Email Newsletters: Why Most Companies Are Doing Them Wrong (and What to Do Instead)

July 20, 2021
minute read

According to the DMA’s, 2015 national client email report, email revenue from blanket email newsletters that have the same message for all recipients decreased significantly from 23% in 2012, to 14% in 2014.

revenue driven by email type

And it continues to shrink.

86% of email revenue is coming from email campaigns that use advanced tactics.

These advanced tactics include:

In summary, the majority of your revenue from email will come from the emails we cover in this guide:

In the past we’ve talked about batch and blast emails (AKA “unsegmented email newsletters”) coming to an end.

In that post we said:

“If you’re still sending unsegmented newsletter blasts to your entire list, then it’s only a matter of time before your customers start tuning you out.”

And it’s true, the data is showing just that.

unsegmented emails to whole list data

Percentage of email revenue from unsegmented emails to whole list, fell in 2014

They’re slowly tuning out more and more each year, and revenue from these campaigns are decreasing.

Your company will never have 100% of people on your list interested in what you’re about to send them. That’s why you need to be smart about what you’re sending and who you’re sending emails to.

How to Send Email Newsletters That Are More Likely to Get Opened, Clicked and Lead to a Conversion

Because unsegmented emails to an entire list are generating less revenue, it’s important to use more advanced tactics to ensure emails have some sort of relevance and connection to the person that is about to open it.

To make them more relevant, you need to use segmentation parameters to hone in on the perfect prospect that should receive your message.

ecommerce email marketing segmentation matrix by Rejoiner

The segmentation matrix can help us hone in on the exact person we want to deliver our email newsletter to, so that it has a better chance of being:

Opened > Consumed > Clicked

… and more of a chance that it will lead to engagement or a sale.

Some people may be thinking:

“Why would we want to send emails to less people? Less people means less opens and less revenue”


Triggered emails work very well just for this reason:

“In general, there is a lower volume of triggered emails, but higher engagement and conversion rates thanks to better timing and contextual relevance.” – source

So before you send an email, you need to ask yourself: How can I make sure that I’m only sending this to people who are most likely to be really engaged in the message?

The absolute worst thing you can do is send an irrelevant email to a subscriber, which they will open the first time, realise it’s something they don’t like, which will make them more likely to ignore you the next time you send something.

A great example of this is an email I received from iHerb. I hadn’t purchased from them in about 3 months, they then proceeded to send me this email offering bug repellent:

bug repellent email by iHerb

I wasn’t interested in bug spray, I had never looked at bug spray on their site or even browsed the category.

This was a typical unsegmented newsletter blast and it’s a prime example for why revenues from emails to unsegmented contacts are falling.

How to Send Email Newsletters That Produce an ROI Your Boss Would Be Happy With

eCommerce fashion retailer (and Rejoiner customer) Amaroso, sell boutique womens clothing.

A few of their main categories are:

  • Dresses
  • Bottoms
  • Swimwear
  • Playsuits

If they had a sale for their range of playsuits, they could:

  • Send a newsletter announcing the sale to their entire list.


  • Send the same newsletter to website visitors that had visited the /playsuits category in the last 30 days OR to anyone that has purchased a playsuit in the last 6 months.

Ahh, much better.

I hope you can see how the latter method would be more targeted and hone in on people who would at least be a little interested in what we have to offer.

RFM: How It Helps Us Understand Who We Should Be Sending Our Emails to

RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) tells us that a customer who has visited your site Recently (R) and Frequently (F) and created a lot of Monetary Value (M) through purchases is much more likely to visit and buy again.

(Jim Novo has a great article explaining RFM for those wanting to learn more)

People who have recently made a purchase (or at least recently showed an interest by visiting a specific category on your website) are more likely to open that email and engage when compared with someone who hasn’t been to your site or made a purchase in a while.

5 Smart Email Newsletter Sends That Generate Sales

Here are five more ideas for you to try with your next newsletter:

1) Presale emails to reward loyal customers

We spoke with Tony Vontz about how his upstart outdoor apparel brand is using email to reward loyal customers. His company, Edgevale, would generate pre sales for products by sending emails to customers (ie. people that had made at least one purchase).

segmentation conversion count greater than one

Tony incorporated exclusivity and urgency into his campaigns by offering a laddered discount of:

  1. $30 off
  1. + 10% off
  1. + free

… if the subscriber purchased before midnight on the day the email was sent.

He still uses this strategy to cash flow his business before new inventory hits his shelves.

2) Cross-sell emails to grow customer LTV

If someone has purchased one of your products and you have a related or complementary item that would go with it, this is the perfect time to send a cross-sell email to that group of customers.

In the email below, you can see how Bavsound, an eCommerce company selling BMW audio upgrades, sends a cross-sell email campaign to customers that purchased a Stage One Speaker, offering a Subwoofer Upgrade to complement the original speaker purchase.

bavsound cross sell email

3) Category specific promotions using purchase data and browse triggers

Sending category specific promotions (shoes, shirts, swimmers) to people that have:

  • Made a purchase of a specific category in the past
  • Visited a specific category on your website recently

…is a smart way to target people who are most likely to be interested in your offer. Rather than sending this week’s promotion out to your entire list, sending the promotion to people that made a purchase in that category or who have been browsing that category is another way to hone on who would be most interested in the email you’re about to send them.

4) Seasonal promotions

Christmas, Black Friday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are four seasonal promotions you could send emails for.

In the email below, All Backyard Fun ran a Christmas promotion with tiered discounts depending on spend levels.

abyf seasonal email promotion

5) Content driven

If you still want to send the same email to everyone on your list (which we advise against), you’d have to be doing what Huckberry are doing.

huckberry email newsletter

Beautifully designed, content rich emails with lots of different things for people to consume are a must if you want everyone on your list to engage with your email.

How to Increase the Conversions of Your Email Newsletters

In the jam study post, we:

  1. Provided less options (to click)
  1. Added an element of scarcity

And conversions took off.

We recommend you test doing the same for your email newsletter sends, especially the seasonal promotions we mentioned in #4.

Have Rejoiner Proactively Plan & Execute Your Email Newsletters for You

Alongside triggered email, Rejoiner now sends email newsletters & broadcast sends for customers.

As outlined in this post, we take a different approach to sending email newsletters, however we will not be sending the same email to your entire list as we see that strategy as a loser over time.

Instead we will use more advanced techniques and the eCommerce Email Segmentation Matrix as a way to send less emails, but make them more profitable for you.

Here’s what we can do for you:

  • Plan your newsletter and broadcast strategy
  • Create an execution calendar for each newsletter and promotion
  • Execute on your newsletter and broadcast strategy for on an ongoing basis
  • Identify high value segments from your ecommerce data so we know who who are the ideal people to send your emails to
  • Have our designers put together all the creative aspects of every email

What To Do Now

Frequently Asked Questions



Rejoiner team works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hydroflask, Titleist, GUESS, and Big Chill. We help them grow faster using lifecycle email.

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