More than a decade ago PC World proclaimed emails to be dead. Email marketing has been repeatedly killed for over five years, too. But, emails are not even comatose. And despite the explosion of social media and newer forms of digital marketing, email marketing seems to be holding its ground.

That said, it is also true that a lot of business emails go unread. Not just a lot, but the majority. This means marketers need to try even harder to plan focused, personalized email marketing campaigns. So here I offer a formula of 3Rs for email marketing to help you make the most of it. In a nutshell, you need to make your emails Responsive, Responsible, and Relevant.


Go through these stats:

  • More than 65% of consumers check their email on their smartphones. (Fluent)
  • According to CMS Report, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. In other words, UX design has a big impact on return on investment (ROI). 
  • Two in 3 Americans say they check their email at least a few times a day. 40% start their day by checking email right when they wake up. (Fluent)
  • Litmus’ State of Email 2017 found that 43% of consumers marked promotional emails from a brand as spam if the emails didn’t display or work well on a smartphone.

If these statistics haven’t yet convinced you about the benefits of responsive email marketing, you can read a lot more here.

Responsive design hides, stacks or collapses content in such a way that your emails become easier to read and more attractive. It gives you a better chance to display important content and call-to-action buttons. So, besides clarity and content, there is one more important benefit of using responsive emails: clicks. The more prominently your CTAs are displayed, the greater the chance people will click through and go to your website. Meh.

It’s very easy to create responsive emails and integrate them into your campaigns. Popular email marketing suites such as GetResponse include features that allow you to design beautiful and campaign-specific emails that fit all screen sizes.The best part is,you can create these responsive emails without writing a single line of code!

If however, you are into coding and have a knack for CSS and HTML, you can create future-proof, platform-independent responsive emails from scratch as shown in this tutorial.


Email marketing is a form of communication, and like all communication methods it too comes with a set of etiquettes. Everything from the headlines to images and the way you word your emails speaks volumes about your mindset and intent. As an email marketer you are expected to be more responsible and mindful of your manners.

The first rule of email etiquette is to be respectful of the reader’s time. Try to not be too long or too brief in your headlines. Don’t send out too many emails. Don’t promise the moon if you can’t deliver it. Don’t be lazy. The list is long and has been discussed all over the Internet, so I won’t waste your time repeating it here.

While these are some pretty basic guidelines, as the world grows increasingly digital and inter-connected, the rules and responsibilities seem to be growing by the day.

Check out the footer of this email. I used to receive emails from Elegant Themes every day and it was getting a bit too much. However, I didn’t want to unsubscribe either as some of their emails were really good.

So, when I saw this option to change subscription preferences, I was overjoyed! How very responsible and nice of them to give me the option to switch to weekly emails. It is not a new trick—lots of other companies do it—but it hits the spot just right; why everyone isn’t doing it?

Now look at the following example – you can’t make heads or tails of this email.

This is the exact opposite of responsible email marketing. It doesn’t respect my time, sensibility or intelligence, so despite the promise to “win” you know it is going to end up in junk.


One of the most important aspects of email marketing and also the most overlooked is relevance. Despite all the talk of behavioral data and personalization, inboxes seem to be inundated with irrelevant and inappropriate emails.

By relevant emails, I don’t mean sending out a personalized email with a ; rather I mean emails based on customer personas, location and time. It’s pretty irritating to receive an email that starts by wishing you a good morning when it’s late in the evening where you live!

I loved this email from Groupon and how it arrived just before a much-needed weekend. It was time-sensitive and smart. After a particularly exhausting week, I was looking forward to unwinding. It’s like somehow they knew!

The truth is, even if you don’t have a data scientist on your rolls or a smart, real-time analytics tool to play with, you can send relevant email marketing campaigns through basic human behavioral understanding. And this Groupon email is a shining example of that.

However, if you do have access to lots of user-generated data, like LinkedIn and Quora, you can take the game a notch higher. Knowing your users’ interests, preferences and circumstances allows you to send out relevant and highly personalized emails that offer the right content just the right time.

Taking a cue from social media networks, ecommerce websites are cashing in on behavioral marketing big time, too. They can send out personalized emails triggered by a host of events, including new user sign-ups, festival offers, abandoned carts, and large purchases, leading to perceptible increases in profits.

Remember: 37% of users are turned off by irrelevant emails (Relevancy Group), whereas Communicator Corp reports that personalized emails have a 75% higher open rate than those that don’t. Personalization also translates into reduced email unsubscribes and increased number of clicks.

In short, relevance dictates the success or failure of your email marketing campaign. You cannot afford to ignore it.

Over to You

Apart from these 3 Rs, I would like to add a 4th R to mix: Regularity.

If a business is not sending out emails and newsletters on a frequent basis, they run the risk of being forgotten. After all, what’s out of sight is out of mind! While that’s not a call to roll out your spam cannons, do continue to send relevant and responsive emails regularly and responsibly, and you’ll be good to go.

This article is by Rohan Ayyar from


Learn more from Sailthru about email marketing automation and email acquisition strategy here.