Email is a timeless communications channel. It’s been around for almost 50 years, and Gen Z through Baby Boomers still favor it for receiving messages from brands. While email hasn’t changed all that much over the decades, the way companies are using it to engage with customers has—and the clever ways they’re utilizing it are downright brilliant!

At Twilio SIGNAL 2019, Quizlet and Figma took the stage to share how they’re using email to drive customer engagement. Watch the video below for the whole interview, or scroll on down to see the 6 pro-email-sending tips we walked away with.

6 Pro Tips for Sending Better Emails

1. Use Data to Drive Engagement

Quizlet and Figma look at their email data to iterate and improve their programs, but they both prioritize different metrics.

Figma looks closely at their unsubscribe rates to make sure their content is high-quality and engaging.

“The thing I key on the most is unsubscribes—to really make sure the go-to-market team is sending value and keeping a high-quality bar for the brand,” says Toni Gemayel, Head of Growth at Figma.

“Internally, we look at the click-to-open rate, not just the open rate or the click-through rate.” Click-to-open rates are the percentage of people who both opened your email that clicked on a piece of content. Click-through rates show how many people on your entire recipient list clicked on a piece of content in your email (even if they never opened the email).

For help with rising unsubscribes, check out How to Remedy a High Email Unsubscribe Rate. And if the click-to-open rate is a foreign metric to you, take a look at What Is Click-To-Open Rate In Email Marketing?

Quizlet looks at the same metrics, but they put a more significant focus on deliverability. 

“Just getting into the inbox is the first challenge for us, so that’s why [deliverability] is the first metric we think about,” says Laura Oppenheimer, Marketing Director at Quizlet.

For help landing your transactional and marketing emails in the inbox, check out our Email Deliverability Guidewe update it every year to bring you the latest-and-greatest email deliverability tips.

2. Spice Up Your Transactional Emails

Marketing emails aren’t the only messages that get to have all the fun. To unify your brand messaging, invest time into creating transactional email experiences that are an extension of your brand.

“We don’t want to tell beautiful and engaging stories through marketing emails and then send you a plain-text email that tells you to reset your password,” says Quizlet’s Oppenheimer. “That’s an opportunity for us to infuse a little bit of liveliness and fun into an experience that isn’t always the most fun.”

Quizlet’s most-opened email (ever) is their “You Lost Your High Score” email. It’s an automated transactional message that Quizlet sends to user’s when someone beats their score, but it’s one of the most important drivers back to the site. At scale, transactional email can play a huge part in engagement and retention.

You can add a bit of personality here and there into your transactional emails, but be careful not to tread too far into the realm of marketing. Adding to much promotional content with links to various parts of your site can be a red flag, as well as silly subject lines that aren’t descriptive of what’s in the email. If inbox providers begin interpreting your transactional messages as marketing emails, they’re more likely to flag those messages as spam.

3. Small Improvements Drive Big Results

Quizlet’s Oppenheimer mentioned how important it is to make even tiny improvements in their email program. “At this scale, if we can make a 1% improvement in something, that can have a huge trickle-down effect across everything we’re doing.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we built the email ROI calculator—plug in a few numbers and see for yourself how a 1% improvement in your deliverability could impact your bottom line.

4. Segment, Segment, Segment

Segmentation is critical to sending emails that resonate with your audience. Both Figma and Quizlet talked about all the ways they personalize and segment their emails to drive deeper customer engagement. They also talked about how they generally avoid email blasts because of the different audiences they serve.

For example, Quizlet can’t blast out an email about studying for the upcoming AP exams when their UK audience doesn’t have AP exams.

5. Focus on Deliverability Starting Day One

Most businesses don’t start thinking about deliverability until they’ve hit issues. With the right email services, experts can fix deliverability issues, but it’s much better to focus on prevention rather than a cure.

Quizlet admitted that they didn’t have a ton of email experience starting off, and some of the decisions they made hurt their sending reputation and deliverability rates. “I wish we had known a little bit more about how deliverability works,” says Oppenheimer.

“There are no shortcuts to building an email list,” says Figma’s Gemayel. “You can’t push the boundaries on things like reputation. You’ll get slapped on the wrist very quickly.”

Email is complicated—we get it. If you’re new to the world of email and need some help getting started, check out the expert services we offer: bootcamps, implementation, strategy sessions, and more.

6. Invest in Email Design

“When executed correctly, email can actually be very sexy,” says Figma’s Gemayel. When asked what recommendations he’d give to new email programs or those looking for a refresh, Gemayel said, “Put a little bit of investment into your email design to differentiate yourself.”

Fortunately, you don’t need to learn code or hire an expensive designer to build beautiful email templates. Head over to our free email template gallery and find the design that meets your use case(s). If you need help converting that template into your brand’s own marketing or transactional email, watch Email Redesign: A Fresh Look at How to Create Simple, Stunning Emails.

Looking for more pro-sending tips? Whether you’re completely new to email or just looking to revamp your program, we’ve got all the tips, tricks, and best practices jam-packed in our Email Marketing Getting Started Guide. Learn everything from building your list to sending your first campaign to analyzing the results. Get started now!



Jesse Sumrak
Jesse Sumrak is a Content Marketing Associate at Twilio SendGrid focused on writing killer content and producing captivating webinars. A writing zealot by day and an ultramarathon runner by night (and early-early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.