5 Email Growth Hacks

Get creative with your email marketing and see immediate results.

Unless you’ve been hiding out under a marketing rock over the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “growth hacking” in some way, shape, or form. Though it fundamentally refers to experimentation and measurement by mixing marketing and engineering capabilities, growth hacking is philosophically rooted in doing things differently than most. Fortunately for you, email is one of those places that is ripe for creative exploration, and we have just what you need to start approaching it in new ways.  

Growth Hacking Defined

Somewhere around 2010, Sean Ellis, founder of growthhackers.com, came up with the term “growth hacking” and it began to spread wildly in the following years.


What started as a movement to inject more scalable and measurable practices into marketing – think A/B testing and constant optimization – evolved into the pursuit of creative ways to increase your most important metrics. The rapid increase in digital marketing tools and performance analysis software has made growth hacking more accessible to the masses.

Email may not be the first channel most growth hackers think about, but it has all the building blocks for simple experimentation; out-of-the-box measurement, the ability to split test, cohort analysis, and minimal (if any) time-consuming development needs.

Perhaps the earliest and most iconic growth hack of all time was executed on email to promote an email service.


In 1996, Hotmail had about 20,000 people using its free email service, when the company decided to add a line at the bottom of all outgoing messages that read “PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail” with a link to sign up. Within 6 months Hotmail had reached 1 million users and at 18 months they claimed 12 million accounts!

5 Growth Hacks For Email Marketers

As the thinking behind growth hacking has matured, marketers have used its principles beyond just top-of-funnel tactics, into areas like engagement and content and even customer experience. For email marketers, the process begins with a deep understanding of how email works, including an analysis of its various components https://www.emailforce.co/the-anatomy-of-an-email. Here are five email growth hacks to inspire you.

1. Bypass spam filters. The beginning – and end, for that matter – of successful email marketing is getting your message into the recipient’s inbox. Everything else comes second. Not only do email marketers have to battle spam filters, but now we have Gmail Promotions tabs to wrestle with. While it’s absolutely recommended to periodically ask subscribers to add your email address to their contacts and to whitelist your emails (here are handy dandy instructions you can use), sometimes that’s simply not enough. Try implementing “reply triggers” in your email flow to incentivize recipients to reply back to your messages. This sends a signal to email clients like Gmail that you are a trustworthy sender and increases your chances of getting past spam and tab filters. How do you get people to reply to your emails?

a) Offer free giveaways like ebooks and infographics or give special discounts

b) Ask a direct question as an informal survey

c) Include a call-to-action in all of your emails that says, “Have any questions or suggestions? Just click reply and it will go directly to my personal email!”

2. Track everything. If you’re using a popular email service provider like AWeber or Mailchimp, outgoing emails will automatically be tracked for opens and clicks. But what if you regularly use personal email for sales pitches and outreach?

a) To track who opens your sent emails, when, and from where, use tools like Hubspot’s email tracking extension or Yesware

b) On the flip side, if you want to see who is tracking emails sent to you, check out the Ugly Email Gmail extension

3. Get email addresses for your LinkedIn connections. This is such a big one that we almost feel bad putting it inside a list! There is a very little known feature inside LinkedIn that allows you to export the email address for every single one of your connections. Go to https://www.linkedin.com/people/export-settings and you will be able to download a CSV of all your contacts and their email addresses.

4. Pre-target your emails with paid ads. If you’re familiar with retargeting – hitting site visitors with paid ads on other sites – this hack is basically an inverse strategy, which uses brand awareness ads to increase email open rates. A few days in advance of sending an important email, like a big sales push or the launch of a new online course,  target your subscribers with brand ads on various sites. The point is not to get ad clicks like most campaigns, but to put your company name front and center with subscribers so you are top of mind when that email goes out. Here’s how it works:

a) Export your email list into a CSV or Excel spreadsheet

b) Choose online ad platforms that allow you to upload a list (often called “Custom Audience” or “Tailored Audience”), such as Facebook, Twitter, or AdWords in Gmail

c) Upload your email list

d) Create your ads focused on brand awareness (no CTA), using CPM pricing, which will drastically reduce your costs compared to CPC campaigns

e) Launch your campaigns 24-72 hours before your email

5. Use landing pages to reduce churn. Everyone hates unsubscribes, but your relationship doesn’t need to end right there and then. There are things you can do to halt unsubscribes while they are in process, which starts with a well-designed landing page experience for anyone who does click that button.

a) Always include the option to get fewer emails and/or opt out of specific email content instead of everything altogether

b) Remind people that you are awesome with funny or interesting content that just might change their mind…or at least leave them with a good impression, like what Groupon did back in the day

c) Redirect to a content page like a popular blog post or downloadable eBook for one last chance to pique their interest

d) Offer other ways to stay in touch like Facebook and Twitter; just because someone doesn’t want to be on your email list doesn’t mean they don’t want to interact with you at all

These are only a handful of ideas to make your email marketing efforts much more awesome. With the right mindset and willingness to experiment, you can hack your way to better email delivery, more opens, more clicks, and an increase in sales.

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