<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=887082134730209&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

3 min read

Liven Up Your Email Marketing: Ideas to Test, Temptations to Avoid

Liven Up Your Email Marketing: Ideas to Test, Temptations to Avoid

As a first-time attendee of HubSpot’s INBOUND, I was blown away by the schedule. There was something exciting happening every 15 minutes. I was buzzing with energy and fueled with caffeine as I soaked up as many valuable insights as I could.

The very first session I attended was impactful: New Email Marketing Test Ideas and Pitfalls to Avoid, co-hosted by Pierce Ujjainwalla, owner and CEO of Knak, and Jay Schwedelson, founder of SubjectLine.com. They shared results from email marketing tests from the previous 90 days, showcasing both successes and failures. They also shared advice to address common email marketing hurdles and pain points.

Write Emails, But Make Them CHEETAH

Pierce came up with the acronym, “CHEETAH” to help guide the creation of impactful email content. It’s an intriguing way to anchor best practices to your email campaign routine.


Do what you can to grab your reader's attention while they scan through their inbox. This could be as simple as including emojis in your subject line or preview text. Try taking it up a notch by animating your account profile picture.

Here’s a caveat. Whenever we try to make subject lines more compelling, we don't want to lose sight of relevance. Don’t forget–is the subject line still addressing the need or pain point for whoever is receiving the email?


Aim to write your email copy so it sounds like it is coming directly from you–not a robotic corporation. The next time you need to write email copy, instead of opening a Google Doc or Word, Pierce suggests crafting it directly in your outbound mailbox. Whether you’re using AI or are coming up with copy on your own, this is a great exercise to keep you in touch with the human aspect of sending an email.

I especially like this point as it is easy to lose sight of the intended audience and goal of your copy–especially with email. Writing copy in an actual email forces you to keep things simple and readable.


No one likes reading a boring email, so why are you structuring your campaigns around them? Take calculated risks, be funny, and do what you can to let your brand voice shine through. People connect with and react to authentic storytelling, not stale, robotic offers that lack a personal touch.


Just like you and I, people scan emails to pull out the important information that pertains to them and then keep moving. Keep things simple. This doesn’t mean your copy has to be dry and boring (actually the opposite). Keep it concise with a clearly defined goal and a single call to action.


Here is a great opportunity to challenge yourself (or design team)–start spicing up your graphics! Despite what you might have heard, you do not need to put a straight line under every section of your email. Instead, try including engaging images or play around with a zig-zag format. HubSpot’s email template tool offers a great baseline to get you to start thinking more creatively.


This point is delivered with a word of caution. Including animations like small videos or gifs can certainly make your emails more engaging. Just like anything though, too much of a good thing will not yield positive results. Use animation tastefully, so as to not distract from the main message of your email. Also watch out for large file sizes as they can significantly slow loading speeds, dropping your click through rate (CTR).


And finally, make sure your emails, landing pages, downloadables, and other campaign assets are synchronized. Your email functions as the hook to bring people to a landing page where we want them to convert. These two pieces need to look like they belong together for a cohesive user experience.

It Starts With Email Open Rates: Ace Your Subject Lines

After Pierce provided a thorough explanation of what to include within email copy, Jay took the floor to explain the art of subject lines in conjunction with current email trends.

Did you know that the average office employee receives 126 emails per day? Big yikes. That’s why effective emails require due attention to the subject line and preview text, as they are crucial in standing out among all the other emails your target audience is receiving. Implementing strategies to make subject lines irresistible can significantly boost open rates.

Here are some stats that Jay collected from Outcome Media, Subjectline.com, and Guru Events to help increase your open rates:

  1. Add pain points in your subject lines. By sprinkling in words like ‘tired of,’ ‘struggling with,’ ‘feeling,’ etc. increased open rates by 22-29 percent.
  2. People like steps. Anything broken down into steps gives off the impression that it is a more manageable task. Adding ‘Steps’ in the subject line increased open rates by 24%. Of course, make sure your email then follows up with the steps you promised in the subject line.
  3. Engage with your audience on an aspirational level. If they are at the director level, engage them as if they were C-suite. Why? People are always wanting to achieve the next best thing–this especially applies to how we view our jobs. That tactic increased open rates by 28 percent.
  4. Email open rates are reportedly higher when subject lines do not include numbers ending in 0 or 5. Readers tend to feel those numbers are made up and not real. Example:
    1. Join the other 12,000 subscribers today for insights on sweet deals -OR
    2. Join the other 11,578 subscribers today for insights on sweet deals

When tested, subject lines like the second one above increased open rates by 21 percent.

These ideas should give you plenty to work with. But, if you're interested in learning more from Pierce and Jay about email strategies similar to what they presented at INBOUND, you can watch a recording of a LinkedIn live session here.

And remember this: If a strategy fails, switch gears and don't be afraid to experiment with different tactics. They may lead to a breakthrough or maintain current results. Take a leap and see if these tactics can boost open and conversion rates.

click here to download the digital marketing guide

Read on:

INBOUND 2017 Recap: Our Top Takeaways from HubSpot's Annual Conference

INBOUND 2017 Recap: Our Top Takeaways from HubSpot's Annual Conference

Looking for more great marketing insights? Check out the Inbound 2018 Recap on our blog! Inbound 2017 took place in late September and the...

Read More
INBOUND 2022: HubSpot’s New Features

INBOUND 2022: HubSpot’s New Features

The annual INBOUND conference is the place to network, learn, and find out first-hand HubSpot’s latest and greatest marketing features. HubSpot’s...

Read More
3 Key Tools for an Effective HubSpot Lead Management System

3 Key Tools for an Effective HubSpot Lead Management System

Successful lead management requires a clean database with actionable information that fits into your overall sales and marketing blueprint. That’s...

Read More