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Guides The Modern Guidebook to Email Marketing

Guides The Modern Guidebook to Email Marketing


Email is a form of communication we depend on. Thirty-three percent of Americans check their email throughout the day, and another 39% check it up to three times a day.

Given these statistics, it’s not surprising that businesses around the world bank on email marketing to increase brand awareness, engage customers and drive revenue.

To help marketers like yourself, create, send, and track effective and engaging emails, Campaign Monitor has put together this Modern Guidebook to Email Marketing. This guide is meant to be a one-stop shop for helpful and actionable advice, tips and know-how to help you be a better email marketer.


The importance of email marketing

Businesses have a lot of choices when it comes to marketing channels, but there’s a reason why 89% of marketers say that email marketing is their primary communication channel.

Email marketing is an affordable, effective way to engage customers that can have a significant impact on your business’s bottom line.

To examine the importance of email marketing more closely, here are five reasons why businesses rely on it:


Email has a great return on investment

Every business wants to stretch their marketing dollars as far as possible. For ten years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.

A 2015 report from the DMA shows one in five businesses have a return on investment of over 70:1.


Email drives conversions

You want subscribers that open your emails, and engage with your company, but most businesses focus on the almighty conversion rate. Conversion rates show how many subscribers followed through with an action, like those that clicked a link or made a purchase.

Yet again, email delivers. Email conversion rates are three times higher than social, with a 17% higher value in conversion.

The best part is that you can monitor your conversation rate with every email sent. Email is a highly measurable marketing tool. You have access to easy-to-understand dashboards that show you exactly how well your email campaigns are doing.


Email stands the test of time

Email isn’t a fad. The first email was sent back in 1978 from an equipment company. Digital Equipment Corp sent an email promoting machinery to 400 people, which resulted in $13 million in sales. That was twelve years before the public was introduced to the internet.

Now, 4.1 billion email accounts exist. By 2018, that number is expected to grow to 5.2 billion.

Clearly, email is here to stay.


Email trumps social in customer acquisition

There’s a lot of talk about utilizing social channels to attract new customers, but the truth is, email beats social media in customer acquisition. Email is nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.


Email provides control

Facebook and Twitter can change their terms on a whim, and you have no say in the matter. You follow the rules, or you can’t use the platform. Email isn’t like that. It’s an open communication tool. You control your reach and message. The time you spend growing and nurturing your email list won’t be compromised by algorithm or platform changes and you own your data.

In short, email marketing is a smart choice. So, let’s start talking about how to use it as effectively as possible.


Building a quality email list

Your email list should be continually growing with quality, engaged subscribers.


It’s logical to believe that the larger an email list is, the more profitable it will be. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s best to focus on quality not just quantity. A small group of subscribers that are genuinely interested in your product will always be more valuable than 100 people that might buy a product someday.

That’s why you want to use specific tactics that attract quality subscribers. What are these tactics? Here’s a list of six ways you can grow your email list with valuable contacts:


Add a sign up form to your website

If a visitor checks out your site, it’s a pretty clear sign that he or she is into your business. Give visitors a chance to engage with your company by adding a sign up form to your website.

Give visitors a reason to sign up. Encourage them to sign up for your newsletter, or receive weekly offers. Follow that up with a short form that asks visitors for their name and email address.

Campaign Monitor makes this process simple with sign up forms that you can add to your site. The email addresses that you collect  through the forms will automatically be added to your mailing list in your account. Here’s a how to create the email sign up form and set it up on your website.


Add a ‘signup’ button to your website

In addition to a form, why not add a sign up button to your website too? You can add a small ‘Subscribe’ button to your list of social icons. It’s another cool Campaign Monitor feature that helps website visitors find their way to your contact list.

Here’s what the button looks like:


When the button is clicked, a small form pops up center-screen and asks for the subscriber’s name and an email address. Again, the information goes right into your mailing list in your Campaign Monitor account.


Add a pop up to your site

You can prompt website visitors to join your email list by adding a Scroll Box. Once a visitor scrolls through a certain amount of your website, a pop up will appear asking he or she to join your email list.

Scroll Box is integrated with Campaign Monitor, so of course, your new contacts will roll right into your mailing list in your account. Here’s how Scroll Box works.


Add a subscribe form to your Facebook page

Just as you use your website to promote your Facebook page, you can use your Facebook page to promote joining your email list. How? By adding a subscribe form to your Facebook page. It’s a simple set-up process, just follow the instructions on the Campaign Monitor website.

SXSW uses this on their Facebook page to encourage their social fans to subscribe to their mailing list.



Twitter Lead Generation Cards

Twitter has an ad option that can collect quality contacts. A Lead Generation Card looks like a fancy tweet. It has the usual 140-character message, but it also has a promotion, an image and a call to action.

The card offers customers an incentive, usually a free trial or a discount, in exchange for the visitor’s email address. Once the call to action is clicked, visitors can enter their email into a simple form. Here’s what a card looks like on Twitter:


You can sync your Twitter Lead Generation Cards with your Campaign Monitor account, which means all of the contacts that you collect will flow right into your mailing list.

build an email list

Collect email addresses at checkout

Encourage customers to sign up for your email list at the checkout with a DIY sign up form on your iPad. Using Campaign Monitor’s Enlist app, you can turn any iPad into a sleek, customized signup form.

Subscribers can enter their email address by tapping the screen, and yet again, the contacts flow into your mailing list. Ready to try Enlist? Get the app.

Remember, collecting email addresses and growing your email list is an ongoing process. You should use several methods in tandem to ensure a continuous stream of new, high quality contacts.


The anatomy of an effective email

To create an effective email, it’s important to understand the parts that go into one. Like the human body, there’s an anatomy to an email. We’ll explain all the parts and give you some tips to make sure your email is as healthy and productive as possible.

From name

The ‘from name’ tells the subscriber who sent the email. Since it announces where the email is from, think of it as the mouth of the email.

In the example on the right from Topshop, the ‘from name’ is Topshop. The sentence next to it is the subject line.

Here’s why this ‘from name’ works:

  • The name represents the company
    The ‘from name’ should clearly explain who the email is from. It should contain a company name. An email from Cowboy12345 is unprofessional and will likely be ignored.
  • It’s short and simple.
    The ‘from name’ shouldn’t be long and complicated. You want a subscriber to identify the name instantly, and move on to the next piece of information – the subject line.

Email From Name

Subject line

The subject line is the brain of an email because it has to be creative enough to stimulate the minds of subscribers and encourage them to open your message.

The subject line, as you probably know, is the short line of text that a subscriber sees before opening your email. Thirty-five percent of subscribers open an email based on the subject line alone. That’s why you should spend some time crafting a unique subject line, again using Topshop as an example:


email Subject Line


Here’s why this subject line works:

  • Keep it short
    You have limited space of about 50 characters, or between 6-10 words, so pick your words wisely.  
  • Describe the purpose of the email
    Think of your subject line as a movie trailer that teases a big movie. You want to give subscribers a little taste of what’s inside your email just like the example. Be creative, but not deceptive. In this case, Topshop commands the subscriber’s attention with an offer of 50% off.

email emoji

Consider adding an emoji like a smiley face or a heart to your subject line. Fifty-six percent of brands that use symbols in their subject lines have a higher open rate according to Experian. Learn how to add an emoji to your subject line.

email preheader text

Preheader text

Think of the preheader as the tonsils. You know they exist, but probably aren’t sure what their purpose is. That’s a lot like the preheader text. You’ve probably heard the term tossed around, but aren’t sure where it is or what it does.

The preheader is the descriptive text that immediately follows the subject line. It’s essentially free space to provide additional information to subscribers. In the example from Birchbox, it’s the grey text.

Here’s why this preheader text works:

  • Provides new information
    The preheader should provide new information that wasn’t mentioned in the subject line. The copy should complement the subject line, not repeat it.
  • Personalization
    In this example, the preheader text uses the subscriber’s first name. Any kind of personalization can make your email more effective. You can go beyond the first name and use things like recent purchases, preferences, gender, etc.

Learn more about how to make the most of your preheader text.

Email body

The email body is like the circulatory system. This system keeps blood moving through the body, just like the body of an email keeps a subscriber moving through the lines of your message.

Subscribers are waiting to see what your email is all about. They’re intrigued so don’t let them down. Take a look at the body of this email from Converse:



Here’s why this example works:

The words, “Just Reduced” provide a quick title for subscribers to read. Instantly, subscribers know what the email is about.

Short message
Each email should have one message. In this case, the message is to promote new items that are on sale. Notice how short the message is? Converse explains what the email is about in two short sentences.

Clear and organized
The body of an email should be clear and well organized. The Converse email has a sharp layout and only uses two colors to provide a crisp, clean look.

Call to action

The call to action, which prompts subscribers to go beyond your email, is the heart of your email. The call to action is a button, or link, in the email that helps a subscriber complete an action. For example, a button might take a subscriber to shop on a site, reserve a seat at an event, or continue reading an article.

In the example from La Mer, a Campaign Monitor customer, the call to action is the black ‘Shop Now’ button.

Here’s why this call to action works:

  • It stands out
    A call to action should be attention grabbing. When a subscriber opens an email, they should be able to recognize the call to action without reading a word of text.
  • Effective word choice
    Your call to action should contain active words, which compel a subscriber to act. The use of words like “now,” “today,” “act,” “fast,” and “shop” are commonly used in a call to action.

email call to action from La Mer



Don’t solely rely on text for your emails; remember that images have incredible power to engage. Think of images as the eyes of an email. You want to dazzle the visual senses too. The most engaging emails today have images that stretch edge-to-edge across different screen sizes. As marketers continue to evolve their websites with modern, responsive design, they want their emails to do the same.

Sephora understands this. Check out the image in the email example. It’s the main focus of the email.

Here’s why this image works:

  • Captivating
    There’s no question that this image grabs your attention. Images can be the main focal point of an email, or work as a complement to your text. Either way, make sure the image is appealing.
  • Connected to text
    The image should be relevant to the text in your email. If you’re having a hard time finding appropriate images, here are some stock photo sites and other visual ideas that you can add to your email.


Every email must contain an unsubscribe option. It’s the law. The CAN-SPAM Act sets rules for commercial emails and requires a way for subscribers to opt-out of your email.

Think of the unsubscribe box as an email’s kidney. The kidney is responsible for filtering your blood, just like an unsubscribe system filters your email list and keeps it healthy.

Here’s some ideas for your unsubscribe section:

Focus on these seven components of an email, and you’ll be sending effective messages in no time.


Tips to copywriting that converts

Crafting an email that resonates with subscribers takes a little practice.

It’s not just about mentioning a hot sale, or an upcoming event. The text you create has to hook a reader, and convince him or her to act. To make sure your emails are effective, use these copywriting tips:

Write for ‘scanners’

When you read an email, do you read it word for word or do scan it quickly before deciding whether or not it deserves a closer look? Most people scan emails.

Your subscribers are short on time, and long on commitments. The average attention span is 8 seconds. That’s shorter than a goldfish. It’s important that you write emails with this in mind.

  • Keep your message brief
    You want to write content that’s easily scanned. How? For starters, keep your message brief. The message can usually be summed up in a sentence or two. For example, if you’re writing a promotional email, explain the sale. Get in and get out.
  • Prioritize
    Put the most important information at the beginning for your email. It increases the chances of subscribers seeing it.
  • Stay organized
    Of course, there are emails that require more text. A newsletter, for example, is going to have more text than a sentence or two. To prepare this content for “scanners,” keep your email organized. Use subheadings and bulleted lists that can be read quickly.


Create a sense of urgency

To encourage subscribers to act, your writing should contain a sense of urgency. There are a couple of ways to add urgency to your emails:

  • Set a deadline
    Nothing motivates subscribers like a ticking clock. No one wants to miss out on a good deal, so an imposing deadline is a good way to encourage subscribers to take action.
  • Scarcity
    If inventory is scarce, tell subscribers. Maybe there’s a product back in stock that’s usually sold out, or maybe you’re selling a limited edition collectible. If quantities are scarce, subscribers are forced to act or miss out.
  • Use timely wording
    Add a few time-sensitive words to your subject line and email body. From “Limited-time offer” to “Buy now before it’s gone again,” use words and phrases that tell subscribers they should act quickly.


Personalize your email

By 2018, the average person will receive 140 emails a day according to a study by the Radicati Group. That means your email has to standout in a crowd. In other words, generic emails just won’t do–the days of email blasts and one-size-fits-all are o-v-e-r. You should be personalizing your email messages.

Personalized emails have a 2.5 times higher click-through rate and generate revenue 5.7 times higher than emails without it according to VentureBeat. What can you personalize? Here’s a list:

  • Personalize the from name
    You can segment your list so an email comes from someone a subscriber is familiar with. For example, if a member of your sales team works with a specific client, that salesperson’s name should show up as the ‘from name’ in the inbox.
  • Add a name or other personalization to a subject line
    You can add a subscriber’s name to a subject line. Emails with personalized subject lines see a 26% higher open rate than generic emails.
  • Personalize email content
    You can also personalize the body of the email. A simple, “Hey Barbara!” at the beginning of the message adds a nice personal touch. But you can go a lot further than just a name. If you know a subscriber’s job title, company name, clothing size, gender, or birthday, you can add these elements to your email. Each detail shows subscribers that you care.
  • Images
    You can also personalize images. Maybe you want to add a skyline image of the city a subscriber lives in, or add product shots that are geared toward a specific audience – you can do all of that. Remember, personalization goes beyond text.

email personalization

We love personalization so much we dedicated an entire guide to it. You can snag it for free here.

These tried and tested tips should help you write effective emails that subscribers will engage with.


Best practices for sending your email

Once an email campaign is created, it’s time to deliver it to your subscribers. While clicking the ‘send’ button might seem like the easiest step in the process, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Email timing

A lot of business owners want to know what the best days and times are to send an email. We uncovered data to shed some light on these very questions.

  • Day of the week
    Are your subscribers more likely to open your emails on certain days of the week? Research from Experian says, yes. Most businesses send emails on Mondays and Friday, when open rates hovered around 16%.

However, open rates were slightly higher on the weekend. While fewer businesses send promotional emails on Saturday and Sunday, Experian says open rates come close to 18% on those days.

Time of day

You want subscribers to open your email immediately, so when’s the best time to send an email to get the best open rates? Great question. Campaign Monitor looked at data from 192 million emails to find the answer.

Research shows that 53% of emails are opened during normal business hours, between 9am-5pm. Email activity hits its stride between 9am-11am, as shown by the graph below.


The windows of time before and after the average work day are active too, with most of the activity (24%) happening right after work between 6pm-11pm.

Email frequency

What’s the magic number of emails to send subscribers? It’s a good question, especially considering 54% of consumers site email frequency as the main reason they unsubscribe.

The majority of consumers say they’d like email from a brand once a week or less, according to statistics from Marketing Sherpa. About 61% of consumers say “at least once a week” is best, 87% of consumers want to receive emails “at least monthly” and about 15% want to receive emails daily.

Here’s a chart that shows how often subscribers want to receive emails from you in their inboxes:




Are the majority of companies doing as consumers ask? Most companies send up to five emails a month. So, most are right on target.

While sending emails weekly is a good rule of thumb, there might be times where sending more email is appropriate. For instance, if your business is hosting a special sale, or if you send birthday emails to subscribers on their special day, you might send more than one a week.


The importance of testing

The research we revealed suggests the best day, time, and frequency for emails, but here’s the thing – every business is different.

Maybe your audience is predominately night owls that like to shop online in their pajamas, or maybe your niche is retirees that don’t adhere to a regular business-like schedule.

Research from third party sites can provide you with some direction, but it’s always best to test what works best for your business.

Test to see when your best send times are. Select a small group of contacts and send them the same email, but vary the time of day that you send it. See which email is most successful. Run the same test, but vary the time of day and frequency.

By testing your email campaigns, you’ll be able to zero-in on the best day, time, and frequency that works for your unique audience.



Gone are the days of mass emailing and one size fits all messaging. Marketers are smarter and savvier, and they know that sending an email to a targeted list of contacts is more successful than blasting the same email to everyone on their list.

Need proof? Marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.

To segment your customers into specific groups, you have to know your audience. The more information you can collect about your customer base, the stronger your segments will be.

You can segment your list many different ways, but you have to decide what will work best for you, based on the data you have about your subscribers.

Here’s a quick list of possible segments that you can break your list into:

  • Geography
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Industry
  • Position within a company
  • Seniority level
  • Buying behavior
  • Buying frequency
  • Salary
  • Education level
  • Stage in sales cycle
  • Interests/hobbies

With Campaign Monitor, segmentation is easy. You can create and name different segments and attach specific rules to each group.

For example, let’s say you want to create a segment called Managers in NY, and you want this segment to include anyone in your list with a title of manager or assistant manager that lives in NY. With a few simple clicks, you can have this segment created and ready to go.

You can start segmenting your list with these instructions.



How can you make sure your email campaigns land in an inbox and don’t  get trapped in a spam filter? It’s a good question, and one that’s not often discussed.

Here are four tips to make sure your email lands in an inbox:

  • Send authenticated emails
    You need an email service provider that offers email authentication. With this credential, your emails automatically bypass certain filters and give your email the best chance of arriving in an inbox. Fortunately, Campaign Monitor offers an email authentication feature for our customers.
  • Email with permission
    While it might be tempting to scrounge up email addresses online and send your next newsletter to new contacts, it’s not a good idea and violates the CAN-SPAM Act. To protect your email reputation, you should only send emails to people that have given you permission.That’s why it’s important to set up a double opt-in process. When someone signs up for your email list, a confirmation email is sent that requires the subscriber to confirm his or her subscription. This process will help protect you from fake subscribers and spambots and ensure only real subscribers are added to your list.
  • Avoid spam-flagging words in your subject line
    Subject lines that make offers that are too good to be true, overuse of punctuation or symbols, use of all CAPITALS, or having “FWD” in the subject line can raise red flags.

Who knew there was so much to consider before hitting the send button, right? It might seem like a lot to consider, but if you follow the best practices in this guide you’ll be well on your way to successful sending.

For more practical email deliverability tips, we’ve got an entire guide dedicated to helping get your emails delivered to the inbox.


Using automation to enhance your strategy

How do you scale your email marketing to its fullest potential while delivering the best experience for your subscribers? Two words: Email automation.

Campaign Monitor has a host of tools that can help you send emails automatically. You create an email once, and when subscribers meet certain criteria, which we call a trigger, the email is automatically sent.

For example, you can create a welcome email that’s automatically sent to new subscribers when they sign up for your list. The trigger, in this case, is the act of signing up. Your Campaign Monitor account detects the new name added and sends the welcome email that you previously created. You don’t have to log into your account and send individual emails to each new sign up; it’s already done for you.




Here are six additional ways you can use automation to improve your email marketing strategy without investing more time:


Gather feedback

After a customer makes a purchase, you can ask him or her for feedback. Whether you add a survey to the email, or encourage the customer to leave feedback on your website, you can set up a trigger so the email is delivered a few days after the customer receives the product.


Renewal notice

You can automate renewal notices so customers will sign up for your service once again. Let’s say a customer signed up for a one-year service agreement, and the year is almost up. Send a renewal notice one month before the agreement is about to expire to ensure the customer stays on.



Using a specific date as a trigger, you can send subscribers emails that coincide with birthdays, anniversaries, or other holidays. If you decide to send a special holiday promotion, consider setting the trigger date a few days early so the subscriber has time to use it.

Here’s a great example from Birchbox:



Appointment reminders

Don’t let “no-shows” put a damper on your bottom line; send an appointment reminder instead. It’s another automated email that you can send based on a date.


Nurture leads over time

You don’t turn a casual website visitor into a loyal subscriber overnight. You have to nurture leads, and walk them through your sales process. With automation, you can create a series of emails that cater to subscribers that are in a certain part of the buying process. The first email could welcome a new subscriber. A week later, an email could mention the benefits of your most popular service, and a week later you might offer a discount on that service with testimonials from other clients.

You can create all of these emails ahead of time, and send them to specific subscribers at certain points in the sales process.


Event/reminder emails

If you’re hosting a big event, you want to make sure attendance is high. To help, send a series of follow-up emails to those that have RSVP’d for an event. One email could be a reminder, another could ask subscribers to forward an invite to a friend, and a third could provide directions to the event and advice on parking options.

For more email automation advice, grab our free guide on the topic.


Tracking your success

Email marketing is one of the most measurable marketing options available. With an easy-to-use dashboard, you can log in and understand how your emails are performing.

For some, decoding email metrics can be a bit difficult. Not to worry. We’ll break down a list of metrics you should pay attention to.


Open rate

Open rate is the measure of how many people open your email. Open rates vary widely, but if your open rate is between 20-40% you’re doing a good job.

If you’re a Campaign Monitor user, look for your open rate in the Snapshot section of the Campaign Report.


Click-through rate

Click-through rate measures how many people clicked on a link, or a call to action, in your email. Again, these rates vary, but a healthy click-through rate is between 20-30%.

Campaign Monitor users can find this statistic in the Snapshot section of the Campaign Report.


Email visits

Email visits measure the amount of traffic that went to your site because of an email. This is an important metric for businesses looking to drive traffic to a website through email marketing.

You can link your Campaign Monitor account to Google Analytics and see this metric by selecting the Overview tab from the Acquisition section of the toolbar.


Email conversions

Email conversions measure the number of people that followed through with an action, like made a purchase or reserved a seat at your next webinar.

For businesses looking to increase revenue through email marketing, this is the money metric. It shows you how well your email marketing is converting subscribers into paying customers, and provides your return on investment.

To get this information, Campaign Monitor customers can log into their Google Analytics account and select the Overview tab from the Acquisition section of the toolbar.


Unsubscribe rate

The unsubscribe rate measures how many people opt out of your email list from a particular campaign. Your unsubscribe rate should be fairly low. Industry standards suggest an unsubscribe rate of 2% or less as a good benchmark.

Campaign Monitor users can find this rate in the Snapshot section of the Campaign Report.


Email marketing tips to increase your success rate

In this chapter, we’ll take the guesswork out of email marketing and provide strategic tips to help you increase your email metrics including open, click-through, and conversion rates.

How to increase your open rates

  • Test your subject lines
    When you send an email, your subject line is your pitch to get subscribers to open your message. If open rates are low, try changing your subject line. Run an A/B test to compare two different subject lines on a small group of subscribers and see which one does best, then use the winning subject line on the email that goes out to the entire segment.
  • Personalize the subject line
    Subscribers respond to personalization. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, so consider adding a subscriber’s name to a subject line, or promoting a list of hand-selected products based on a subscriber’s buying behaviors.For more email subject line tips, check out these 8 subject line formulas.
  • Consider your email frequency
    List fatigue is real. Subscribers can grow tired of your emails, so make sure your email frequency is in line with what your customers want. If you’re unsure, send subscribers a survey to identify the best email frequency.


How to increase click-through rates

  • Create an eye-catching call to action
    Design and copy of a call to action button matter. You want a call to action button that stands out, so select a color that’s not used (or rarely used) throughout your email. Use a two or three word phrase to encourage subscribers to click on it. Urgent, active words are best.
  • Include one call to action
    It’s tempting to add more than one call to action to an email, but it’s not in your best interest. Too many options can cause indecision, and a subscriber could close your email rather than click on a call to action. One call to action provides clear direction.
  • Test your call to action
    Just as we suggested testing your subject lines, you should test your call to action too. The importance of testing can’t be understated. By running a simple test, you’ll get valuable insight from your target audience.


How to increase conversion rates

  • Provide a value proposition
    An email should address what a subscriber gets and why he or she should buy from your company. Some businesses fall short on the later. An upcoming sale or a special deal on a product highlights what a subscriber gets, but why should he or she buy from you? To increase conversion rates, add a brief explanation to your email that sets you apart from competitors.
  • Make the conversion process simple for subscribers
    Subscribers want a hassle-free process. If a call to action encourages a subscriber to make a purchase, for example, make sure the checkout process is seamless. If a subscriber has to click-through a bunch of pages to find the item, add it to a cart and fill out a long form, you’ll likely see high cart abandonment rates rather than conversion rates. A subscriber should be able to complete the desired action in as few steps as possible.

By using these specific tips, you’ll be able to make calculated changes to your email strategy that can result in higher open, click-through, and conversion rates.