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Creating Fresh, Fierce Email Campaigns Fit for 2020

In 2018, the marketing email turned 40. 

The year was 1978, when Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager for Digital Equipment Corp., sent an email to 400 customers promoting the company’s equipment via ARPANET, the precursor to today’s internet. While his message generated a number of complaints, causing him later to become known as the “Father of Spam,” his idea resulted in $13 million in sales.

Email may be old school, but it is still relevant, as it is low cost, delivers a high ROI (an average of $38 for each $1 spent, according to the DMA National Client Email Report) and is measurable, whether you’re a company of one or 1,000. 

In the midst of the pandemic, email is a form of marketing that respects social distancing guidelines and allows direct communication with customers despite quarantines. While at home, people are online more than ever, and most are checking their email many times per day, providing an outstanding opportunity for brand communication. Statista reports that in 2020, there are 3.9 billion daily email users, and this number is expected to increase to 4.3 billion by 2023.

How can marketers optimize this classic digital tool and generate fresh and fierce results? 

Start With a Strategy

HubSpot.com recommends starting with a SMART goal, one that is “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.” For instance, “We want to increase trial sign-ups by 10% in the next six months by making our lead campaigns more targeted.”

Being SMART means curating strategies around three things: sending the right email, to the right person, at the right time. In other words, focus on Content, Recipients and Timing.


The key to creating effective email campaigns in 2020 is establishing trust with contacts by building genuine relationships with them. This involves delivering content that is appropriate, useful and will also drive sales.

You can have great content, but if no one opens your email, it is valueless. Average email open rates vary from 20-30% depending on industry and other factors. Short, attention-grabbing subject lines will entice the recipient to open your message instead of sending it straight to the trash bin.It is most effective to include the customer’s name in the opening of an email rather than using a generic phrase like, “Dear Customer.” A study found that personalized emails using customers’ names are 16% more likely to be opened and result in a transaction rate that is six times higher than average.

You also want a recipient to see value once they’ve opened your email. Provide a simple and complete call to action, and make it easy for them follow through. For instance, if you are prompting recipients to make a purchase, make sure the checkout process is easy to navigate.

Consider, too, that your contacts are not interacting just with your email messages. They may also be engaging with you on social media or reading your blogs. It’s important to think about what aspect of your message is appropriate for email and how it integrates with other content you are creating. 

Here are some content-building ideas for your next email campaign:

Automated Lead Nurturing

Instead of sending random, one-off emails to your database, automated lead nurturing allows you to send a series of automated emails that trigger based on a prospect’s behaviors or a preset interval of time. In essence, you are drip feeding appropriate content at the right time so that leads and opportunities are never missed.

Forrester Research reports that companies who excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost than those who don’t.

Promotions and Special Offers

These emails may include incentives on new products or services, loyalty discounts, free trials, waived shipping or other fees, downloads or invitations to online events. 

Brand, Employee or Customer Spotlights

Part of building trust is being relatable, and nothing is more relatable than stories about real people. Showcase a real example of how your product or service made a difference for someone, unique solutions you have developed, or take time to recognize someone for their contribution to the community. 


Getting an email to the right person means segmenting and managing your contact list, so make sure you have software that connects to a contact database that tracks both the qualities and behaviors of your contacts. Not every email is right for every subscriber. Email makes it easy to tailor messages to different audience segments with appropriate tone, empathy and calls to action. This approach is superior to sending a single email that attempts to reach all audiences at once. And, the more relevant the message, the more likely subscribers are to engage.

Campaign Monitor reported in 2019 that marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue.

Before you can create the right segments, you need good data. 

  1. Have an organized database broken down into these components: contacts and their properties; and companies and their properties.
  2. Collect the right information about the buyer: a buyer persona that details job title, company and goals; and information about where the buyer is in the sales cycle.
  3. Collect explicit data that your contacts intentionally share with you, like their contact information, company information, etc. Also collect implicit data, or information you gather from user behavior, including email, web analytic history and conversion data.

By way of example, Adidas segments ads and emails by gender, while Uber personalizes by location based on information gathered about where customers live and travel.


Different messages resonate with buyers at different stages of the buying process. Consider where they are in the journey and pair content appropriately. 

Segmenting your database helps to ensure that you are sending the right information at the right time. Create lifecycle segments for subscribers, leads and customers. For instance, if you create an incentive intended for leads, you wouldn’t want to send it to existing customers.

Analyze and Optimize

To generate results, emails have to get delivered. Email marketing regulations (like CAN-SPAM and GDPR) are stricter today than ever before, so make sure you have permission to email the contacts in your database. Collect express consent by adding a permission checkbox on your contact form.

Keep track of how many of your emails are being delivered to valid addresses, how many are opened, the clickthrough rate and your conversion metric. Also monitor unsubscribes and hard bounces and identify what those groups of contacts have in common.

Having a handle on the above will help you evaluate how profitable your email campaigns really are. Then you can make adjustments to your strategy and content that will increase your ROI.

A fierce email marketing strategy is always about fostering relationships. Continue getting to know your customers and prospects, and you’ll have the fresh insights you need to engage them. 

Work with us! Big Chief Creative Media’s team can help you create a high-impact email campaign that will entice new customers and galvanize those you already have. To find out more, please call us at (714) 794-2226 or email us at info@bigchiefcreative.com.