Clickthrough Breakthroughs: Uplevel Your Email Marketing

By Kent Brubaker (a.k.a. Dr. Digital), Web Development Manager & UI/UX Designer

One thing is eminently clear about today’s marketing landscape: if you have a product to sell or a brand to promote, you should be making regular appearances in current and prospective customers’ inboxes. Don’t just show up, though; bring your best. When you deliver marketing emails that are goal-driven, targeted, on-message, highly visual, and optimized for mobile consumption, your customers will take notice—and you’ll reap the rewards.

Email Marketing, Really? Really.

For starters, while paid search, content marketing, social media, and SEO are indisputably important digital marketing tools, email marketing is still where it’s at when it comes to reaching potential customers. There are currently more than four billion email users on planet Earth. That’s half the global population. So, if you want your brand messaging to reach approximately eight billion eyeballs (which seems like a good goal) email marketing is the way to go.

Here’s a sad but true stat: we spend nearly five hours per day perusing our email. That means the average person whiles away approximately one-third of their available waking hours wading through an email inbox. Chances are good that you’re one of those people, and I know you want emails that are engrossing, entertaining, and easy to act upon.

When provided with engaging digital content, marketing email recipients are much more than passive readers; they actively generate some serious ROI. For every dollar invested, email marketers will see an average return of $36. Let that sink in. That’s a 36:1 ratio. You just can’t beat it (if you can, please tell me how). Make it easy for email recipients to convert, and your bottom line will soon be up top.

Now that you’re convinced that email marketing is well worth your investment, let’s shift our focus to making the most of your campaigns. By employing these simple strategies, you’ll hone your email marketing capability, capture your recipients’ attention, and show off your brand’s best.

Define your why.

Before you write a word or select an image, ask yourself why you’re sending this email or crafting this campaign. Are you looking to increase sales, build brand awareness, or generate leads? Maybe you’re sharing a special promotion, sending out an enewsletter, or educating your audience. Whatever your goal, ensure that your email is written and designed especially for that purpose.

Once you’ve identified your why, ask yourself a few simple questions to bring your goal into granular focus:

  • Is the proposed content in alignment with my goal?
  • Which key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics will I assess to measure the success of my campaign?
  • Have I customized my content and goals for my intended audience(s)?

Check your list—twice.

It can be tempting for email marketers to cast the proverbial wide net, but remember that it’s a rare fish that needs a bicycle. An ideal recipient list is segmented, enabling you to carefully curate your content for each segment’s unique needs and wants. According to HubSpot, segmented emails drive 30% more opens and 50% more clickthroughs than non-segmented emails.

Think of each inbox entry as an opportunity—one that may be your last if your recipient unsubscribes. Put yourself in your recipient’s inbox; would you open your email? Make sure your content is relevant and tailored to your recipients’ interests, and you’ll be one step closer to earning their business. (Hint: that fish might really need a new filter.)

Now, let’s turn our attention to the design behind the email.

Turn down the noise.

You want to transmit your message with minimal interference, so take time to evaluate the quality versus quantity of the information contained in your emails. I recommend checking your emails’ signal-to-noise ratio and ensuring that chatter isn’t drowning out your key messages. Does your content have a clear takeaway? Will your readers immediately know what you want them to do?

This article on signal-to-noise ratio compares a classroom lecture chock full of relevant and actionable information and a cocktail party where most of the conversation is unintelligible. Which one do you think leaves attendees with a stronger positive impression? Be the lecture (but make it feel like a party).

Get visual.

If you want your messages to stick—and what email marketer doesn’t—it’s essential to integrate compelling images into your campaigns. Human brains recall 65% of information presented alongside an image three days later versus a dismal 10% of information presented alone. (Source:

Some additional facts that underscore this point:

So while people spend about five hours per day in their email inboxes, marketers have only a few seconds to capture (and hopefully keep) readers’ attention. Have stats to share? Create a visually engaging infographic. Selling produce? Invest in photography that shows your food in luscious detail. You won’t be sorry.

Embrace the scroll.

By 2025, a projected 75% of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones. That means all content must be optimized for mobile viewing—including marketing emails. Rather than seeing this as limiting, let it provide a clear framework for your content and visuals.

What works best for mobile scrolling? A single-column format is almost always the way to go. Start with an engaging image, deliver a clear and concise written message, and quickly guide your reader to an irresistible call to action (CTA). Two-column and hybrid layouts are options too, depending on your campaign’s goal (the first strategy). Keep it simple, visually engaging, and easy to navigate. You want to save your reader’s energy for acting on your CTA.

Crafting compelling marketing emails isn’t rocket science, but it is brain science. The more closely your emails align with the way humans process information, the more successful your brand will be.

When you’re ready to uplevel your email marketing efforts, let’s connect. Street Level Studio’s content and creative directors would love to see you pop into their inboxes.