Improve Your Email Strategy by Q2


If you set only one professional new year’s resolution, consider making it this: to improve your organization’s email effectiveness as early as Q2 2015. Whether you’re new to the world of email marketing or a seasoned professional, whether email is a small part of your job description or you run a team dedicated to email strategy, the beginning of a new year is the ideal time to reflect on your current email practices and identify areas of improvement. Over the next 12 weeks we’ll take a deep dive into each aspect of successful email practices, and you’ll be equipped with the strategies necessary to elevate your own email tactics to better engage with today’s busy and always-connected constituent.

Why take on email, one of the (seemingly) easiest forms of modern communication? Because it works when implemented correctly. According to Gigaom and Extole research, email remains the most used digital marketing channel at 86% adoption and the most effective tool for myriad goals, including awareness (41%), acquisition (37%), conversion (42%), and retention (56%).

In my line of work, I subscribe to a multitude of federal agencies’ and organizations’ email newsletters, updates, announcements, and listservs, affording me a unique opportunity to see and analyze what works and doesn’t work across the gamut of government and nonprofits. I’ve identified five key areas in need of the most change. To kick off this blog series, I offer the following questions for you to ponder about your current email strategy related to these five areas, and we’ll examine the answers more closely in the coming weeks.

1. Are you making a spectacular first impression?
The welcome message is the first in what is hopefully a long relationship of messages. Does yours just say, “thanks for your subscription,” or does it set the tone for what your audience can expect from their subscription and lead them to relevant features and resources on your site?

2. What draws them in?
Your message does no good if it’s not opened. Do you taking advantage of the subject line, or do you treat it as an afterthought? Do you know what a preheader is, and do you use it wisely?

3. Does your content meet expectations?
One size does not fit all when it comes to email. Do you segment your audience and tailor your messages to your subscribers’ interests, or do you send a single message to your entire subscriber list every time?

4. How social are you?
“If you build it, they will come” only works in baseball. Do you intentionally direct your subscribers to your social channels with calls-to-action and incentives (and vice-versa)? Do you clearly invite your audience to share your content with their networks, or do you leave that decision up to fate?

5. Do you know your metrics?
Your data drive your success. Do you simply accumulate data, or do you actually put your data to use? Do you hit send with your fingers crossed, or do you hit send with confidence because you consistently test your messages?

I hope you start mulling over these questions now (and sharing your answers in the comments), and by the time Q1 closes, you’ll be able to identify and implement specific strategies to more effectively reach your email marketing goals.

Amber V Hammond is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Email is not dead! Long live email! 😉

Okay, so maybe not everyone loves email, but it’s definitely still the most effective means of communicating with the right amount of information (not too short, not too long) today.

Thanks for the tips, Amber!

Amber V Hammond

You are right, Andrew–email’s alive and well (and I want everyone to love email as much as I do!!). My real goal, though, is to at least shed a little light on how to make email less of a burden and more of a useful tool.

Tommy Bowen

Great post Amber! I’m definitely an email skeptic, not because it doesn’t work – it does as proven by data – but a majority of it is done so poorly! Your post sheds some light on why this may be and hopefully can help those missing the mark step back and take a long, hard look at why!

Amber V Hammond

Thank you, Tommy! I agree and hope these messages reach the right people so we’ll start seeing improvement in our inboxes in the year ahead.

Dave Barton

Amber, what’s your opinion on frequency for this type of communication? Is this a future topic? I regularly sign up to receive professional development-style newsletters, but I often find them distracting and overwhelming when I check my inbox.

Amber V Hammond

Hi, Dave — Great question! Timing (including frequency) is the subject of week three’s blog post. Stay tuned…

Victor Romero

Agreed! Email is a real dependable workhorse. We communications integrators must not lose sight of this direct communications tool at our disposal. Amber’s done a great job with this checklist!

Amber V Hammond

“Workhorse” is my favorite term for describing email, Victor! Thank you for your kind words about this checklist. I’m eager to share even more over the next few months.

Pamela Smith

I’m excited about this mini series. I have my notes ready in a Word doc and I am ready to learn!

Thank you, Pamela Smith

Amber V Hammond

Pamela — I’m excited that you’re excited! And I’m even more excited that you’re ready to learn. Feel free to ask questions along the way.


The metrics point hit closest to me. Outside monitoring open rates, bounces, and link clicks, what data should I look for, and how do I use it to make emails more effective?

Amber V Hammond

Thank you for your thoughtful questions, Louis. The metrics that should be most important to you will depend on your goals. I’m covering goals and testing in next week’s post and will bring the posts full-circle with a post on metrics in week 11. Stick around for the full details!