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Email marketing has some of the best overall ROI when compared to other marketing channels.

It’s nearly twice as profitable as SEO efforts with a 4,000% ROI per $1 spent:

Email Marketing - 4,000% ROI Per $1 SpentBut not everyone sees these incredible results.

Seeing profitability on your email marketing spend means you must master how to:

  1. Avoid spam filters to get into the inbox
  2. Get opened and capture the recipient’s attention
  3. Get conversions by convincing the recipient to take action
  4. Measure results
  5. Make positive changes and test again

So how do you maximize your email marketing ROI?

In the ultimate guide below, I’ll teach you (click to jump to a section):

1. How to Track Your Emails and Measure ROI

Yesware Email Tracking and Reporting

If you aren’t currently tracking your emails, you’re not able to monitor key metrics like opens, click-through rates, and conversions. Without monitoring this data, you have no way to measure the success of your email marketing campaigns.

Once you start tracking this information the data will practically tell you exactly what to do or what not to do.

If you don’t currently have a service to track your emails, I’d recommend trying HubSpot’s free CRM. You can also learn more about email marketing by taking their free training courses.

There are plenty of excellent email tracking software options to choose from. Most CRMs will show you real time desktop notifications when your email is opened, allow you to schedule emails and save email templates.

You’ll want to use a CRM that has access to robust reporting. Being able to track and measure opens, clicks, and your other goals will help you to better understand how to optimize your emails for conversions and test variables for improvements.

2. The Importance of A/B Testing and How to Run Tests

How to run email A/B testsA/B testing is a valuable way to see if small tweaks in the message, design or structure of an email will lead to a higher conversion rate. The goal here is to test for the most successful email version so we can maximize our ROI.

And it’s not rocket science.

For example, email subject lines with a name have an average open rate that’s 29.3% higher. The only reason we know this is because Experian Marketing Services decided to do an A/B test to see which subject lines were more successful.

 You could try a similar test:

AB Test Example 1With a clear winner, you can test the winning result with another variation of the subject line again:

AB Test Example 2Now we can send the best subject line to the rest of our mailing list to maximize our opens.

By testing your own emails, you can get personal insights into your target audience and help you understand how to grab their attention intuitively.

MailChimp is one of my favorite email automation tools to use. They allow you to setup A/B tests and test with a small audience first. MailChimp will automatically send out your best converting emails to the rest of your email list:

AB Testing Emails with MailChimpThis can be incredibly helpful to keep track of multiple A/B tests at one time.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of A/B testing, let’s go over some different variables we can run tests for.

A/B Testing for Better Open Rates

To increase your open rate, test different variations of from names, subject lines, and preview text:

Maximizing Email Open RatesYou can get as specific as testing for:

  • Capitalization, punctuation, buzzwords, length and even emojis of your subject lines
  • Using a real name instead of a business name (from John Doe instead of ‘Facebook Business’)
  • Using CTAs in your preview text

Start with small tests for a single variable, make note of which email resonated with your audience more, and then test it again with another slight modification to continuously look for improvements.

If you’re open rate is small or non-existent, your emails may be getting marked as spam. To learn why, click here to skip ahead to the section: Why Your Emails Are Going to the Spam Folder.

A/B Testing for the Best Click Through Rate (CTR)

Let’s face it — if your recipients aren’t clicking your links and completing goals you’ve outlined, it doesn’t matter what your open rate is.

Whether you’re capturing leads or directing them to an ecommerce product, knowing how to improve your CTR is vital for the success of your campaigns.

You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention, so test your email content for these attention grabbing variables:

  • Content – actual messaging, length of email, images, slang terms, etc.
  • Fonts – size, color, and font families
  • CTAs – placement within the email, size, shape, color etc.

Whichever version has the best CTR is the one you’ll send out to your remaining email list.

3. Why Your Emails Are Going to the Spam Folder

Why Your Emails Are Going to the Spam FolderIf your open rate is small or non-existent, there’s a good chance your emails are going straight to the spam folder.

Here’s why your emails might end up in spam:

  1. You are using flagged keywords and language in your emails.
  2. Your email address looks spammy.
  3. Your emails aren’t getting opens or clicks.
  4. Recipients are reporting your emails as spam.

Let’s dig deeper.

You Are Using Flagged Keywords and Language in Your Emails

If you open your spam folder right now, it’s likely filled to the brim with subject lines like “Crazy online biz opportunity” or “You’re a Winner!” or the classic “Meet singles in your area!” emails.

While there isn’t a complete list of all keywords to avoid, here are a few examples you can look at. It’s best to steer clear of terms related to financing (ex. buy, gift certificate, free) or healthcare (pills, pharmacy, weight loss) in both your subject line and copy.

You can use some free tools to test if your emails will get delivered correctly or flagged as spam. Take a look at Litmus, Glock Apps, and IsNotSpam to help you prevent your emails from getting marked as junk:

Glock Apps Checks for Email SpamYour Email Address Looks Spammy

I don’t know about you, but I would personally rather do business with than But personal preferences aside, email service providers tend to pick favorites.

Simply put, generic email addresses don’t usually win.

Having a professional email address that’s tied to your web domain will give you a greater chance of making it through the spam filters, especially when sending out mass email campaigns at once. It also helps prevent someone from clicking the “Report spam” button in their inbox, since your outreach looks more legitimate.

Recipients Are Reporting Your Emails as Spam

Maybe your email is making it into the inbox. But if the recipient chooses to mark it as spam themselves, we have a problem.

Once your email is flagged as spam, the recipient will have to manually un-mark it as spam. For this reason, it’s best to avoid getting into the junk folder in the first place.

To prevent this, we need to segment our email list into different groups so that we only deliver relevant emails to our recipients.

4. Tips for Increasing Email Marketing ROI

Segmenting Your Email List into Groups

Segmenting Your Email List into GroupsSegmentation is the cornerstone of boosting your email marketing ROI. Without grouping your subscribers based on a specific set of characteristics, interests or traits, you will not be able to build smart campaigns.

When you segment your list, you only send relevant emails to a highly targeted audience. This is how you build a high quality, exceptionally engaged email list.

Here are some of the most common ways to segment your email list:

  • Age
  • Engagement Level
  • Gender
  • Geography
  • Industry
  • Organization
  • Past Purchases
  • Sales Cycle Stage
  • Seniority Level
  • Shopping Cart Abandonment
  • Etc…

In addition, I would highly recommend segmenting your emails into the following action-oriented lists:

  • Group 1: Subscribers who open most of your emails, but don’t click
  • Group 2: Subscribers who click, but don’t convert
  • Group 3: Subscribers who didn’t open the last email
  • Group 4: Subscribers who have consistently responded to or acted upon your emails

With a myriad of ways to segment your email lists, you can send applicable content to engaged recipients every time.

Reducing the Number of Images in an Email

While images are great at grabbing a reader’s attention, too many images can be counter-active.

Using images that are too large or using too many images with limited email copy can trigger spam filters to send your email to the junk folder. Not to mention, some email clients like Outlook will turn off image visibility by default. For this reason, don’t rely too heavily on images to get your message across.

Experiment with using a single GIF for a non-overwhelming way to capture attention.

Using a Friendly ‘Reply-To’ Email Address

When you use a reply-to address the right way, you can encourage your subscribers to respond to your email.

Email providers like Google and Outlook will see active replies as a sign that your email isn’t spam.

Take these two examples:

Using a Friendly Reply-To Email AddressWhich email do you think is more likely to get responses? Avoid using “no-reply” email address in your marketing emails to improve your email marketing efforts.

Confirming Legitimate Email Subscribers

Sometimes spammers and bots can enter random email addresses to sign up for your mailing list. If you don’t have a double opt-in feature setup, your emails might accidentally be sent to people who never wanted to see your content.

4 out of 5 welcome emails are confirmation emails, and for good reason. Adding this extra step means you’ll have much less fake emails on your subscription list.

Don’t Forget: Follow CAN-SPAM Act Compliance Law

Perhaps most importantly, familiarize yourself with the CAN-SPAM Act compliance law so you don’t rack up thousands of dollars in violation fines — up to $41,484 per separate email violation. Yikes!

The CAN-SPAM Act applies to more than just bulk marketing emails — even B2B emails are required to comply with the law.

To avoid costly repercussions, make sure to follow the CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Do not use false or misleading header information, such as spoofing a domain name or email address.
  2. Do not use deceptive subject lines just to get people to click and open your email.
  3. Disclose that your email is an ad somewhere clearly within the email.
  4. Include your business’s physical postal address within the email.
  5. Include a opt-out or unsubscribe link with clear instructions on how to stop receiving email.
  6. Do not hesitate to honor opt-out requests — promptly honor their requests within 10 business days.
  7. Monitor business partners and third parties emailing on your behalf — both you, the company promoted, and the separate party sending the emails can be held legally responsible.


With a clear plan and a strategic approach, you can avoid the most common pitfalls of blind email marketing efforts. Segmenting your email list to provide unique value through different email campaigns for your customers or leads will make them more likely to engage with your content. Tracking their actions will help you to learn about what resonates and what doesn’t. Before you know it, you’ll have mastered the art of maximizing your email marketing ROI.

Brennan Flentge

Brennan Flentge

Since 2010, Brennan has utilized his creative intuition to provide branding and marketing services for friends, family, and clients. From graphic design and web development to advertising and SEO, Brennan has slowly built a powerful skill set and regularly shares his knowledge with others. Read more about all things marketing, entrepreneurship, startups and tech (and maybe a little bit about video games, too) at

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