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Optimizing Marketing Email

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

How to optimize open rates

What are some of the methods?

Well-targeted subscriber lists

These really will help you optimize your open rates. Having targeted subscriber lists, curated, intentionally grown and nurtured over time, will definitely help you with open rates.

Familiar sender name

Make sure that people know that this is the person who’s always sending the email, or this is the account that’s always sending an email. If, for example, I subscribe to a social media marketer from Harvard University, and if all of a sudden, the emails from that person were coming through with a different name, it might confuse me, or it might think, “Is this real? Is this spam? Is this not a legitimate email?” You know, there’s certain things, like familiarity.

Effective subject lines

In the case of my friend who writes this newsletter from Harvard, their subject line is always the same every week. “Here are the five things email that you need to read.” And it gives you this sense of regularity, comfort, and routine. The routines matter when it comes to email subscriptions, and people want to get kind of tucked into those routines.

So your effective subject line really does matter, and we’ve gone over subject lines previously, but subject lines are the hook. They’re the thing that most people see, in addition to the sender name, and you have those two chances to get people to open your email.

Optimizing click rates

What are the methods?

  • Simple and explicit CTAs: You need to have simple and explicit calls to action. They do work. Keep it simple. Keep it explicit. Don’t confuse people. Keep things simple, and they will figure it out.
  • Multiple links for the same action: That can be helpful. Little bit of repetition, but it directs people to the same place. If you put a lot of links in your email, and they all go to the same place, then you’re kind of guaranteeing yourself that, “Hey. No matter what link my reader clicks on, they’re going to get to that place of action, no matter what.” So you might have a lot of links, but it’s all going to the same place.
  • Offering deals for a limited time: Today only, we’re offering this. You’re going to get people to click it because, guess what, people are incentivized to click it.
  • Testing different colors: You’re going to be changing your template around, modifying it, and tweaking the design. Find out what works. And if you change something, and then, all of a sudden, everything in terms of your metrics take a precipitous drop, then you might be able to say, “Okay. We’re not going to do that anymore. We’re going to go back to the original color, the original design, because that’s what people like.” And you always want to cater to your readers.

How to minimize unsubscribes

This is important because you’ve got a list full of people. You want to make sure you keep them there. You’ve got their attention, initially. You want to sustain their attention.

So what do you do?

  • Timely: You keep things timely. You give them information. You give them content that is timely. Relevant to why they subscribed in the first place.
  • Targeted: You then target and segment out that content, so that it fits. The person that you’re sending it to gets content that is relevant to them, so that they don’t feel as if they’re being bombarded with content that doesn’t add any value to them, doesn’t bring anything unique or special to them.
  • Relevant content to engage recipients: Keep it relevant. In the case of my mother and my brother, the content that I was sending them was not relevant to them. Therefore, it didn’t engage them. Therefore, they unsubscribed. However, my other readers on my blog have stayed subscribed because most of them work within the industry or the sector of higher education, which is predominantly where my consulting efforts lie, which means that I’m providing content that is relevant to my readers because it’s industry-specific.

How to minimize bounce rates

What are the methods?

  • Remove bounced emails from lists: If they’re a bad email, remove it. Cull that email from your list, and it’s okay to get rid of it.
  • Use real-time email validation services: You’re real-time curating and culling. Make sure that people know that your email is good and that it’s valid, so that it’s not going to maybe get black-listed, or you’re going to have a bounce-back simply because your email is seen now as being a spam email.
  • Check your list for typos: Some of those basics around grammar and typos can be very important. People make typos when they join your email list. They might mis-type gmail.com. It’s really easy to transpose a letter. So sometimes you may have to go in and make intuitive jumps or guesses around what someone might have meant to type and help them with that, especially if you’re getting a bounce, repeated bouncing on that particular email.

Provide a way for recipients to update their email addresses: That is one of the smartest things that a marketer can do, providing their audience a way to move with them. So for example, as I’ve gone throughout my career, I’ve had a number of different email addresses, prior to getting my sort of one-size-fits-all Gmail account. Because of that, it would be great if when I subscribed to an email list when I worked at, say, the University of Illinois Chicago, that I was then able to log in and say, “I want to update, so that I can change it to my Oregon State email,” or then when I left Oregon State, to say, “I want to keep being a subscriber, but I now want to receive emails on my Gmail account.”

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Eric Stoller

Eric Stoller is a Higher Education Strategic Communications Consultant and Blogger at Inside Higher Ed. With a background in student affairs, academic advising, wellness, technology, and communications, Eric educates clients and audiences on digital identity development. As a blogger, he generates conversations, answers questions, and provides insight about a variety of tech topics, including Social Media Strategies and Email Marketing.

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Evaluate the role of email marketing in demand generation and lead conversions 
  • Evaluate marketing emails designs and their effectiveness
  • Appraise the performance of email marketing campaigns

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    DMI Short Course: GDPR

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      Applied Email Marketing
      Eric Stoller
      Skills Expert

      Communication expert Eric Stoller will help you to identify the attributes and features of an effective marketing email. You will recognize the importance of professional email design to retain brand reputation and subscribers, and will understand that testing is the basis of every successful email marketing campaign. Eric will then introduce the key metrics and statistics within email reporting, and will help you to identify methods for optimizing the performance of your campaign.