Do you ever feel like creating an email is a bit like playing a game and winning is a moving target?

To help you reach the finish line, we’ve created a training plan we’re calling Play the Game of Email that takes you through 3 levels of email marketing optimization and breaks down all the steps you need to take when creating a marketing email.

Not ready to play the full game? I’ve pulled out a tip from each of the levels so you can quickly read some tips that will help you improve your email program today.

Level 1: Use a clean email marketing list

Never buy or rent email lists because the lists do more harm than good. You risk your brand and sender reputation, open yourself up to possible spam traps, and could end up having your email account shut down altogether.

There are lots of ways to create an opt-in list of email subscribers, some examples include:

  • A subscription prompt on your website
  • As part of your transaction process
  • An opt-in field (i.e. un-ticked checkbox) on your landing page forms

Only send email to recipients who have opted in to receive your email because these are people that want to hear from you!

Level 2: Perfect your subject line and call to action

How can you boost engagement with your subject line? Consider the following:

Keep it simple – it’s likely people will read your subject quite quickly, so be clear and concise. Think short and sweet over too self-explanatory.
Try opening with a question – it can pique curiosity and enters you into an instant dialogue, making the recipient more likely to open your email.
Personalize – but think beyond first names, what detail do you have about the recipient that you can include in the subject line e.g. location.

Tip: the pre-header text should be the next focus area after the subject line. Don’t waste this space, this text usually comes up with “Email not displaying correctly? View in your browser” message, instead use this space to further engage your recipient to open up your email.

Once you’re done with your subject line and body copy, don’t forget the call to action (CTA). To optimize your CTA, consider the goal of your email, and what action do you want your recipients to take with your email?

Also remember to:

  • Focus on the placement – where on the email do you want it to go, and how many. You can use multiple CTAs, but we recommend using 1 or 2.
  • Think of the wording – be clear and direct about what action you want your recipient to take.
  • Consider the design – the colors, button or plain text, or both.

And don’t just send your email to your entire list, segment your email list by demographics, geography, or past behaviors. Use the information you have about your subscribers to create targeted campaigns. The more your email resonates with your subscribers, the more likely they are to engage with your emails and take action.

Level 3: Measuring your performance

Finally, once you’ve sent out your email marketing campaign, there are many ways to measure the success of an email campaign. Here are a couple of metrics to consider measuring regularly:

Open rates – this will tell you how many recipients read your email. The open rate is how you know whether your subject line was successful.

Click rates – this is when someone opens and clicks on a hyperlink. A high click rate is a good indicator of a good CTA and preceding content.

Unsubscribes – these occur when a recipient opens your email and decides they don’t want to receive your emails anymore. Make sure you are removing these people from your email list quickly.

Feedback loops -you’ll be able to see who marked your email as junk with this data so it will help you keep your list clean.

If you want to see how your email program stacks up against the rest, check out our 2018 Global Email Benchmark Report for an in-depth breakdown of all of the stats above for over 15 industries.


The above tips and best practices are only one of several that we’ve laid out in SendGrid’s Play The Game of Email. Head on over to full game to make sure you’re not missing a beat with your email marketing campaigns.

Jamila is SendGrid’s Marketing Manager responsible for all things marketing within the EMEA region. Born and bred in London, and with a love of traveling, you will often find her trying to escape the bad English weather.