If you’ve ever tried to market by email, you might already know it can take a bit of trial and error to get it right.

Perhaps you’ve tried email marketing in the past and gotten a poor response rate, making you wonder if it’s actually worth bothering at all. It’s easy to be put off if you think no-one is going to read what you have to say.

Maybe you already have a large database of people you’ve acquired over time.

You want to make better use of all these contacts at your fingertips, yet when it comes to sitting down and writing out an email blast, you feel uncertain of the type of message you should be sending.

Whatever the reason, I know from experience that marketing by email can be tough. Below, I’m going to share with you just some of the lessons I have learned to help you get the most out of your leads.

Lesson 1: Know who you’re emailing

Before you send out an email, take a closer look at who it is you’re writing to. Have they expressed an interest in finding a solution to a problem? At which stage of the sales journey are they? Are they what’s known as a ‘qualified’ lead?

When I first started experimenting with email marketing, I sent the same email out to everyone, regardless of the quality of the leads and whether they were really interested in what I had to say.

As a result, 80% didn’t even react. First lesson learned.

Next, I wanted to know what it was that made people react to our messages.

Lesson 2: Be helpful – not salesy

I soon began to find that the messages that got the best response rate were the messages that were helpful, and provided value to the reader – without trying to sell.

Think about your target audience. In order to get their attention, you need to understand their challenges and concerns. Now, give them what they want by providing them with useful, valuable tips that will help them achieve their goal – and do it without any catch or unwanted sales tactics.

Who knows, maybe they’ll even look forward to receiving your next email.

Lesson 3: Get personal

It wasn’t long before I also learned that the real trick to creating emails that get results is by getting as personal as possible – and no, that doesn’t mean asking someone about how their cat is doing or what they had for breakfast.

Instead, you should be sending out emails that address your contacts personally. Mention their name, and their company name – and that’s just for starters.

To get the best results, you should be segmenting your database into different types of leads who all face very specific goals or challenges – or maybe even according to job role or interests – and tailoring your messages to appeal to them.

Lesson 4: Don’t talk about yourself

I found that all the above tips were working really well, but as soon as I began talking about myself and my business? People turned off.

Accept that whoever’s reading most likely is not interested in you or your business right now – instead, they care about their own problems and how you can solve them. So, going off in tangents about your business and services will instantly lose their attention.

Once they’ve done their research and have expressed an interest in using your service, THAT’s the time you can introduce your unique positioning and talk about what makes your services stand-out above anyone else’s.

TIP: don’t get me wrong: a company newsletter can be a powerful tool, but let that be something your visitors can choose to subscribe to of their own accord. Sending it without their permission is the quickest way to get them to unsubscribe.

Lesson 5: Don’t use fancy photos or code

Maybe you think that in order for email marketing to work, you need to use a bunch of fancy html and photos to get your point across? Well, that’s exactly what I thought, until I read the evidence to the contrary.

According to HubSpot, plain text emails win out every time. In fact, they found adding .GIFs to email marketing actually decreased the open rate by 37%. Isn’t that crazy?

Further to that, HTML templates were found to decrease open rates by 25%.

So the main takeaway here is that if you want the best performance from your email marketing, stick to plain, personalised emails that focus on providing value to your readers.

That’s the real key.


You may already know that email marketing can be notoriously difficult to get right – and it can take a bit of experimenting before you see any tangible results. However, when you finally do, it’s worth the effort.

Here are some of the main lessons I’ve learned from our email marketing here at Stargazer:

  1. Know who you’re emailing
  2. Be helpful – not salesy
  3. Get personal
  4. Don’t talk about yourself
  5. Don’t use fancy photos or code

If you can follow all of the above tips when you set out to market by email, you’ll be well on your way to success.

What lessons have you learned from email marketing? Have I missed anything out?

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