How to Create High-Performing Email Marketing Campaigns

Even with so many new marketing channels, emails are still effective. Want to learn how to create the best-performing email marketing campaigns? We can help!

Marketing design
March 10, 2023

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Want to learn how to create an email marketing campaign with high open rates and conversions? We can help! Here are 8 golden tips for creating high-performing email marketing campaigns.

Digital marketing has grown rapidly in a relatively short time. With new trends and channels emerging practically daily, it can be difficult to decide which marketing channels are the most useful to your business.

But there is one marketing channel absolutely no business can do without: email marketing.

You don’t believe us? Numbers don’t lie:

  • There are 4 billion daily email users, and the number is expected to rise to 4.6 billion by 2025.
  • By the end of 2023, the revenue of email marketing campaigns is expected to reach $11 billion.
  • 50% of people buy from marketing emails at least once a month.
  • According to 2019 DMA research, for each dollar invested in an email campaign, you can expect a return on investment of 42 dollars.
  • 81% of SMBs rely on emails as their primary acquisition channel.

So, needless to say, an email marketing strategy is valuable for your company, and can increase your sales and improve the relationship you have with your customers. Here is how to create an email marketing campaign with the best performance!


Follow the best practices of email design

What makes a good email marketing campaign? Above all else, an email should be well-structured, straightforward and catchy.

A person has a smaller attention span than a goldfish nowadays: only 8 seconds are enough for us humans to lose interest in what we see. That means that when a person sees a promotional or transactional email in their inbox, they’ll ignore it if the subject line and preheader don’t look interesting or informative.

So, how can you make people think that opening your email will help them in some way? Here are some steps to try.

Use a familiar sender name

Although it is polite to use at least the first name of the sender in an email, it is a better recipe for success if you include your company’s name in the “From” name. For example, John Smith could be anyone, but John from ManyPixels will ring some bells. In the meantime, it's critical to use a DMARC checker tool to ensure you send all emails from the name of your domain.

That way, you can make sure the contacts in your email list don’t ignore the email thinking it is spam, or a random person trying to contact them.

mike from manypixels.png

Write a catchy and descriptive subject line

A witty, funny, or simply informative subject line will help your open rates greatly. Depending on the type of email, you can assess the situation and use a tone of voice that suits it well.

Still, using a catchy subject line, or one that immediately informs the reader of what the email is about will encourage them to open the email, and hence improve the success of your campaign.

Although each business is unique, looking at statistics can help. Here are a few interesting finds from a recent Zippia research:

  • Having the word “video” in the subject line increases open rates by 7% to 13%
  • Having the word “free” in the subject line can increase open rates by 10%.
  • 56% of brands that have emojis in their subject line have higher open rates.
  • Emotional content is 94% more effective than rational content.
  • 71% of marketers use subject lines with a maximum of 60 characters.

In other words, the most successful email marketing campaigns utilize subject lines that are personal, casual, and offer value to the reader (whether in form of content, gifts, promotions, or the prospect of an emotional experience).

These awesome marketing emails utilize several of the strategies we’ve mentioned. You can see how easy it is to adapt them to virtually any business or brand you can think of!

Write an attention-grabbing preheader

The preheader of your email should either complement the subject line or add extra information about the contents of the message. So it should work together with the subject line.

It is also important to know that the preheader shouldn't be too long, because it will be clipped in the inbox view (and especially with mobile devices). So, you should aim to keep your preheader around 30 to 80 characters.

In case of a dilemma about whether or not you should use a long preheader or not, it is better to leave that field empty, than to add an inconclusive and confusing one that will be clipped in half.

Design a beautiful email banner

Many people think that the best email marketing campaigns are purely focused on the copy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

An email banner might not help you with the open rates, but it certainly does with the read-through rates. And when it comes to conversions it’s the read-through rates that count.

A well-designed banner that supports the email copy and adds a preview to the product you are marketing will be an additional element that informs and is also ornamental. So it will make the whole email look more professional and good-looking.

You can either opt for something informative, such as a custom graphic with the summary of the email CTA (e.g. a discount coupon code); or, you can use a striking image or graphic that’s simply meant to grab attention and keep the readers engaged.

Keep the body text simple

As much as you might want to add a lot of text in your email campaign and inform the readers about everything that’s going on in your company, you need to focus on just one thing. Are you promoting a new product? Write about that. Do you have a flash sale? Talk to them about all the possibilities. Is it just a newsletter? Write a few sentences about the blog posts you are including and let the rest speak for itself.

An oversaturated and confusing email won’t bring you a good result, so make sure your email copy is optimized and well-structured. You can search for email templates to get an idea of a good structure.

Use the right CTA button

The right CTA button is a must for email marketing campaigns. All the work you’ve done until that point (segmenting your audience, designing the email, and writing the copy) will hopefully ensure readers are ready to click on your CTA button. So, naturally, the design of this all-important element should be a priority.

Make sure it is the right size and color, and that the font is noticeably different from the body text, but not too far from the rest of the email’s look. Take some time to think about the right placement too. Should it be flat, rounded, three dimensional? Base these decisions on your brand image, art direction, and basic psychology (it should be noticeable, first and foremost).

Finally, take some time to decide on the best call to action. “Buy now” and “Learn more” are very repetitive and uninspiring after a while, and your copy could probably use more creativity.

Using A/B testing (more on that later) is a great way to figure out which CTA button performs best.

Optimize for mobile devices

According to 99Firms, 42% of all emails in 2019 were read on mobile devices. This data is showing that your email campaigns should definitely be optimized for mobile: email banners, headings and buttons should look as good on your cell as they do on a laptop.

So, unless you don’t want to risk more than 40% of your readers missing the point because they need to zoom out or rotate their phone to read your email, make sure you optimize them.

Find inspiration in successful email marketing campaigns

It is both a blessing and a curse that there are plenty of amazing examples of marketing on the internet. On one hand, sometimes you feel like you will never be able to top some ideas, but on the other, you can learn from them. After all, in a news cycle as close as the one we have these days, people will quickly forget everything they’ve read.

So, we’re not saying steal ideas and copy someone else’s campaign, but do research and see what worked well. Compare your brainstormed ideas with existing campaigns, and make sure you check what your competitors are doing.

There are also plenty of libraries on the internet where you can find really good emails. No joke, there’s even a website called Really Good Emails that stores great examples of both design and copywriting in emails.


Create an email design art direction

You might think that an art direction for your emails is a bit over the top, but it is simply going to make your email planning and designing easier in the future.

Selecting fonts, colors, banner design style, header size, and style, the shape, color, and positioning of buttons, and plenty of other small details (will you use illustrations, stock photos, icons, do you use bullet points, bold and italic text, etc.), will help you assure consistency and always have branded emails.

Or, if you have a general digital marketing design strategy and art direction, use the same rules you have set up for that.

Check the trends and data once in a while

As with all things online, email design and optimization evolve pretty quickly. So, it would be smart to check up on the latest trends in design, as well as what are the requirements of email automation tools and similar.

At the same time, you should regularly stay up to date with details such as:

  • Opening rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Return of investment
  • Usage of devices
  • Best time to send emails
  • Demographic data about your recipients

These findings will help you reiterate your campaigns and pivot in case something isn’t working well. They will also help you update and rework your ideal buyer personas if needed.

Segment your audience

If you’re wondering “what makes a good email marketing campaign”, there’s one thing to consider before all else: you must send your emails to the right people.

As you keep building your email marketing strategy, chances are that your contact list will keep growing. Therefore, it can be pretty easy to lose track of who your primary audience is for each email marketing campaign.

Segmenting your audience will help with targeting your email marketing better. Are you sending promotional emails? Send it to people who’re already interested in your service, or have purchased from you before. Looking to build awareness of your brand? Send engaging and informative email newsletters to engage people who may have forgotten they’re on your mailing list.

Make sure you stay safe from the Spam box

Very salesy terms, plenty of emojis and direct CTAs from the subject line can make your emails disappear in the Spam box.

Other things that can influence this include attached images and videos, unsafe links, large files and very long texts.

You can test if your email is optimized not to be considered spam by sending yourself or a colleague a test email. And make sure to check common spam trigger phrases and words, which are usually regularly updated year by year.

Use A/B testing

Testing isn’t just used for checking whether your emails look good, or land in the spam folder. You should also consider testing different variations of your emails to optimize delivery and performance.

The best email marketing campaigns are perfectly tailored to their intended audience. Fine-tuning the little things, such as the color of your email banner, and the wording of the CTA or subject line can really help your promotional email campaigns to perform better.

Use an email marketing software

If you want to create successful email marketing campaigns, there’s a lot of work you need to do yourself. But something that can tremendously help the process is using an appropriate email marketing tool.

There are dozens of fantastic email marketing platforms, some of which are quite inexpensive or even free to use. Depending on your needs, you may also opt to purchase a subscription for a comprehensive marketing automation tool, such as Hubspot, which allows you to keep track of all your marketing efforts in one place.

Here are just a few email automation tools you can check out:

  • Mailchimp
  • Zoho Campaigns
  • Drip
  • ConvertKit


The best email marketing campaigns are as much a matter of creativity as they are of preparation and research.

You can come up with the most exciting subject lines and eloquent email copy. But if you’re sending your emails to the wrong people, you can’t even hope for good open rates. Similarly, even if you have superb audience segmentation, boring wording, and design will hardly entice anyone to take action.

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.

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