Nine Email Marketing Musts

After revealing his four email commandments at HubSpot’s 2013 Inbound Marketing conference, Tom Monaghan, HubSpot’s email product manager, continued his presentation by sharing the nine email lessons he learned from HubSpot’s customers. What can I say? The guy loves his lists.

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“Be human,” Monaghan said to the crowd. “Send a real email.”

Not addressing a subscriber by his or her first name is one of the biggest mistakes today’s marketers make, Monaghan said. And this simple gesture can have a major effect on click-through rates. In fact, emails that include a recipient’s name have a 7% higher click-through rate than those that exclude it, Monaghan noted.

“A person is not just an email address,” he said.


Part of being human is interacting with other humans. Monaghan advised Inbound attendees to engage with their subscribers by communicating with them via a real email address, not a no-reply address.

“Encourage conversation with your recipients. Let people reply to you,” he said. “Don’t talk to the hand.”


You know that old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” More marketers should live by these words of wisdom and only contact their customers when they have something valuable to say—not when they’re scheduled to send an email. 

“Nobody is waiting by the keyboard for your Wednesday newsletter,” Monaghan said. “Send them a message when you have something awesome to say to them…Don’t fall into the very ‘nth day thing.”

But if a marketer is pressured to send weekly emails, he should at least know the right time to click send. Saturday is when emails attain the highest click-through rates, followed by Friday and Sunday, Monaghan notes. However, emails sent on Tuesday tend to have a negative correlation. But as with any form of marketing, Monaghan encouraged the crowd to do their own testing.

“Be prepared to figure it out and go your own way,” he said. “You might just have weird customers.”

Hanging on too long

“Breaking up is hard to do,” Monaghan said. “But I’ll tell you that the fastest way to improve your click-through rate is to get rid of the people who aren’t engaged.”

Monaghan said the best way to salvage a faulty customer relationship is to take a break. Marketers should refrain from contacting unengaged customer for three months, and then embark on a win-back campaign. During this time, marketers must continue with their inbound marketing so that they can highlight their best work when they reconnect with the unengaged subscriber three months later, he said. 

“Tell them you miss them. Ask them to come back. Send them an offer,” Monaghan suggested.

However, if the subscriber still doesn’t re-engage, it may be time to see other people.

Email does not come first

One of the most common problems Monaghan hears from email marketers is that they don’t know what to write about. Emails typically don’t provide enough value to stand alone, Monaghan noted; hence, marketers need to “do their homework” and create other forms of content–including eBooks, blogs, and videos–to bulk them up.

“Email is never the first part of the conversation,” he said. “Email is a method to move the conversation along.”

Spelling counts

Every marketer has made a spelling error at one time or another. But for Monaghan, the problem is a bit more severe.

“I couldn’t spell my middle name until I was in ninth grade,” he confessed. “It’s Joseph.”

But Monaghan said hitting the spell-check button is worth the minimal effort. Not only do spell-checked emails make marketers look smarter and help dodge spam filters, but emails with spelling errors experience a 0.6% lower click-through rate, Monaghan said.

Too much of a good thing

As Elizabeth Dunn noted in her keynote, “abundance is the enemy of appreciation.” And when it comes to graphics, Monaghan agreed that more isn’t always better. In fact, emails that contain one to eight graphics are five times more likely to generate clicks than an email that contains more than eight images, he said.

“You look spammy,” Monaghan said. “Graphics can be used beneficially but they’re not a guarantee…. Don’t be afraid to send a total graphics-free email.”

However, the one time more is better—aside from when it comes to ice cream—is when it comes to links, Monaghan said. He argued that providing more links gives people more chances to click-through and interact with content. Said the caveat: It’s vital that links direct customers to relevant content, not just homepages where they’re left to fend for themselves.


When it comes to emails, short and sweet is the way to go. Monaghan said that “wicked long emails”—remember, this conference took place in Boston—can result in an 18% lower click-through rate. In addition, recipients are less likely to read a lengthy email and get to the marketer’s personal closing that verifies that they are, indeed, human, he said.


But the one email metric that trumps everything else is engagement. Once someone opens an email from a sender, they’re more likely to open another, Monaghan said. These recipients also tend to be more forgiving when a marketer makes a blunder, he added.

To ensure that they do everything in their power to target these precious gems, marketers need to segment their engaged subscribers and send them specific, personalized content to build up the relationship.

“Do not send one-size-fits-all [emails],” Monaghan said. “Engagement is the king.”

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