original design with multiple stories, and one was a new layout with one longer, more detailed story. We used A/B testing to see which style performed better.

a/b testing mailchimp

The new email layout performed better, which we have since implemented into our monthly newsletter and MAYA newsletter.

How to set up A/B testing in MailChimp

Let’s look at how you can set up A/B testing for your next email campaign in MailChimp.

  1. First, select a new campaign, and select ‘A/B Test’.
  2. Choose the list you want to send to, and decide whether to send to the entirety of that list or a segment.
  3. Decide on the variable you want to A/B test: Subject line, Sender name, Content or Send time.
  4. Select the combinations you wish to test, the percentage of your recipients to send the test to, and the metric for determining the winning email.

a/b testing mailchimp

After the allotted time, MailChimp will automatically inform you of the winning campaign and schedule it to send. Choosing ‘manual selection’ will let you review the data yourself and decide which campaign to send. By viewing your campaign report, you can compare the engagement for your combinations, as well as see more detailed reports for each.

a/b testing mailchimp

It’s as easy as A/B, see?

As great as A/B testing is, it’s not the silver bullet for your email campaigns. It can tell you which of your email variants have received better engagement—a good indication of the more popular option. It can advise you on which might be the best subject line, content or design, but you still need to do the heavy lifting of creating the emails themselves.

That said, A/B testing can help you keep your emails feeling fresh. And that should naturally transfer over to your readers, helping pique their interest and boost your open and click rates.

Fifty Five and Five run killer marketing campaigns, managing them from start to finish. We identify the target audience, create dedicated content for them and create compelling design that matches company branding. We carry out A/B testing, as well as other analytical features to give emails the best chance of being opened and engaged with.

Want to improve your email marketing? For more information on A/B testing or any other element of email marketing, get in touch with us today.

email newsletter design

Your bulletproof email newsletter design guide

  • Part three in our four-part series on email marketing campaigns
  • How to design an appealing email newsletter
  • Information hierarchy, mobile-first and choosing the right colours

Today, we are continuing our series on creating the best version of an email marketing campaign for your business.

We recently looked at filling your emails with the best content; today’s focus is on the importance of how your newsletter looks and the part design plays in driving leads. This best practice guide will help you put in place some great design fundamentals that will go a long way to making sure your email newsletter design complements your company’s overall aesthetic.

Why does email newsletter design matter?

As we discussed in our previous article, the content of your email and marketing in general is something to take very seriously as a company and brand. With the array of different ways current and potential customers can engage with you, your content has more opportunity to ‘speak’ than ever. But how your organisation looks has a profound effect on how your message is perceived, too. Countless studies indicate that as a species we process visual data better and faster than we do from text alone. So it could be argued that email newsletter design is the most important element of your email campaigns.

Visual examples best explain the reasoning behind the importance of email newsletter design. The following are two examples of email marketing. One is of a high standard and the other… not so much. You can decide for yourself which is which:




bad email newsletter design example






The importance of first impressions

Look at the style of the example newsletter A) above. Even if the copy was polished and relevant to you, it probably wouldn’t make much of an impact. Did you know it only takes 1/10th of a second to form a first impression about a person? Well, the same theory applies to your organisation’s marketing. Your direct marketing, such as a newsletter and other email campaigns, gives a lasting impression of what your business is like. The way your email looks is crucial to making that good first impression. By making the design as pleasing an experience as possible you can ensure that your reader’s experience of your brand will be a positive one.

So, what can you do to make sure your design will let all the other great aspects of your email marketing shine? By following our tips below, you can make sure your message is delivered in the right way.

What to include in email design

Put your important information first

We’ve seen a lot of direct mail and newsletters that wait right until the bottom of the message before presenting their call to action (CTA). We think it’s better to get the most important information of your email up front so it is seen and can immediately be acted upon. Don’t be afraid to make your call to action the first thing your audience sees. But remember that you will also want to include a CTA further down the page where the reader will see it at the right time (surrounded by information relevant to their decision). Getting them down the page is a matter of persuasive copy and effective design.

email newsletter designSource

Adopt a mobile-first mindset

It’s 2017, and email marketers cannot afford to ignore the power of smartphones and tablets. Research in 2015 about email on mobile devices found that over a quarter of all B2B emails were opened on a mobile device. If your email isn’t responsive, you can expect your open rates will suffer. Badly.

Design around the subject matter

What are you trying to say and is your design aiding or hindering your message? Your message need to come first and, based on what it is, will inform how it’s visually represented.

Colour scheme

We experience the world in colour and reactions can be predicted based on different colours. Your company likely has colour codes in their brand guidelines. Your email colour palette should match. Alternatively, you could go for colours that match up with any images you want to include.

Use white space & line breaks

Boost your design clarity by using white space to contrast with more text-heavy parts of your design.


No design department?

If you are reading this post, sweating about how you’re going to free up some funds for a designer in your marketing team, fear not. There are plenty of options when it comes to third-party tools and solutions that enable you to build a great email campaign yourself and in good time too. Tools like MailChimp, for example, include plenty of ready-made templates to choose from as well as a campaign builder that uses a simple drag and drop design. Your designs are automatically fully responsive, and you can see what they look like on a mobile device with the click of a button. While trying to incorporate all these design tips and best practice can seem daunting, the right email builder can make the design aspect of the email easier, so you can focus all your efforts on making your content convert.

Find out more

When it comes to email marketing, your success is all in the numbers: the open, click-through and subscription rates. And it takes more than simply good design to make these numbers grow and pay dividends.


At Fifty Five and Five, our in-house design team work hand in hand with our content copywriters to create email campaigns that stand out from both a visual and copy writing perspective. If you’d like to see how we do it, sign up to our monthly newsletter or get in touch with us today.

Master Email Copywriting

Master email copywriting with these 5 quick tips

  • Part two in our four part series on email marketing campaigns
  • Learn how to master email copywriting
  • Finding the right tone, creating an engaging subject line and writing your call-to-action

Welcome to the second post in our email marketing series, where we’re going to help you master your email copywriting. Before we get started, you should make sure you know the difference between email campaigns and monthly newsletters; make sure you’ve established your goals and built up your email subscriber list.

If you don’t know how to do those yet, you should read the first post in our series before you go any further! Think of this post as an email copywriting master class—showing you what content to include in your emails and teaching you how to write it well.

Are emails harder to open than ever?

Thanks to stiff competition and declining audience attention spans, it’s more difficult than ever to get your emails read, let alone acted on. So, what sets apart those emails that do engage with their audience? Design is playing an increasingly large part in the success of email open rates, helping create visually appealing and enticing emails. But if your content isn’t up to scratch, then your click rates are going to remain low. And your click rate is arguably more important than open rates when it comes to generating leads.

So how can you make sure your content is as good as it can be? Mastering email copywriting is no small task, but we’ve put together some best practice advice on how you can fill your emails with engaging, appealing and persuasive copy to get your readers taking action on the things you say.

Here are five things you should focus on when it comes to mastering email copywriting.

1. Find the right tone

Emails can be ‘chatty’, so you can let your brand’s personality out a little more compared to blogs or longer-form content. Using merge tags—that identifies a recipient’s email to address them by name—and writing in the second person (using personal pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’) are good ways to orient the language towards the audience, not the author. As spam is more prevalent than ever, make sure you also use a familiar sender name—this helps the reader connect with you before they’ve opened the email.

2. Create engaging subject lines

The best subject lines arrest the reader’s attention. Keeping them short and using actionable language are the best ways to do this. You need to strike a balance between telling them why they should open the email without giving away exactly what’s inside. Here are some typical angles you should aim to include in your subject lines:

  • Create a sense of exclusivity/urgency or personality
  • Quote statistics, metrics or testimonials
  • Pose a compelling question
  • Invoke the mind’s eye
  • Use puns or humour

3. Stick to the three C's

When you are considering your content approach, remember the three C’s above all else: clear, consistent and concise.

It’s easy to get distracted by trying to be witty in order to stand out, but clarity should always come first; humour or entertainment second. The body of your email should cater more towards information than persuasion—leave the latter for your subject lines and headers when you’re trying to arrest the reader’s attention. Once they’ve opened the email, you need to be clear and to the point, making it as easy as possible to understand.

Especially in emails, you should stick to short sentences and paragraphs. Keeping your message on-point is key to writing concise email copy. MailChimp allows for several different styles of content layout, so the length of your content will likely vary depending on the layout. Here’s the kind of layout and text length we stick to at Fifty Five and Five:

email copywriting tips

You also need to be consistent in your subject line and email body. When readers don't get what they're promised in the subject line, click-through rates plummet.

4. What goes into email copywriting

So, you know the type of language to use; what are you going to talk about? Obviously, this varies based on the company. Here are some general goals or aims you could offer your audience:

  • Advice/Guidance
  • Interest/Opinion
  • News
  • Interviews

Many companies’ emails only explain the features of new products or services they are offering, when they should be explaining the benefit. Instead of announcing a new edition of your tool, why don’t you talk about what it can do for the user? What problems can it solve? Understanding the problems and interests of your email recipients is the key to creating emails that will appeal to them.

Another pro-tip: more email is read on mobile than on desktops, and you need to accommodate for this. Make sure your email looks great on any device or browser. Keep the content concise and consistent for every device. MailChimp lets you preview how your campaign will look on desktop, web browser and mobile.

5. A compelling call-to-action

Just like your web copy and blogs, your emails should have calls to action, too, and they should be as clear as possible. People tend to scan emails more than any other kind of content. And call-to-actions will often come at the bottom of the email, where some recipients won’t even get to. That’s why in HTML emails it’s a good idea to include a button prominently displayed near the top of the email body. In fact, buttons are great calls to action across your emails in general—we use them all the time in our own emails.

email copywriting tipsEmail copywriting, accomplished

You need a balance of all the above to stand out from the crowd and prove your value to your email subscribers. The content you write is the best way to do that; empathise with your audience’s concerns and problems, get them asking questions, and show how you can help them. Email can (and should) be a very personal method of communication. If you get that personality across to your audience, they’ll be more likely to want to get to know you and trust you.

Visual elements can accentuate your content to bring it off the page. Videos, images, and GIFs have all become extremely effective devices for arresting your audience’s attention, and infographics have become immensely popular in recent years too within email campaigns. But more on that next time!


Make sure you tune in for the next post in our email marketing series on the role of design. If you want more information on creating the best content for your email campaigns or monthly newsletters, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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Mailchimp Tutorial: How to Use MailChimp for Email Marketing

Mailchimp Tutorial: How to use MailChimp for email marketing

  • Part one in our four part series on email marketing campaigns
  • Our introductory MailChimp tutorial 
  • Get set with our tips for setting up your email campaigns

From generating leads to updating your customers and business partners on the health and direction of your organisation, email marketing is a vital part of your wider digital marketing strategy. However, for many organisations, email marketing campaigns can be disappointing. But don’t worry, help is at hand in the form of our MailChimp tutorial series to help you design the best, conversion-creating emails that recipients will open, act on, and even forward to their colleagues.

Over the next few weeks, we will cover the most important aspects of what makes a good email marketing campaign, from writing to design and distribution. All with the aim of helping you get better results to continue evolving your marketing efforts.

Email marketing is an extremely powerful way of connecting with people. Why? About 2.8 billion people use email every day and that number continues to rise. There are  about 196 billion emails sent daily and about 109 billion of those are business emails. In spite of (or perhaps due to) all this traffic, a large proportion of email marketing campaigns are unsuccessful. Emails don't get read and have little impact and lead to few or no conversions. This series will look at what you should be doing to make your email campaigns a success, as well as common mistakes to avoid. Let's get started!

The best-laid schemes

When we talk to our clients, we often hear that their email marketing campaigns started off with great intentions. However, even when they are ‘doing everything right’, the results are often lacklustre and eventually, the motivation to consistently put the effort into creating fresh content diminishes and campaigns are consigned to the scrapheap.

  • Poor open rates
  • Low click-through rate
  • A sense that email marketing doesn’t work or isn’t innovative enough
  • Lack of analysis
  • Boring design
  • Unexciting content or copy

However, with the right setup, a neat design, some engaging copy, and smart bench-marking and analysis, you can transform your email marketing into the pillar of your marketing strategy that it should be.

Email campaign or monthly newsletter?

Often, when you mention email marketing, people immediately think of their company’s monthly newsletter. It seems there is a misconception that email campaigns and newsletters are the same things. The aim of newsletters is to engage your subscribers with quality free content and very little sales promotion that is sent out on a regular basis (usually once per month). The purpose is to grow your subscriber list.

Email marketing campaigns, on the other hand, are more transactional. The purpose of email marketing is to drive sales – by promoting sales promotions within the email itself, or by asking people to visit your website to read or view a piece of content (but with the ultimate goal still being to sell something). Your email content should be created with the intention of converting your lead into a new customer.

Our three step MailChimp tutorial for SETTING UP a successful email marketing campaign

Step 1: Choosing the right tools

You should have no excuse when it comes to building out a successful email campaign thanks to the proliferation of mass-email design tools that make creating a great email to market to your audience pretty easy. MailChimp, for example, allows you to set up and automatically populate your mailing list, create a newsletter or send an automated email to your target audience simply and effectively. That is why we choose to build our campaigns with this solution.

Step 2: Establishing your goals with the right template 

Just because emails are easy to create doesn’t mean they will get you the right results. Along with your emails, you also need to create a plan. By setting goals, you are able to benchmark the success of your email campaigns and decide if your emails are having the desired effect.

When generating content, it’s very important to understand who the content is for. Who are you aiming your email at? Is this an email to update current customers on some relevant company information, or are you telling them about a new report you've just published? Whatever the purpose, knowing who the target audience is will inform the design and content. Also, knowing what action you want your target audience to take is another way of informing the content of your campaign.

Speaking of content, having a clear message is also essential to achieving your goals. If you are inconsistent here, how can you expect your target audience to click where you want them to click? A simple and clear message is best for hitting your targets.

In MailChimp you can: split your mailing list up any way you want, so that you can target your audience in the most specific way possible. The platform also gives you access to tons of templates so choosing the one that fits your style (or the style of that campaign) is simple and quick. You can concentrate on creating great content (more on that below) and analyse the results of your campaigns with detailed stats on open rates and click rates, etc. All of which will help you monitor/adjust your goals. The example below shows the range of templates that you can drive your email campaign with.

Mailchimp Tutorial: How to Use MailChimp for Email Marketing

Step 3: Building up your email subscriber list

You need to build your email list because your current contacts move jobs, their email addresses change, they unsubscribe. This means you need to continuously add new contacts to keep the numbers going in the right direction. How can you do this without buying dodgy email lists? Importing from lists of known contacts is best practice here. Most businesses already have a ready-made database that exists in the organisation. Import your CRM, Outlook address book, your sales contacts, etc. into your mailing list and immediately you have a large number of contacts who are already engaged in what your company is doing.

Provide a valuable incentive with a simple way for people to subscribe

Another way of growing your list is to provide value to prospective subscribers and make it as simple as possible to sign up. Value here is defined as content that is worth something to your target audience:

Valuable incentive = compelling content/important news/discounts/etc.

Simple way to subscribe = header on website/slider/pop-up/etc.

In MailChimp you can: import contacts from other areas of your business with a couple of clicks. From there, you can create customised and visually appealing templates easily in their campaign builder. This makes it much easier to concentrate on generating that remarkable and valuable content that will help ensure you get higher open rates and a higher number of new contacts from referrals.

Mailchimp Tutorial: How to Use MailChimp for Email Marketing

Sharpen your tools

Email marketing is important and should be a primary weapon in your marketing arsenal. Now you have an overview of what setting up a campaign entails, you can put in place a solid foundation.

Look out for the next article in our series which will cover the art of writing engaging copy to inform, persuade and delight your target audience – copy that will ensure better open rate percentages, downloads, click-through rates and conversion from lead to a sale.

In the second post of the series, we'll be sharing the secret sauce to writing the perfect email copy - keep up with our latest posts by following us on Twitter.

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