How to Improve Your Email Marketing ROI

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Email isn’t simply a communication tool.

It is a powerful marketing tool and one that has been harnessed successfully by leading marketers to deliver billions in sales over the years. But, it is interesting that when most people hear about email marketing in the 21st century, the first thing that comes to their heads is “really?” Email marketing is also associated with spam and other negative ideas.


There are entire books written about email marketing but the focus of this article is return on investment. Powerful Email marketing platforms exist to offer the best return on investment.

The return on investment from content marketing comes through email. A lot of the power of email is the content behind it. Like social, email is just a vessel to have conversations or to share good content. The return on investment is typically attributed because of email.

The Direct Marketing Association says that for every dollar spent on email marketing, you should get about $28 back. Now, that is massive and comes as quite a shock to many people.

There are a number of strategies that are guaranteed to improve your email marketing ROI.

But before we get into it, let’s first dissect return on investment a little bit. To change ROI, you can either change the upper line or bottom line, that is, increase your revenue or decrease your expenses. You can increase your revenue if you are doing better than you were before. You can decrease your expenses by sending emails to fewer people and only sending to those people who can possibly take an action.

So, let’s look at two ways to improve your coveted ROI:

  1. Improving Inbox Placement

The dirty little secret of email marketing is that just because you sent it doesn’t mean it went anywhere. So, you think you are sending to a hundred people and 85 of them get it in the inbox, another 5 might get it in their junk folder and then the rest go nowhere. This is not a bounce, not an “address does not exist“, not a quarantine …this is literally just Gmail thinking you look fishy and it just isn’t your day. After all the painstaking work of putting together that newsletter, sometimes it simply doesn’t get there.

Now, this is a problem because it means your open rate, conversion rate and all other metrics will not be accurate since 15% of the emails simply vanished. So let’s assume you have a 20 percent open rate. What if the 15% also opened the emails at the same open rate of 20 percent? The actual open rate would then be 24%. You just weren’t getting to 15% of your audience and are losing money. You are spending money to send an email to these people and they are not getting it. So, it is sometimes worth the time or investment to make sure that you are playing by the rules to get into the inbox. As a beginners I’m sure kind of get the idea of that, it isn’t a good idea to say free several times in all caps with 20 exclamation marks and “50 percent off” sign in red and bold. So, if you follow some of these best practices you are already impacting the bottom line. Simply getting through to people you did not know you weren’t getting through to can improve your return on investment by a big margin.

  1. Trimming Inactive Subscribers

The second way to improve your ROI is a list cleanse where you reduce the number of subscribers that aren’t engaging with you. This improves your ROI by reducing your expenses. Remember, you are being charged to send out these emails and it makes no sense to send emails to people who are not clicking, opening, interested or maybe have even changed email addresses. Trimming inactive subscribers is a two part process. You begin with an initial email and week later you look at who hasn’t engaged. The second part is where you send a “last chance” or “don’t miss out” email. It’s really important to give your customers a reason to stay with you. If they are not clicking, maybe they don’t realize they are missing out on something. Prompting them with an email of this nature sometimes spurs them into action and they engage. It is estimated that you could probably jolt about ten percent of inactive subscribers into action with a a last chance email offer.

Many small businesses rarely cleanse their lists on a regular basis and this ends up giving them bad metrics about their campaigns. Trimming the list calls for a brave heart because it means admitting that some subscribers to your list may never amount to much.


Hope the figures from the Direct Marketing Association have made you think. Not many content marketing channels can give you that kind of return. In fact, one of the challenges of social is measuring ROI. You are never quite sure what you are getting back for every dollar you put in with social. But, as you have seen with email marketing, the least you should expect from every dollar is $28 back. And, by applying these strategies, you can improve the ROI further. So, dive in and put these tactics to work.