How 7 Businesses Improved Their Email Marketing Campaigns

by Sherice Jacob

Last updated on March 19th, 2018

Although some marketers and analysts love to declare that “email marketing is dead” – nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes, the old-style of top-down, one way email communication is dead, and has been for some time.

If you’re still struggling with a low open rate, a dismal click-through rate (CTR) or wondering “where did I go wrong?” these seven businesses might provide some inspiration.

Improve Deliverability Rates

According to a MarketingSherpa case study, TBC, a tire corporation with numerous online brands improved its email deliverability from 60-99% by following a few basic steps.  The first was to get a dedicated IP address.  When you’re using an email service provider like aWeber or Constant Contact, you’re putting your reputation into the shared hands (and IP addresses) of other companies and marketers – some of whom may be unscrupulous marketers or scummy spammers.

   improve email marketing

TBC markets a variety of tire brands via carefully segmented email lists

Email newsletter example

An example of one of TBC’s high converting emails

While email marketing providers do their best to shut down offending lists, they can’t detect every problem, and subsequently, your quality score may also be affected – particularly considering the fact that large email providers like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo track and ban offending IPs regularly.

If you have a large subscriber list (several thousand subscribers), don’t risk your reputation getting lumped in with bad email neighborhoods.  Contact your web host to discuss the specifics and best practices for setting up a dedicated email server.

Their second step is something all email marketers should do regularly and that is to cull the list.  Separate active subscribers from inactive subscribers – but don’t neglect the latter.  Instead, after scouring incorrect and bounced addresses, gently cultivate the list by sending fewer emails and making the offer worth the customer’s while.

TCB’s results speak for themselves.  Among active subscribers, deliverability hit 99%, and 90% among inactive subscribers, while spurring as many as 5% of inactive customers to click.  For a million dollar business, those numbers are definitely something to be proud of!

Action Steps

  • If you have a large subscriber list, consider discussing dedicated IP address options with your web host or email service provider.  If done right, this can protect your sender reputation and increase deliverability rates.
  • Separate active from inactive subscribers – Nurture inactive subscribers by reducing the frequency and increasing the value of the emails they receive.  Active subscribers already want to receive your messages, so time your offers accordingly.

Increase Email Click-Through Rates

Once you get the email to the inbox, the battle for the customer’s attention isn’t over yet – in fact, it’s just starting.  Your offer needs to be engaging, relevant and credible.  As profiled on Hubspot, Indie-inspired vintage clothing retailer ModCloth is one of the best examples of how a creative email campaign can drive clicks and sales.

Here’s one example in which they use a “style quiz” to help determine a customer’s individual likes and tastes, so they can segment and market to their lists accordingly.  What makes this so innovative is that most people wouldn’t take a “marketing survey” but they’ll readily try a quiz to get some kind of customized result.

 improve email deliverability rates

ModCloth’s Style Whiz Quiz gathers valuable customer data in a fun, creative way

Another example shared in the same article is UncommonGoods, a retailer of unique and interesting gifts and gift ideas for various holidays.  For a Mother’s Day email announcement, they used customer testimonials about their gifts to help promote and inspire confidence that the gift-giver was making a smart choice for their loved one.

By following this path, the resistance to “buying something” is lowered considerably, since it’s the customer doing the selling instead of the company.


UncommonGoods uses familiar “star” ratings and reviews to highlight unique
gifts in its holiday email campaigns

Action Steps:

  • Find ways to turn your customer data acquisition into something more inviting and fun, such as a quiz with a customized result.  Your customer learns more about their buying habits in a more personal way, and you get the information you need to improve targeting and relevancy.
  • Look for ways to leverage social shares, customer reviews and ratings into your email campaigns.  People are strongly influenced by the experiences of others, so using this to your advantage can help sway many customers who may be sitting on the fence about buying or taking action.

Encourage Exclusivity and Impulsivity

Media lifestyle site Urban Daddy has uncovered a sweet spot that reminds users of the perks of being a member.  When shoppers can’t find hip, in-demand items elsewhere, Urban Daddy Perks newsletter makes sure to let its members know that it has them covered.  In this email, not only do they announce that they’ve got an exclusive color for Perks members, but they also make it clear that no one else will be showcasing this footwear any time soon:

 exclusive email list

Urban Daddy Members: $35, Everyone Else: Impossible

The $18,000 Email

Email marketing provider Vertical Response also came up with a brilliant idea that increased their conversions and orders significantly.  They promoted a Groupon-style deal on email credits, which are used to send newsletters through their system.

 Groupon style email template

With Vertical Response’s Groupon-style deal, not only could you buy email credits at up to half off,
but the company would also match them up to 1,000 credits

This splash page incorporated all the elements of a good flash deal:  shareable coupon codes, significant savings and a deal too irresistible to pass up.  They also featured a countdown timer to encourage customers to snap up the deal.  According to Shebang Design, the resulting email campaign earned VerticalResponse over $18,000 in revenue.

Action Steps:

  • Learn from marketing success stories outside your own industry and look for ways to incorporate what’s working for them into your own message.  No one thinks of Vertical Response when it comes to daily deals, but everyone knows and appreciates real, limited-time savings.
  • Remind subscribers how much you value their membership (even if it’s free) by presenting exclusive perks that would be difficult or impossible for others to get.

Go Hyperlocal with Email

Hyperlocal (also known as microlocal) websites are quickly catching on with shoppers and casual browsers.  These highly targeted, highly segmented sites pinpoint things to do in a specific region or for a specific audience.

Hyperlocal email works in a similar way.  If you’ve spent time segmenting users by geographic location, such as Sears did with this winter storm warning message, you’ll greatly increase the number of conversions you receive from users in that area by offering timely products and services they can use right away:

 geographically targeted email

A winter storm email targeted to the northeastern U.S. as they gear up for blizzard-like conditions

But geographic targeting isn’t the only good use for hyperlocal promotions.  Business review site Yelp has done a great job not only segmenting users by location, but also by interest.  If you’re looking for a place to eat in Buffalo, New York, but you’d rather pass on world-famous Buffalo Wings, there are plenty of user-reviewed vegetarian eateries to satisfy your appetite!

 Hyperlocal email marketing

The Weekly Yelp Profiles Interesting and Unique Places in Your Area – All User Reviewed for
Greater Credibility and Trust

Action Steps

  • Look at customers as more than just market data to be filtered and sorted through the system.  Find out their interests, what they value, and what they’re passionate about, and you’ll make loyal customers and buyers for life.
  • If you cater to local customers, look for ways to weave in events, news or even the weather with your product.  Obviously this won’t fit with every market, but for those it does, the outreach will be perceived as helpful and authentic which are benefits that can’t be bought.

By following the lead of these seven email marketing savvy companies, you can improve email delivery rates and conversions.  You’ll also lower your cost-per-subscriber and cultivate thriving relationships with your customer base.

With some smart changes in the way you market via email – everyone wins!



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Sherice Jacob

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting


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  1. August 30, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Thanks this is a wonderfully helpful post about email marketing. Excellent share it will help most people.

  2. Mike Sweeney says:
    April 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Sherice,

    Always enjoy reading case studies. You hit on two big points I’m working on myself. Deliverability and Click through Rate. The graphics really help drive those points home. I’m also starting to incorporate video emails into my marketing. Have you heard of Pure Leverage?

    It’s a new marketing tool suite that offers video email, auto responder, lead capture system and more. Tools they use for their own marketing company that they have recently released. Definately worth checking out when you have the time.

    Mike Sweeney

  3. April 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    thank for share this information.

  4. March 18, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Thanks again Sherice for sharing this post with us. I have created some hyperlocal websites for myself. These websites gives a new definition towards local search marketing.

    • Sherice says:
      March 18, 2013 at 7:41 am

      You’re absolutely right, Debarshi! The great thing about hyperlocal is that it lets you build up your authority and expertise quickly. Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. March 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks Sheric for an awesome post! Loved it. Case studies/references have always been great tutor. & thanks for gatherring all 7 in one place. I liked the way of data acquisition with something more inviting and fun. And also leveraging customer reviews/ratings into email campaigns. Planning to give it a try. What say?

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