10 Ways To Go To The Head Of The Class With Email

Go to the head of the class with your email marketing!

Like a caring and doting father, I am always trying to get my two college-attending daughters to focus on their grades and go to the head of their class! Not a conversation passes, that I try to get them to answer my call to action in a number of different, strategic and carefully crafted ways. It’s sort of a game at time, like one of my old favorite 1960’s games Go To The Head Of The Class. I guess that I could just mandate them to tell me, but that would not be as fatherly as I want the situation to be!

How Does A Business Go To The Head Of The Class With Their Email Marketing?
This  conundrum got me thinking to show businesses, both small businesses and big brands how to easily assess and score their email marketing techniques, so THEY could go to the head of the class. Over the years, I have worked with some award-winning digital advertising agencies like imc2, Digitas and Whittman-Hart (and not so award-winning agencies). I created and evolved an in-depth and very useful email assessment tool to help analyze email communication for Pizza Hut, Carnival Cruise Lines, Sanofi and many others to help them reach more recipients, get these recipients to open more emails and then get them to click through to registration sites and other value content.
There Is A Scoring System To Help You Assess Your Email Marketing
I wanted to create an easy to use scoring system to help you assess if your email scoring with your target audience! But I thought to myself, hey … I am an social media guy now, so where is this email advice coming from? Well, marketing is marketing and we need to understand how to connect with the right customer with the right channel with the right message at the right time! So, here is some relevant email advice, for when email is the best tool to use!
Get Started With Your Email Self-Assessment!
First, take look at your last five emails that you created and check off if you “delivered” on each of the ten questions below. Next, check off each bullet that applies to you successfully doing with your emails. Then add up your score and determine you a a D, C, B or A “student” and should move to the head of the class!

Good luck with the test!

1. Delivery

  • Delivered to the inbox (vs. being bounced)
  • Includes a prominently placed white list request to ensure your recipient will receive future emails without a problem
  • Sent at regular intervals to build up a sense of expectation from your recipients
  • Delivered to the inbox at an appropriate and optimal time of day/time to maximize the open rate and further engagement

2. From Line

  • Clearly identifies you or your company as the sender
  • Instantly recognizable to subscribers so they will be more likely to open it (hopefully!)
  • Contains both a display and an actual from address so your recipients know that they are not receiving SPAM
  • From addresses are consistent from send to send to help you build up a sense of trust

3. Subject Line

  • Under 49 characters, since research shows greater open rates with a certain amount of characters in the subject line
  • Clear, engaging, benefit-oriented and communicates value and relevant to the recipient
  • Align with the first sentence of the email, so you are “telling a story”
  • The email newsletter subject line doesn’t sound “spammy” or “salesy”, promoting the company solution vs. addressing the pain point or promoting valuable information

4. The Preview Pane

  • First line connected to the subject line and clearly communicate the value proposition
  • Pull the reader in without them even opening it (this is one of the most import task you must perform for your email!)
  • Includes a recognizable and prominent name, graphic or logo
  • Includes a link to view the email on a mobile device and an online version, to ensure you are engaging with your recipient on their terms

5. Important First Impression

  • Engaging and powerful opening paragraph specific to the issue that you are communicating in your email
  • Comes from a source that can truly help the recipient address his/her needs
  • Calls out the subject matter experts or authors of the content that will be able to be accessed by engaging with the email
  • Calls out 3 or 5 key take-aways from attending or downloading information (e.g., case studies, reports) and explains why they are important to the recipient

6. Customer-centric design

  • Engaging to the eye and draws the reader in to the key messaging; being very understandable in the first three seconds of viewing
  • Uses bullets and bolded sub headlines to clearly articulate the email’s key points
  • Aligns with the look and feel of the landing page, where you are directing the call-to-action clicks
  • Includes multiple links and buttons to drive clicks at various points in the reading experience

7. Content and Tools of Engagement

  • Benefit-oriented content that reiterates the value proposition and is written in an engaging manner
  • Integrate 4-5 links in the body of the email to drive engagement
  • Contain factual, tangible and valuable information that supports the promotional goal
  • Is there a contact me now to ask a question about the topic in the mail … even hoping to integrate it in the webinar or event agenda

8. Your Business Goals

  • Is email alone the best way to connect with your customer (have you thought of social media?
  • Content supports this business goal 100%
  • Includes multiple calls to action
  • Call out to follow relevant social media channel in case there is interest from the recipient, but not to attend right now
  • Calls to action are effective but not “pushy.”

9. Footer

  • Provides ability to allow readers to unsubscribe or manage amount of emails received
  • Provides a link to a subscription management page where subscribers can update their email address or change their preferences.
  • Includes U.S. Postal Service address, phone number, social media channels as alternatives ways to connect with for your company

10. Other

  • Deliver on the expectations of the recipient, for what he/she signed up for (i.e., timing messaging, topics, content)
  • Contain “forward to a friend” and “share to social” call-to- action to encourage viral marketing
  • Confirmation email customized to your event (i.e., not a generic email) within 24 hours of registration
  • Confirmation email contain a link to a blog or other supporting information that the recipient might find useful prior to the event
Now, score yourself! If you checked 40 boxes, they you have a 4.0 and can go to the head of the class! If you checked between 30 and 40 you have a grade in the B range (e.g., 32 = 3.2, which is a B) and so on and so forth.
Grading yourself is just a start. Now you need to figure out what to do to change your email program to work harder for you. There are many parts to my advice included in the above scorecard. If you have a question about how to effectively use email, please leave a comment on this MarketingThink blog post, contact me from this blog comment tab or reach out to me on Twitter at @GerryMoran
Now, i have to get back to thinking fo creative ways for my daughters to work toward the 4.0 and moving to the head of their class ! Perhaps a checklist like this might help. Hmmmmm.
Gerry Moran


  1. Ted Gaines

    Thanks Gerry,

    Good list, and a useful practice!

  2. admin (Post author)

    Thanks for the input Ted! Hope all is well!


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  7. Caitlin Hopley

    My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs… But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on a variety of websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform… I have heard very good things about blogengine.net… Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it??? Any help would be really appreciated! Raleigh Roofing, 3221 Durham Dr., #101-C, Raleigh, NC, 27603, US, 919-701-6300

  8. Gerry Moran (Post author)

    Hi Caitlin,

    I don’t know anything about Blogengine.net. However, my advice is to keep your platform simple. You need to be able to have a platform that can help your blog get found on search. You also want a blog platform that gives YOU widget flexibility. Ask other bloggers and not a developer on the best platform to blog and you might get different answers.

    I think the importing would have to be post by post … but not sure.

    Good luck!


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