A Summary of Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing

Part of our We-read-it-so-you-don’t-have-to Series:

While this post might seem a bit long, it pales in comparison to the email marketing guide it summarizes (156 slides). So I thought I’d save you some time and bring it to you in a digestible chunk (in brilliant Technicolor!).

Part One: What is engaging email?

By far, email marketing’s biggest challenge today is deliverability. Spam filters and consumer inattention are difficult hurdles to overcome. Even if you are able to get an email into your target customer’s inbox, they may either not open it or may immediately mark it as spam. The most important rules you have to remember as a marketer are to: segment, target and send at the correct time. This maximizes your chances of getting better open rates. “Batch and blast” is a thing of the past.

Part Two: Trusted

Spam content is determined by the consumer. If you are sending shady looking emails, they will not be opened. Consistency is key – send emails with the same branding and cadences, and be sure they are sent from familiar names. Making the “From” field a real persons name followed by their company will most likely increase open rates.


The best practice is to be 100% transparent about what you’re going to be sending someone.

Also, your email marketing lists should ALWAYS be opt-in. If I fill out a form to get an eBook, that doesn’t mean I want to be inundated with your webinar invites, newsletter, nurture campaigns, and product promos. Implicit (single) opt-in is great for building house-list volume, but can contain Spam traps and people who don’t necessarily want to be contacted. Sending an opt-in confirmation email can remove Spam traps. “Double opt-in” is best option for list quality, but you’re depending on the consumer to make the choice twice, and can lead to skepticism (are you really, really sure that you want to sign up for our emails?).

The best practice is to be 100% transparent about what you’re going to be sending someone after they have signed up. This will build credibility and create recognition right off the bat. After opt-in, maintaining list quality is key – be sure to proactively remove inactive leads and try to reengage ones that were previously engaged.

Part Three: Always Relevant

Engaging email marketing means talking to the right people and saying the right things. When a marketer correctly segments their entire database and sends emails that are specific to lead demographics/behaviors/interests, key performance indicators will undoubtedly skyrocket.

There are two types of segmentation, based either on who the leads that you’re contac

ting are, or based on what the leads have done. “Segmentation according to behavior is the single most essential tactic an email marketer can utilize to stay relevant.”

The better you get at this kind of segmentation, the better your email will perform. It’s relatively easy to understand: if you have a group of people who don’t open event invites, but always download your content, then stop targeting them with events. Instead, send them more content that will increase their interest in your business.

After segmentation, the quality of your content is the only way to engage your customers. You can have the perfect list of prospects, but if you send them mediocre content, then you’re sure to fail. The best way to boost email engagement is to make sure your content seems human. Humor, pop culture references and less-serious language will make your emails sound less like HAL from 2001. Each email should do one of four things for the recipient: make him money, make him smarter, solve his problem, or entertain him. If it isn’t doing at least one of those things, then it’s not going to have an impact.

Many companies have their own set of “best practices” that they swear by, but what worked for one company might not work for yours. Find out what works. And remember, this is a mobile age we are living in: 81% of people read email on mobile devices and 41% of commercial emails sent in 2012 were read on mobile devices.

Part Four: Conversations, Not Campaigns

Emails should be part of an evolving conversation with the lead. And a conversation, like dancing, takes two. You send out content, your leads open it. It’s important to send messages that flow into each other. Each step should logically flow from the last. There’s a better way to manage your conversations with customers than using the traditional flow charts. Marketo’s Engagement Engine creates an easy to use, powerful interface that will help you manage all your campaigns in one place. Automation makes personal conversations scalable.

Part Five: Coordination Across Channels

Customers routinely jump from email, to social media, to your website, to your 1-800 number and back to social media, all from one device without missing a beat. Marketers need to see this trail of events and note that that prospect is taking that much interest in your company. Content and offers should be consistent across platforms. For example, if there’s a promotion in an email, the customer should be able to go to your website and easily find that exact same promotion. Cross-channel communication is key.

Part Six: Strategic: The New Metrics for Emails

In most cases, executives couldn’t care less about open rates and click-through rates – they want opportunity growth, revenue impact, customer relationships and a better strategy than the competition. More time should be spent on email strategy than any other. The Marketo Benchmark for Email Marketing found that top performers spend more than three times the amount of time on email strategy than average performers do.

Marketo’s algorithm gives your emails and campaigns an overall rating. This ongoing measurement allows you objectively gauge the performance of your assets. If you are allocating your financial assets based primarily on channel performance, you are performing a great service for your client.

Marketo is clearly an industry thought leader and our summary hopefully gave you some great insights on new approaches, or reinforced your current approach.

Have any Marketo related questions? Feel free to comment below or Contact Us directly.

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Author Keith Jensen

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