Email Marketing

What are some tips to improve email marketing for a startup?

Maria Garnier Operations Coordinator en Socialatom Group

February 16th, 2017

I advise an early-stage startup in the subscription/e-commerce space. Email is one of their main marketing channels, and they’ve been able to generate a fairly large list for a young company, but they struggle a lot with open and click rates.

They’ve done some experimenting with subject and preview lines, but nothing has had the intended effect yet.

What are some ways the founders and marketing team can improve email open and click rates? What can be done in the subject and preview, and in the body? Should they be experimenting with send times and dates, or is that a waste of time? What about segmentation? Or should early-stage founders be focused on getting their message out to as many people as possible?

Biswajit Singh

February 24th, 2017

First; understand who you are sending emails to. For instance; if you offer discounts for students or discounts for retirees, consider segmenting your email lists by age group. providing relevant messages to your target audiance can encourage higher open and click-through rates and fewer unsubscribes.

Second; Make sure your emails are mobile friendly

Third; Make your emails text based instead of images. although images look pretty but most email clients like Outlook block them automatically. This means most people will see broken stuff instead of the pretty image. So i recommend writing short but descriptive paragraphs with links to the site. Now tag those links to see hat people are clicking on and what they aren't.

Fourth; have your email come from a member of your marketing, customer service teams, or even your CEO may be. Also; let people know how to respond, so their reply won’t get bounced or ignored.

Fifth; Make your subject line compelling but dont make it too pushy.

Short subject lines that drive urgency for instance ‘Last chance!’ ‘Ends tonight’ etc have the maximum open rate.

Personalize your email and also put a clear call to action.

God luck!!!

Rob Hirsch Traveler, nature lover, & entrepreneur

February 16th, 2017

Talk about timing. I just wrote about email open rates. My average is ~40%. Here are the high level points. This does not include notification emails. I haven't used segementation yet, but people swear by it and I can see it's value.

  • Pick a frequency & stick to it. It creates predictability around the brand.
  • Figure out a content strategy for the emails, preferably something the recipients want to know about and with a CTA or question at the end. I used the email series as a survey, just asking for a simple "yes" if they liked it.
  • Follow an email structure, like a subject template & schedule with nice logo starting off the email body. If you can get to the point right below that, it's best. If not, you have to convince them to keep reading. A.I.D.A.
  • Follow basic guidelines for text, like giving paragraphs a goal, keeping them to 2-3 lines and 2-4 sentences. There's some flexibility here.

Manish Sharma Digital Marketer | SEO Expert

Last updated on February 17th, 2017

Jay Hang Startup founder

February 24th, 2017

Open rate is related to your email list quality.

Click rate is related to your email content quality.

And you MUST know/allow response from the recipients, each and everyone.

So that your next serial email does not become/reported as spam.

... actual experience from emailing hundreds of thousands recipients


February 24th, 2017

Maria ,

It is a very generic question and everyone answering here is correct but the success rate depends on what your company is trying to sell via email marketing. I have run teams selling services to products and used many mode including email marketing and success is greatly depended on what you are selling and your segment.

Having a great database of people whom your client things potential many not be the right potential segment always. Trying different time, subject etc. will help a bit but not a whole lot if your product does not fall into a category of instant action. For example say I am selling for t-shirts for an ecom company (a call to action now will work) but if i am selling a software product which is say 2000 USD per license , this approach will not work.

Again reachout to as many people on email to get message out is not effective either. I get atleast 10 emails every day of some company or other trying to sell me something. I rarely read them as first glance i know if its a spam or not.

Metin Emenullahi Humanizing web security.

February 17th, 2017

I recently did mentoring on growth hacking and early marketing to a second year startup, who, without any marketing campaigns, just by launching the product on play store, accumulated 33K active, 100K total users over 2 years.

I advised them to create a community and attract users there first before showing them the product. So we created community, we sparked the first communication between the community members and as a result around 600 people gathered to community in the matter of three weeks.

During this time, we sent notifications, emails, facebook posts, youtube videos, instagram posts and etc. to stack up content, to attract people, and most importantly to convince the actual target segment inside that 33K to come join our community. Our main message was "Come join, share, learn". Right now these marketing stuff is part of the culture of that startup, they follow the exact steps, when they launch a feature, or when they do campaigning and etc.


As for the timing, you definitely need to know when to push what but you don't need a lot of testing actually. Focus on your personas, what they do in which time during the day? Ask this question over and over again, and you'll come up with an answer.


I'm not in favor of cold, text-only emails, which are not readable, requires a lot of time to skim/read, and tire up the eyes. My advise is to create email templates matching the brand's identity. Forget about subject lines of 90s: "Don't miss this out", "This is your last chance". Too long, too obvious, too cheesy. Create separate email templates for different purposes such as "Feature Template", "Campaign template", "Holiday template", "Personalized emails template" and etc. Depending on your personas, you may need to send different types of emails on different times of the day or days of the week.

Finally, IMO, early-stage or not these things have to be part of company culture and have to be focused the minute development starts. They don't have to adopt all marketing techniques in one sitting but they need to start with most important one first and focus on it.