Blogs Pushing the Email Envelope: 5 Advanced Techniques to Add to Your Repertoire

Written by Paula Chiocchi on 2015-07-22


As we move past the halfway point in 2015, email continues to exhibit its dominance as a marketing medium. According to the Direct Marketing Association, it yields an average 4,300% ROI for businesses in the U.S. Experts also say that for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average ROI is $44.25. Meanwhile, research indicates using email to nurture leads generates 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. These nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads.

So while the ROI and revenue benefits of email are beyond dispute, it is still incumbent upon marketers to deliver value and make their messages stand out. With hundreds of emails arriving in recipients’ inboxes each day, now more than ever, it’s clear that employing the latest technologies to rise above the clutter is essential. Here are five advanced email techniques to consider adding to your repertoire:


  1. Animated GIFs and Cinemagraphs can be used to create movement in an email to capture a viewer’s attention. Like a flipbook you might have drawn as a kid, a GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) stacks a bunch of images into a short looping video. Cinemagraphs convey movement by animating sections of a photo while the rest of the photo is static. Both are great for demonstrating a product, as opposed to just describing it. Resources exist to help marketers create these; just make sure the animation compliments the message or call to action. There are, however, a few downsides to be aware of. They can have limited support, so make sure the initial frame looks good as a static image. Also make sure the file size isn’t too big – keep it under 100k.
  2. Videos are quickly becoming the hottest, biggest trend in email marketing. As such, it is being adopted by more email platforms as time goes on, and it can be easily embedded in an email using a video tag in HTML code. It, too, should be playable right in your email, but similar to above, have a good static image in case it doesn’t. Another element to consider adding is autoplay, in case readers don’t realize the graphic is a video. Include a call to action at the end of the video, directing viewers where to go next.
  3. Scratch-it is another way to make emails interactive. As the name implies, it creates an experience similar to a lottery scratch card, where the email viewer has to “scratch” to see the key piece of the message, such as the offer, promotion or call-to-action. Here too, you’ll want to use the technology to reveal the right type of offer, and make sure the reader’s payoff is rewarded for their invested effort – whether through discounts, loyalty awards, perks or premium content.
  4. Responsive Design changes the layout of your email (e.g. font sizes) based on the size of the screen used by the viewer. Therefore, it’s ideal for the myriad mobile devices in use these days. Go big on the text size and buttons, which can increase engagements and click-throughs. Although there are responsive design templates available, this technology may best be left to the pros. Otherwise, be sure to test and preview your email on numerous mobile devices to be sure it renders correctly and looks good.
  5. Web Fonts offer a unique design for emails not typically seen by readers. There are numerous websites where marketers can obtain these, but, like GIFs, note that not all fonts are supported by all email platforms so you’ll have to employ a fallback font.

With ever-increasing competition for eyeballs, we’ll continue to see more innovative email techniques such as these in the near future. That’s why I encourage email marketers to stay in front of the technology curve – and get creative and inventive with their email campaigns. But do your research on these technologies, find out how your target audience receives and reads your messages, and rigorously test your outgoing campaigns. By putting a bit more novelty in your emails, your recipients will enjoy receiving them – which means they’ll likely take more action.


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