How to successfully use email to reach your ideal clients

Email marketing can be a very effective way of reaching your ideal clients. If you’ve got an email list but you’re struggling to find the time to do anything with it, or you feel overwhelmed by it all, here are some tips from email marketing expert Emma Wilberforce from Extravis Marketing.

There is so much out there about how to get people to open your emails. From crafting clever subject lines to sending it at a certain time but, according to Hubspot , 64% of subscribers say that their main reason to open an email is because of who the sender is. 

You can do some fascinating things with email when you start delving into segmenting audiences and implementing automation, but here are some general things I would say make for a successful email strategy for businesses.

Be consistent

One thing I see time and time again is a lack of consistency. For those who have worked with me, I always bang on about consistent, regular and relevant communication, but for good reasons. If you’re consistent with your emails, people come to expect them and when they expect them, they’re more likely to open them.

Consistency is the key to success, not just for emails, but for any communication in your business, whether that’s social media or blogs. It’s also something that many businesses struggle with because people get busy and it slips to the bottom of their list.
I find the best way to combat this is to plan. You don’t have to write your emails out word for word, but give yourself a 3 or 6 month outline of what you want to say. Then block out time in your diary to get your emails written. If you don’t have time, outsource it!

Know your audience

There is a lot of information about the best subject lines to use or how to get people to open your emails but, when it comes down to it, people will open your emails if they know you. So, if you’ve built up a relationship with that person offline, or through other online channels, you have a much better chance of getting them to read your emails.

It’s about thinking about their journey. For someone new to your newsletter, chances are they’ve found you on social media, or their friend has recommended you or they’ve met you at an event. They’ve had a chance to build up an impression of you. If they like what you’re doing, they’ll sign up to hear more. They’ve already told you they want to hear from you!

The only people you should be emailing are your email subscribers. You can email customers, or past customers, ONCE because you have a legitimate interest in communicating with them, but always give them the option to opt-in, never just add them to your list.

There are companies that will sell “GDPR-approved” data to you. I strongly advise against buying these. No matter how compliant they claim to be, I can almost guarantee you will get very low open rates and more unsubscribes than anything else. Building your list organically might take longer, but it’s by far the most ethical and responsible use of data. If you don’t agree, perhaps remind yourself of GDPR.

Coming back to your audience, a lot of the work you need to do to get good open rates is to make sure you have enough great content on other channels to attract subscribers in the first place. Once they sign up, it’s then up to you to continue to deliver the content they’re expecting.

And remember each subscriber may be on a different journey, which is why segmentation is crucial. Knowing where each subscriber is on their journey means you can deliver the right content at the right time – that’s where email automation comes in.

Think about what you say

What you actually say to your subscribers has got to match with what they have seen and liked about you elsewhere. Remember that your emails are an extension of your other communications. A lot of people think they can get away with the hard sell in their emails. An excellent way to test content is to ask yourself whether it would make an engaging social media post? If you wouldn’t be prepared to post it on social media, don’t put it in your emails!

Make your content relevant to your audience. Stop thinking about what you want to say and think about what your target audience wants to know. It can be helpful to do regular features or have a structure to your emails, so it’s easier to read, and your subscribers come to expect certain things from you.

Also, keep in mind your primary aim for your emails. Is it to inform, or entertain? How can you present information in a way that keeps people engaged? Think about how the email is laid out. Even in free versions of email marketing platforms, you can create templates and use your brand colours to make it look good. Talk to a designer if you feel daunted by creating a template.

Give subscribers options

Don’t assume that because people have signed up, they want to hear from you every week. Give them options on the sign up form and let them decide what they want to receive. This approach also helps when it comes to unsubscribes because you can let them update their preferences rather than lose them altogether. Equally, if you say you do a monthly update, then deliver it monthly. Keep it regular.

Don’t overthink it

When you think about how to stand out, it’s like a lot of things in marketing, know your business values and stick to them. If you don’t know your business values, go and speak to a business coach.

Don’t try to be too clever and don’t obsess over subject lines. Write things that are useful, relevant or entertaining. Write in a way that represents your business. Be authentic. That’s how you stand out, by being you.

So, in summary, to be successful with email marketing:

  • Be consistent.
  • Build up content on other marketing channels as well as email.
  • Know your audience.
  • Deliver content that matches what your audience have seen elsewhere.
  • Only email people who have opted-in to your list.
  • Keep content relevant, useful or entertaining.
  • Consider features to add structure to regular emails.
  • Keep it on brand.
  • Give subscriber different options.
  • Stick to your business values.
  • Don’t overthink subject lines, just make sure you have one!

And if you get stuck, don’t have time or feel fed up with it all, outsource it to someone who loves email. That’s me!


Emma’s mission is to make digital marketing less scary and more doable for small businesses – giving you the tools you need to be in control of your online presence and get your brand noticed. She is passionate about organic marketing, which is all about building relationships with new and existing customers through low-cost (or even no-cost) things like social media, emails, and content marketing. Find out more on her website: