The Anatomy of Effective Email Marketing Campaigns

Published: 10 November 2015

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Anatomy of Email Marketing

The Anatomy of Effective Email Marketing Campaigns

Writing a marketing email can seem like a minefield and there are certainly no hard and fast rules as every audience is different. If you have decided on who is going to receive your message and researched and refined your email in readiness to fire off a blast aimed at that segment, you will want to be sure that poor copy doesn’t fall flat with your target audience.

Writing a marketing email can seem like an overwhelming challenge, particularly with so much conflicting advice online. It goes without saying that your approach needs to be tailored so it works for your specific audience but there are a few tried and tested techniques to give your email the best chance of avoiding the feared 'delete' button or indeed end up in someone's spam box.

Here are some tips to follow to write powerful marketing emails that achieve their objectives:

Choose your Audience & Tailor your Messaging

In previous articles, we've discussed how to segment your data into target groups so that you can be more direct and relevant with your email marketing. With the emails themselves, you have to put yourself in the buyer's shoes and ask 'what's in it for me?'

If you are marketing investment properties you should know exactly what information your buyers will be interested in and so you can get straight to the point in your emails. Highlight yield and ROI information, show the market dynamic that's supporting the investment and provide brief details of the area the real estate is located in.

If you're marketing to principal homebuyers you can adapt that approach and simply cut to the chase by answering any lifestyle questions they may have about the area such as where schools are located and what amenities are available locally.

By deciding who your reader is likely to be, early on before you even start writing anything, you can tailor your message and tone to appeal to them directly. Either way, give people direct answers to questions they are likely to have and if you can personalise your email with a prospect's name, even better. It almost always leads to more people opening your messages, and clicking on the links within them.

Consider your Email's Design

You need to decide if your email is going to be designed or plain in style. Do you want a high impact design with a strong banner headline, or more of a personal, one-to-one written communication? The style of email you choose will dictate the type of content you include.

If you go for a high impact design keeping copy to a minimum is key. Go for strong statements, supported with relevant imagery to catch the reader's eye and minimal copy. Your email should act as a teaser, encouraging recipients to click through to your website to read the full details.

A more personal, text-based email should appear as a direct one-to-one communication to the recipient and can include more copy than an image based email. 150 words and three paragraphs is the maximum length to stick within. Bolding key words, using sub headings and bullet points all help to break up the copy and make it more digestible to the reader.

Set the structure of your email

Choose a strong headline that summarises the point of your email. Keep it short and make sure it gets across the value of your email so people keep reading. Remember, emails are read from top to bottom so you need to get your message across from the start to encourage your reader to scroll down to see more.

Each email you send should have one purpose in mind, one specific call to action and ideally only one link destination. This gives your message a clear direction and makes it easy for the reader to understand and interact. Avoid crowding hyperlinks and try not to use more than three in one email. Use explanatory link copy so that your reader is clear where they are being taken if they click on it.

Images are sometimes slow to load on mobile devices and have to be 'enabled' to be seen in many email clients and so you don't want to make your marketing email hard work for the recipient to view. Images should support your main message, not overpower or distract from it.

Get straight to the point

Once you've written your email, read it over a few times and summarise where you can. Cut the waffle, avoid jargon wherever possible and try not to make exaggerated or unrealistic promises. Make sure you lead with a feature of what you're promoting and support that feature with a benefit, bearing in mind what your target audience wants to know.

You have just a few precious seconds in which the recipient will view your email and decide whether to read on or to discard it, so getting to the point as quickly as possible is crucial. The trick to being concise is to try removing words from your sentences. If the sentence still reads well and the message can be conveyed without them, then leave them out.

Include a Clear Call-to-Action Prompting a Next Step

Less is more when it comes to call-to-action buttons in your marketing emails – unless they are significantly different – and you should try to focus on one if you can for better results. Why should they act now? Try to add a sense of urgency and make sure the value is clear.

For example: If you're inviting your prospects to a real estate seminar or open house, make a summary agenda of the event before the call-to-action and ensure it is visible at the point where your prospect has become convinced to take action. Make sure the next step is any easy one. Offer to call them or invite them to reply to the email or click through to a relevant landing page and make sure a phone number is clearly visible. The easiest action to get someone to take is to get them to click on something!

Simplicity is key and you want to make it easy for your readers to engage with your opportunity so they are more likely to take the next step towards conversion.

Carefully Consider your Subject Line and Pre-Header

The subject line is the one thing that will prompt or dissuade readers from opening your email. You may have created the perfect email, but if your subject line is weak chances are your audience won't open and see your email.

The subject line needs to be short, clear and persuasive. Try to limit it to 50 characters and put the most compelling point first – you don't want your best bit to get cut off by the recipient's email programme. Think of it as a newspaper headline and aim to grab the attention without being too over the top and dramatic. Your subject line should tease and entice your reader to want to find out more about the contents.

When an email is viewed on a mobile device or in certain webmail apps like Gmail for example, there is another line of text that appears below your subject line called a pre-header. It helps to increase open rates by showcasing more of what's in the email. It enhances the subject line, prompting the reader to open the email by adding a little more detail. Try to limit the pre-header to 80 characters.

Subject lines are often an afterthought or created right at the end, just before the email is sent. But the subject line is one of the most crucial aspects of the email. For best results, plan your subject line and pre-header while creating your email content and ensure the consistency of the message follows through from the subject line, to the pre-header and to the main body of the email.

Stay Responsive with your Email Deployment

For the best results with your email campaigns, try to understand what devices people read your emails on, the best time and day to send them and who it should come from. This understanding comes from testing which we have covered in previous For Agents articles.

Send Times and From Names

The 'from name' you send your emails from can have a dramatic impact on your open rates. If an email is seen to come from an actual person, you are more likely to get more opens, every business and industry is different though, so testing is key to finding how your audience responds to different things.

Test sending emails at different times of the day and on different days of the week and send it from a real person's name instead of a company or function like info@ or enquiries.

Remember to keep all other conditions of the email the same when performing a test. That way, if you are testing the time of the day to send the email, for example, you know that it was infact the send time that made the email perform better and not a change of subject line, email creative or other aspect.

Emails that are built with mobiles in mind are undoubtedly going to perform better than those that are not. More than 50% of our readers open their emails on mobile devices, so it is absolutely essential to appeal to that audience.

Social interaction

It's always good to use every opportunity to promote your social network pages and marketing emails provide the perfect platform to increase your following by simply positioning social buttons in the content of your email and encouraging your email recipients to follow you on social networks.

This is of particular benefit in an industry such as real estate where your prospects may be a long way from making a final decision to buy and so in the meantime, you can nurture the prospect via social channels if they are presented with the option to follow you.


Because you know your local property market so well, it's the easiest thing for you to put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and identify your target audience. The trick to successful email campaigns is quickly establishing you have something your reader wants so they are engaged enough to find out more.

If your prospect is actively seeking a family home in your area and they see in the subject line there's an offer that's specific to their search criteria, they're more likely to open your email for more information. If they quickly see you have what they want available NOW, they will want to take the next step and click on your call-to-action button. has significant expertise in the area of digital marketing within the specific arena of international real estate. Over the years we've been established, we've come to understand very clearly what works and what doesn't when it comes to email marketing campaigns. By following our tips and techniques, you'll see a great improvement in your success rates and improve your marketing ROI.

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