The Inbound Growth Blog

The Inbound Growth Blog covers all topics relating to an integrated marketing strategy. We write about inbound marketing, social media, integrated marketing strategies and the sales process.

Take the Quiz: Does Your Email Marketing Suck?

New Call-to-action

Posted by John Beveridge on Jan 30, 2017 5:25:45 AM

Are you using email marketing to grow your business and provide an outstanding customer service experience? If you're not, you should be. Deloitte found that the average person checks their email 74 times per day. And 71% of buyers prefer email over direct mail for brand communications

But let's face it. Despite the fact that email is an effective marketing tool when used properly, most marketing emails suck. We're all busy and we all receive a lot of email. According to the Radicati Group, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day. Do you want to be the business that creates inbox anxiety in the people you're trying to sell to by sending spammy, non-relevant emails?

Does your email marketing suck? Answer the 5 questions below to find out.

Question 1: Are you sending unsolicited emails to purchased lists?

Come on, you know better than that, don't you? Remember that busy office worker that receives 121 emails per day? Do you think she wants to see your long-winded puff piece that talks about how great your company is without offering any value to her?

Sending unsolicited emails to purchased lists has several consequences, most all of them bad ones.

  1. If you're sending unsolicited emails to purchased lists, it won't be long before you're labeled as a spammer by email services. Don't worry about annoying that office worker, because she'll never see your email. It's trapped in her spam filter.
  2. Spammy unsolicited emails destroy your brand and reputation. You do great work for customers. You're business development people are professionals that invest time and resources in building your reputation with those people you want to influence. Do you want to be remembered as the company that sends the spammy emails?
  3. You're annoying the very people that you're trying to impress. Do you think that busy executive cares about your office in Berlin and how long you've been in business?  If by chance you avoid the spam filters and they read one of your emails, it will probably be the last one that they read. After seeing that you offer no value in your email communications, they will either unsubscribe or delete your emails before they read them. By the way, you are including unsubscribe options in your emails, right? If not, you're not compliant with CAN-SPAM legislation.

SCORING: If you answered no to this question, give yourself 1 point. If you answered yes, give yourself 0 points.

Question 2: Are your open and click rates in line with industry benchmarks?

The first question to ask is do you know what your open and click rates are?

  • Open rates are the number of people that open your emails divided by the number of emails sent. An open rate is generally an indication of how effective your subject line is.

  • Click rates are the number of people that click on a Call-To-Action or web link in your emails divided by the number of emails sent. Click rates are an indication of the effectiveness of your email communication. If your message is compelling, people will click on your links to get more information.

The average open rate for professional services businesses is 21.21% and the average click rate is 2.75%. You can find a benchmark listing of click and open rates by industry here.

If you're sending unsolicited emails to purchased lists, I doubt your open and click rates are anywhere near the benchmarks.

SCORING: If you answered yes to this question, give yourself 1 point. If you answered no, give yourself 0 points. If you don't know, deduct 1 point from your score.

Question 3: Are your emails optimized for mobile devices?

Here are a few stats to illustrate the importance of optimizing your emails for mobile devices.

So if your emails are not optimized for mobile devices, your email marketing probably sucks.

There are two components of optimizing your emails for mobile devices - the technical component and the content component.

The technical component of optimizing emails for mobile devices is largely based on using responsive email templates. Responsive email templates re-configure how the email is presented to the reader based on what type of device they're using to read the email. It also includes scaling images so that they are viewable on smaller screens. If people are squinting when they're trying to read your email on a mobile device, you've got a problem.

The content component of optimizing emails for mobile devices is structuring your message so that they can be read in their entirety on a smartphone screen. This means that your emails should be less than 300 words (preferably less than 200.) If you can't get your message across in 300 words, hire someone that can. Because if you don't, your email is going to be deleted before it's read.

SCORING: If you are using responsive email templates, give yourself 1 point. If you are writing your emails with mobile in mind, give yourself an additional 1 point. If you're doing neither, give yourself 0 points.

Question 4: Are you segmenting your lists for email marketing?

Segmenting your lists means dividing your lists by meaningful demographic factors like industry, geography, size of company and the role the recipient plays in the company.

When you have segmented lists, you can created targeted emails that resonate more directly with your audience. If you don't use segmentation, you run the risk of sending broad emails that resonate with no one. It's next to impossible to create a single email that resonates both with the CEO of a professional services firm and marketing director at a technology company. It's much more effective to create two emails targeted at each audience.

The statistics bear out the advantages of segmenting your email marketing. According to Marketo, email open rates are 30% higher for segmented emails.

SCORING: If you segment your email lists and create targeted emails for relevant segments, give yourself 1 point. If you're not, give yourself 0 points.

Question 5: Are you using personalization in your email marketing?

Personalization takes segmentation to the next level. In personalization, you personalize your subject lines and email copy to include things like the recipients name, the name of their company and other demographic data that personalizes the email.

"The open rate for emails with a personalized message was 17.6%, compared to 11.4% without personalization. (Source:"

Effective prospecting emails, although unsolicited, are highly personalized. Instead of sending out a spam-mail to thousands of people on a list you purchased, send 30 highly personalized emails to prospects you'd like to work with. Make each email helpful, relevant and tailored to the unique circumstances of the recipient and her company. At all times be respectful - remember, these are people you want to do business with. People don't do business with people who treat them disrespectfully.

SCORING: If you are using personalization in subject lines and email copy, give yourself 1 point. If you are sending out personalized prospecting emails, give yourself and additional 1 point. If you're doing neither, give yourself 0 points.

What's your score and what does it mean?

Add up your points from each of the 5 questions. The maximum score is 7 points. Here is the grading scale:

  • 5-7 points: You're a master email marketer and are well-positioned to grow your business and provide an exceptional customer experience with email marketing.

  • 3-4 points: You're doing pretty well. With a few adjustments to your strategy, you can be a master email marketer.

  • 0-2 points: There's no easy way to say it - your email marketing sucks. But by focusing on the 5 areas outlined above, you can change that.

Email marketing is still a highly effective marketing tactic. If you pay attention to the 5 areas of optimization detailed in this article, you will see email marketing success. Your mantra as an email marketer is to be helpful and respectful at all times.


Topics: Email Marketing

Download the Ultimate Lead Generation Handbook

Learn 30 tips and tricks to supercharge your lead generation.

Ultimate Lead Generation Handbook