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6 top tips to boost your email marketing conversion rate

Email marketing conversion rates
How to calculate email conversion rate
1Segment and target your email list
2Use mobile-ready templates
3Shorten and personalize your subject line
4Optimize your email body
5Implement abandoned cart emails
6A/B test all email marketing campaign elements
Final thoughts

Every brand sends several different types of digital marketing emails. To reach customers at different stages of the journey, companies may send welcome emails, newsletters, transactional automations, post-purchase follow-ups and more.

Tracking the effectiveness of these is challenging because each recipient’s motivations for opening vary wildly.

So, how do you know if your email marketing efforts are working?

In this article, you’ll learn how to calculate email marketing conversion rates and segment your list. We’ll also cover how to optimize your communication for mobile, use templates to your advantage and test what you send to learn what converts better.

Note: To learn more about email marketing on mobile devices specifically, check out our guide to mobile email marketing best practices

How to calculate email conversion rate

Calculating your conversion rate for email marketing isn’t as straightforward as it seems because across-the-board benchmarks can be deceiving. A “conversion” can mean different actions depending on your email type.

For example, an e-commerce retailer may send a newsletter to nurture prospects at the top of the funnel, an e-book for leads in the middle and a discount promotional email for those at the bottom.

The conversions for each of these types may look completely different. A newsletter conversion could be “opens” whereas a discount email could be “click-throughs” when the customer clicks to copy the code.

Some of the main conversion metrics marketers track are:

Note: There are plenty of other email marketing metrics that marketers track, like bounce rates and unsubscribe rates. The above are specifically examples of conversion metrics.

Different types of emails also have varying average conversions. Some sources say it’s around 1% for newsletters, while abandoned cart emails are roughly 5%.

A “good conversion rate” also depends on your industry. For example, legal services conversion rates can be around 10% higher than retail.

Adequate rates even vary from business to business. A 6% conversion rate may be cause for celebration to one company and disappointing to another in the same sector.

Your ideal email conversion rate for email marketing, therefore, depends on:

  • The product or service you sell

  • The type of conversion you want

  • The industry you’re in

  • The stage of growth your business is at

  • Your overall business goals

Thanks to the varying meaning of conversions, marketers tend to measure them based on “desired actions”.

Here’s how to calculate your own average email conversion rates:

(Number of recipients who took your desired action ÷ total number of emails sent) × 100 = email conversion rate

Say you send a sales demo email to 500 recipients and 18 of them sign up. The formula would be:

(18 ÷ 500) × 100 = 3.6%

Once you have your base conversion rate, you can track the stages for website or app visitors to complete the desired action.

You can then use this information to inform decision-making and optimize all elements of your customer journey to boost this base rate.

1. Segment and target your email list

Different groups of subscribers will find that different email campaigns better meet their needs and interests.

Let’s say you sell artwork for commercial businesses. A restaurant group may only be interested in landscape photography, while a modern hotel likes abstract paintings.

You can split your email list into these groups and create targeted mailing lists that speak more directly to your recipient’s needs.

In this case, you might send two versions of a promotional email; one that highlights the landscape images on your site and another that focuses on the abstract.

The personalized nature of this segmentation can increase your email’s chances of being opened, read and clicked because you know you’re sending the right content to the right people.

There are several ways you can do this:

  • Demographics (e.g., sending content based on age, location, occupation)

  • The problem they’re trying to solve (e.g., sending more information to those who download your white paper on a particular subject)

  • Past purchases (e.g., suggesting similar types of products)

  • Website behavior (e.g., tracking and tailoring based on where people click)

You can use tools for this purpose. For example, Pipedrive’s email segmentation tool is built into your CRM (customer relationship management) software:

Email segment tool

Doing so gives your emails the best chance of converting as you’ve tailored them to each subscriber’s unique preferences.

2. Use mobile-ready templates

To maximize your email open rates, click-through rates, opt-ins and other important metrics, send professional and user-friendly mobile-optimized emails.

The use of mobile devices to open emails is growing. Before Apple hid open rates and other metrics with its 2021 Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), the iPhone was ranked #1 in email market share.

It can seem like a daunting task to optimize your emails for smartphones but mobile-optimized templates are an efficient option for marketers.

These responsive email designs will automatically detect a user’s screen size and optimize themselves for viewing on that device.

Mobile-optimization can include:

  • Adjusting font sizes to improve readability

  • Changing image sizes to ensure they fit on the page

  • Altering line spacing to help users better interact with the text

You can use templates as part of Pipedrive’s email marketing software to make building high-converting emails simple, intuitive and quick.

Manage email templates

3. Shorten and personalize your subject line

Your email subject line is the first thing a potential customer sees in their inbox and can greatly impact average open rates.

It needs to make a lasting impression on your email recipients and get to the point fast, especially on mobile devices where the system will cut long email subject lines short.

Different devices truncate subject lines at different lengths, so there’s no specific number to stick to. The best practice is to keep yours under 60 characters or around nine words.

According to Litmus, almost 71% of subscribers either glance at or skim emails, with only 29% bothering to read them for more than eight seconds.

Average amount of time spent engaging

Personalized emails can help to humanize your email marketing outreach and build connections. Beginning with personalization tactics in the subject line (e.g., including the customer’s name) can create a more impactful first impression.

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4. Optimize your email body

For users who get past your subject line and open your email, the next task is to optimize the content and body.

Once you’re happy with the wording of your email, you can look at the structure and format with the help of email building software. It’s important to consider different screen sizes when you do this.

For example, Apple devices automatically resize any font smaller than 12 pts, which could cause text to wrap differently than you expect and affect your design.

If you’re formatting your email copy and content manually, here are some tips to remember.

  • Bigger fonts are far more readable. Set your copy to 14 pts minimum and headlines to at least 22 pts for maximum readability.

  • Western users focus on the left-hand side of email content. When placing links and images, consider that most users interact naturally and easily with elements in an “F” shape on the screen.

  • Keep content concise for smaller screens. Use clear headers to break up large chunks of text and include bullet points and short paragraphs wherever possible. Position important information and statistics at the start of sentences for easier skimming.

Strong copy and clear design can help you hit your conversion goals, reduce bounce rates and unsubscribes, improve email deliverability and keep your emails out of spam folders.

You can use Pipedrive to track your campaign notifications and the efficiency of your email body:

5. Implement abandoned cart emails

The email type that consistently generates the highest total revenue is the abandoned cart email.

You must optimize your cart abandonment emails for all kinds of devices to maximize the chance of your customer returning to your online store and making a purchase.

Here’s how luxury fashion retailer Nordstrom boosts its average email conversion rate and return on investment (ROI) with these automated emails.

Nordstrom abandoned cart email

The content is short and snappy, with an image of the item in the cart.

There’s one clear call to action (CTA) to return the customer to their shopping cart so they won’t get distracted by anything else in the email. The CTA will take users to a landing page that recalls the purchases they abandoned.

Session regeneration (the technology that holds products in the cart even when a user leaves) across devices is important to make this strategy successful.

If a customer receives an email and clicks on the CTA only to find their cart empty, there’s a good chance they won’t bother to fill it up again.

The desired action for this type of email is for them to buy, so try to make it as easy as possible.

6. A/B test all email marketing campaign elements

A/B testing can help improve your conversion rate for email marketing by pinpointing specific improvements to your content and design.

Applying these tweaks regularly helps you send out more effective campaigns over time.

For example, segmenting Neurogan’s list and testing the best deals for its loyal audience resulted in an over 3% increase in revenue.

In practice, A/B testing involves sending two different email versions to figure out which performs better and increases conversions.

The variation can be as big or small as you like (e.g., the color of a button or content order). One “control” group should receive the original, while another receives the comparison.

You can A/B test all elements of your email marketing efforts, including variations of your:

  • Subject line

  • Call to action

  • Designs and illustrations

  • Content

  • Delivery time and day

  • Social media app and website links

Let’s say you sell organic pet food and want to trial two different types of subject lines with a group of email subscribers who have dogs.

You could try these two options:

  1. “Tail-wagging offer for [customer’s dog’s name]: savings inside!”

  2. “[Customer name], pamper your pooch with this special offer!”

Zapier AB testing

If you find that using the dog’s name converts 1.5% more customers, you may use this tactic more often in the future.

For successful A/B tests, pick small samples based on different demographics or behavioral segmentation and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Final thoughts

Implementing each of these email marketing strategy tips can give your marketing and sales teams the best chance of sending the right people the right messages at the right time.

As conversion rates can vary so widely, it’s good email practice not to read too much into averages and benchmarks. Instead, set a baseline conversion rate and try to improve it with data-driven analysis.

Along with manual optimization, email templates and marketing automation can be fantastic ways to get your email marketing up to scratch and achieve the conversion rate optimization you’re looking for.

Sign up for a free 14-day trial and see what Pipedrive can do for you.

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