Get email clicks by writing the right kind of emails

It’s frustrating when you spend time and money building a list of leads, only to wind up with a bunch of subscribers who ignore all your emails. Email marketing can be incredibly effective, but a lot of brands make common mistakes that hurt their click-through rate (CTR).

Thankfully, there are things you can start doing right now to ensure that every email you send is more effective.

Here are four tips to improve your marketing emails.

1. Segment your email list

Pastors, church secretaries, ministry leaders, and volunteers all have very different aspirations, problems, and needs. But without segmenting your email list, your emails treat all these people as if they have the same role. You can’t focus on one of these roles without alienating the others. And your email performance will reflect that.

You might be able to address them all, but you shouldn’t try to address them all at the same time, in the same email, with the same messaging. A volunteer probably isn’t going to open an email that’s written to a pastor, let alone click on your call-to-action.

Some organizations use their email capture forms to segment their audiences, but you can also do this with a welcome email (the first ingredient in every good drip campaign). And segmenting doesn’t have to be about a person’s role, either. You could segment based on interests (or types of content you can offer), such as:

  • Church leadership
  • Bible study resources
  • Sunday school lessons
  • Ministry advice

Depending on your product or service, it might also be appropriate to segment your list based on how people interact with it. This is a more advanced form of segmentation, and it lets you address the features, situations, and problems your subscribers are most familiar with. It’s also a great way to draw people back in when they stop using your product.

Here’s what ProdPad (a product management software) sends to people who open the program and leave without doing anything:

Onboarding email example


This light-hearted email catches people’s attention by addressing their actual behavior, and then encourages them to either reopen communication with ProdPad or get back into the program.

By writing your emails to specific segments of your list, you ensure that your emails are more relevant, and therefore, your audience is more likely to open and click. The volunteers on your list won’t get emails written to pastors, and visa versa.

2. Start with your goal

Every email should have a purpose. You should never send an email if you don’t have an answer to “Why are we sending this?”

Whether you want people to go to a landing page, watch a video, call you, or something else, your entire email needs to directly connect to this goal—or else when people get to your call-to-action (CTA), they won’t click. Because they weren’t expecting it. The rest of your email didn’t warm them up for it.
Imagine you’re reading an email with some great Bible study tips. You learned some valuable insights you can start applying to your own study or bring to your small group. But when you get to the end of the email, it tells you to sign up for a webinar about church accounting software.

Wait, what?
The purpose and content of that email aren’t aligned at all. Now imagine if that email ended with a link to read more tips. Or a resource to help you do better Bible study. Or, what if the content of the email had talked about how hard it is to keep track of financial records, or what happens when your church software doesn’t integrate data? The content could even focus on stewardship of church resources.
Suddenly the email makes a lot more sense. And when your emails make more sense, they get more clicks. Irrelevant CTAs are a guaranteed way to kill your click-through-rate. The more relevant your CTA is, the less friction there is between your audience and your desired action.

3. A/B test everything—seriously, everything

Here’s the problem with most tricks to improve click-through-rate: they aren’t universal rules. You have to test every change to know whether it made a difference for your list. And the only way to do that is with A/B tests.

A/B tests compare variations of your email to find the one that gets the best results. And here’s where most A/B tests go wrong: you have to test one variable at a time to know what made the difference.

If you want to find the ideal button color for your brand, you can’t test an email with a blue button against a completely different email with an orange button. If they have different subject lines, messaging, images, or anything else, you can’t say for sure that it was the button color that increased your CTR. (Oh and by the way, it’s not the button color that makes the difference, according to NASA.)

Here are some things you should A/B test regularly:

  • Subject lines
  • Email length
  • Messaging
  • Images
  • CTAs
  • Email frequency

You don’t have to test every variable for every email, but if you want to improve your click-through-rates, you can’t let optimization fall by the wayside.

4. Know your audience

These are tactics that every email marketer needs to use. Beyond these, it’s fine to experiment with tips and tricks that fit with your brand and are relevant to your list. You’re bound to find all kinds of things that worked for certain people in certain situations. Some of them may work for you. Others won’t. And that’s OK.

In the end, the most important thing is that you know your audience. You need to understand them well enough to expose the overlaps between their needs and your services. Low click-through-rates are a symptom of not knowing your audience well enough—of sending the wrong messages to the wrong people.
Inversely, high click-through-rates are a good indicator that you’re sending the right messages to the right people.

So before you write your next email, take the time to ask yourself: “Who am I talking to?”