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Is Email Marketing Still Effective?


With the shake up the world had last year with the GDPR changes, we were wondering how people were feeling about using email marketing in their marketing mix this year.

Many companies were so terrified of potential legal action and large fines that they decimated their entire email marketing databases. The results for many, a large negative impact to revenue.

The new legislation is a good one and while it’s been painful to implement for large and small businesses alike, it’s done…moving on.

So What Now For Email Marketing?

Has GDPR taken this profitable marketing channel and destroyed it?

If you think about it, even if your email database has shrunk significantly, the positive to focus on now is the ‘quality’ of your data.

It is because of GDPR that your email marketing subscribers are more engaged and actively requesting your emails. Before there was always a chance that they hadn’t even asked to receive them.

Now post GDPR, you are much more likely to see higher OR (open rates) and CTR (click through rates) from your emails. You may be sending lots less and so saving money there but getting a better return from a smaller database.

In our opinion, email marketing remains an effective communications tool and businesses should not be afraid to use it. Equally, businesses should not be so focussed on being compliant that the email sign up become a quasi legal declaration/agreement! Not sexy, fun or likely to get engagement.

How To Rebuild Your List

If you did decide to be safer than sorry and removed anyone who didn’t re-confirm, you possibly lost most of your list. Unfortunately, many companies left this until the month of the GDPR changes and users just became blind to these ‘please reconfirm’ emails.

Treat mobile traffic differently

Consider that a bigger majority of your users are now visiting the site on a mobile device. Bear in mind that Google will penalise your site if you are using those email sign up pop ups AKA ‘intrusive interstitials’ for your mobile traffic. If this is news to you (it went live globally in Jan 2017), it’s here for reference.

Sign up form options (mobile view)

Note, this pop up consideration is not an issue for desktop views, we are talking about mobile views here.

  • Design a Google friendly embedded form that you can use within your content. Keep it simple though, a nice call to action message i.e. ‘sign up for x’ name & email required that’s it.
  • Use a pop up, again keep it simple, but be aware of the screen coverage requirements and simple option to close the pop up.

Incentivise the sign up or not?


People will sign up for your emails if there is something of value there for them. This doesn’t always have to be a free gift, prize or discount though. If you are in the B2B sector, it could be that you will be making their job easier for example, they will be the judge of the value of your email content.

In retail, it can be worth offering an incentive for sign ups, it might be that your email subscribers receive special deals and offers that non subscribers don’t? If you do offer giveaways or prize draws, be sure to promote the winners on social (with their permission of course), to complete that social proof people look for.

How to promote your email sign up

This should be clearly accessible and linked to where appropriate, not just tucked away in the footer area of a website. In context sign up forms and Google compliant pop ups are great ways to grab sign ups from your web traffic.

You can also promote email sign ups in your ads, across social media platforms works well. This usually works best if it’s incentivised and as long as your privacy terms are clear and people are free to unsubscribe, this usually quite successful.

Your Email Marketing Content

Your email should be punchy, with clear calls to action. The objective is to drive people to your website. This is not the time to create an entire publication in an email, it will most likely be deleted.

Focus on the purpose. If your email is B2B and news related for example, go for a catchy subject line and news title (peak that interest), add an interesting image, a small amount of copy and a large (easy to click on a mobile size screen) CTA (call to action) button.

Use a colour to differentiate the button. Have some fun with the copy on the button but make it clear it’s a CTA. Some examples:

  • I’M IN

Retail emails

For retail emails, the same thought process applies, what is the purpose of this email? Is it a promotional offer? then focus on that first. You may want to add some additional offers or content at the bottom of the email but the focus is the top.  Think about the subject line of your email, what will peak their interest in the old inbox trawl.. what about ‘Happy Birthday Gorgeous’? you’d at least look right?

For the offer, you want a strong email title, striking on brand image, small amount of copy and a big CTA to drive them on. Some email programs will allow you to dynamically add discount codes into emails, brilliant! Make sure yours is big and bold and clear on the mobile screen. It will either be copied and pasted or clicked on.

You don’t need to cover every single T&C in your email, that can be detailed on the web page itself and just linked to from the email. Keep it simple and you’ll engage more.

CTA button ideas for retail emails:


Testing Testing

Can’t stress enough how important it is to test an email on different screen sizes and email programs. Yahoo for example, still minimises font size in emails and makes it difficult to read on a mobile. The program you are using should have the ability to test your email across platforms and email programs.

It does not hurt to have some test accounts set up across all the major email programs as well. Look at your email list stats and it will tell you which email programs are most used by your list, cover those ones at least.

Tracking Is key!

You want to be able to measure the effectiveness of this email marketing campaign in Google Analytics (GA).  Make sure that you have the GA tracking option ticked and that you create a unique identifier title for the campaign.

You can use UTM tracking in your links if needed, but if you are using one of the major systems like Mailchimp, GA tacking is included. Be sure to tick it when you are ready to send your final email out.  Add an annotation to GA on the day you send your email out at this will be useful when looking back at traffic spikes over the months and also help to understand effectiveness.

Personalise Your Emails

I don’t just mean by adding a ‘hello Jack’ to your emails, although this is part of it.  Using technology to enhance the content you send out to your list is key these days. If your email list is segmented for example, you can start to send dynamic content.

This might be  ‘interested in X’ or ‘purchased X’ and so on.  If you have an ecommerce site and have a direct data feed in to your email system, you can start to really personalise these emails.


I recently purchased a vitamin product online, 3 weeks later I received an email from the company asking me how I was getting on. They actively requested a product review as well as giving me a clear route to offer any reason why I wouldn’t be re-purchasing.

The email was offering me a discount on my next purchase.  This could well have been an automated email but it felt personal to me and did prompt a response.

Is Email Marketing Still Effective?

Yes, we think so anyway, don’t write it off yet. We think that businesses need to think smarter in terms of how to get the best out of it and to not be afraid to collect email data.

We know from our own clients that businesses who utilise technology to segment, automate and personalise get better results. Have a look at your current email comms and the results you are currently getting, could you be doing it differently and getting better results?

If you are looking for help with your email marketing and think we could be a good fit for you, please do get in touch marketing@philosophi.uk

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