CXL Growth Marketing Review (Week 8)

Shwetha Ashokumar
9 min readJul 11, 2021


Hey there!

Welcome back to the CXL Growth Marketing course review.

To give you a brief, I am taking this course on Growth Marketing by CXL. Every week, I publish my review on what I have learned from this course. If you are new here, please go through the previous parts.

In this blog, I am going to review the email marketing course where you will be learning how to build lists fast, what to send that works, and how to make your email marketing data-driven.

This course is taught by Jessica Best and presents a data-driven approach to email marketing.

Here is a description of Jessica in her own words: Each day, I get to work with clients doing big-idea-driven, multi-channel campaigns to weave in the best of what data-driven strategy can do to build and boost customer relationships. I get genuinely excited to share best practices, test new ideas, and see awesome results.

Starting with my role as Digital Marketing Evangelist at emfluence, I’ve been preaching the good word of great email marketing in both online and offline communities for years. I lead email marketing and customer-driven marketing strategy for Barkley clients and get to celebrate trends and highlight smart stuff the public, speaking for audiences from Las Vegas to New Orleans to New York, and in March of 2013 on the line-up at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin.

For three years as Marketing Manager, I managed partnerships and opportunities for emfluence with other Kansas City marketing communities and businesses as well as a comprehensive and cohesive digital and email marketing campaign, promoting the emfluence Marketing Platform, and our strategic services. In 2013, I finally got to put the truth on my business card: Digital Marketing Evangelist!

In 2016, I accepted the exciting role of Director of Data-Driven Marketing at Barkley, working as lead CRM strategist for Fortune 1000 companies like At Home, Dairy Queen, and Spirit Airlines, soaking up all the smarts of my fellow partners and helping integrate data into our channels and strategies.

Email marketing basics

Email marketing is not dead. It drives $38 for every $1 invested.

In this lesson, Jessica tells us how to:

  • Maximize your email marketing by avoiding the spam folder
  • Optimize your email content for all devices and accessibility settings so each email can help earn you responses
  • Improve engagement by using email preheaders as a copy opportunity
  • Know the law so you don’t fall prey to it accidentally in today’s privacy-focused world

Jessica starts by explaining the anatomy of an email and why it is necessary that we focus on each part.

Anatomy of an email

  • Subject Line
  • Pre -Header
  • Branded Graphic Header
  • Main Message
  • Call to Action
  • Supporting Message
  • Footer

Email marketing in the 2020's

Jessica Best goes on to explain the main points to have an effective email marketing strategy. She highlights that the first point to be observed is deliverability and, today, this is a matter of law. In the past, list purchasing, data mining, and other ways were common to kickstart an email list. However, with new regulations, it is getting crucial to get permission from a user to send them emails.

That said, users must deliberately opt-in (auto opt-ins are forbidden). Besides, it is important to set expectations about frequency, content, and data security. After all, we don’t want to pay millions of dollars upon breaking laws such as GDPR, CAN-SPAM, or CASL.

Moreover, the trainer shows that an important point that is working — and has always been — is planning. Email marketing shouldn’t be a standalone tactic or something done by chance. On the contrary, as marketers, we want to have specific goals and performance metrics to evaluate how our campaigns are doing.

5 things to do

  1. Get permission
  • Subscribers should opt-in (not be auto-opted in)
  • Set expectations on frequency, value, security
  • NO harvesting email addresses from websites

2. Follow the law

  • Accurately identity the sender
  • Working opt-out mechanism
  • Include a physical address (or P.O. Box)
  • Message and subject line must have clear intent
  • Don’t commit fraud

3. Have a plan

  • Integrate with content calendar
  • Set goals and define metrics

4. Have a testing plan

5. Use Email’s Secret Weapon: DATA

5 things that you should not do

  1. Don’t start from scratch
  2. Don’t use a single image or multiple images
  3. Don’t buy an email list
  4. Don’t ignore mobile
  5. Don’t send without checking

5 things you wish you knew

  1. Preheaders can sell
  2. Video/animation lifts engagement
  3. Don’t just sell. Tell stories
  4. Have a journey based email — it sells
  5. Give discounts

How to optimize email marketing

In the users’ inbox, they’re the boss. You have to earn your way in through offering value and asking permission. That doesn’t mean you have to do it slow-and-steady, though. Jessica will share with you the best ways — free and paid — to grow your email subscriber list.

In this lesson, you will learn:

  • Warnings about the wrong way to build your list, including what the law allows
  • 4 keys to grow your list faster organically (meaning without cash investment), using the content and channels you’re already managing now
  • How to grow faster by adding (or shifting) budget to email list growth

One of the biggest investments you can make in email marketing, though, is in growing your list. Eventually, your best boost will come from growing the audience of folks who see your now-nearly-perfect emails.

How should you not do it?

  • Don’t buy, rent, trade, or borrow lists.
  • Don’t harvest addresses. Scraping emails from the web or guessing at them and auto-opting in is illegal.
  • Don’t assume permission. It’s illegal in most countries (if not the U.S. yet) and a bad quality list growth tactic globally. Ask for and EARN your subscribers’ permission.

How should you be doing it?

Opting in your leads using sign-up forms on your website with the 4 P’s

1. Prominence
2. Promise
3. Proof
4. Progressive Profiling

Retention and maintenance

  • Send to your unengaged subscribers less frequently so as not to burn them out or, let subscribers choose the frequency/types of content they receive from you via a Preferences Center
  • Run an annual campaign inviting subscribers to keep their profile up to date, i.e. let us know if you have a new primary email address
  • This can be part of your re-engagement email series
  • Better yet: make re-engagement an automated program

Optimizing email copy

If you’ve been doing email marketing for any amount of time, you know there are some quirks to designing and writing for email. In this course, you’ll hear 12+ years of trade secrets, plus trends in email design and copy in today’s inboxes that you might wanna try.

By the end of the lesson, you will learn about:

  • Navigating accessibility in email design for a great experience on all (most) devices for all (most) users
  • How to incorporate rich media into your email design (but not lose your hard-won accessibility)
  • Dynamic images and 2 more trends to test with your own campaigns

Emails these days needs to be skimmable, which means they need to be clear, concise and clickable.

Email marketing design parameters

Email Marketing design must consider accessibility for all readers & devices

  1. Making sure that the content is accessible even when the images are turned off. As 25 percent of email subscribers have their images turned off.
  2. Don’t use one large image or series of small images
  3. Email should be accessible in all email service provider platforms so while designing the email the marketers should also consider platforms like outlook where the default setting has email turned off
  4. In order to blend images and text, we can use the help of a grid
  5. When designing for B2C a serious consideration should be given to mobile as the 60 percent of the customers read email on phone or tablet

Tips to consider when designing for Mobile

To make designs accessible on mobile devices, you need to follow the below points.

  • Lots of white space between headlines, body copy, and call to action
  • At Least 40px tall/wide buttons
  • Bigger font: Minimum 14pt font size for body copy that sizes up on mobile devices(25–30pt)
  • Limit words in the images(which don't resize well)
  • If possible keep texts out of images so they can be “true text”
  • Before sending an Email check how they look on different platforms using software such as litmus and Email acid

Incorporating rich media in the email

  • Try to add animations to the email if possible but also make sure not to include large images which take too much time to load because of poor internet connection
  • Vector art tends to be easier to keep to a smaller file size than photo.
  • Fewer colors mean simpler files, which saves on file size
  • Trim your GIF to ONLY the portion of the image that is animated, keeping pixel width/height lower
  • Fewer slides/frames and/or layers can save file size
  • Outlook doesn’t show any animation in the inbox. It will default to the first “slide” in an animated GIF, so be sure to think of that as your “default” slide for those that won’t see the animation

Incorporating video in email

Video can drive engagement rates through the roof if these rules are followed

  • You use accompanying copy to tell readers why to watch
  • The “freeze-frame” is alluring
  • The CTA is clear
  • You can also try using an animated GIF as a “silent video” teaser of the content.

Most inbox providers won’t allow playing video. To get around this use

  • A still shot from the video
  • A play button (like the thumbnails that YouTube creates)
  • link to the video on YouTube/Vimeo/Facebook or our website
  • Some inboxes (Gmail/Hotmail) will find any YouTube links in your email and bring the video to the top/bottom of the email in the reader’s inbox, so they don’t have to leave their inbox to play it.

Using data to drive results

The real powerhouse of email is its ability to be customized to every single subscriber, prospect and customer on your list. In this class, Jess shares how to be setup for data-driven email success, and what types of data help move the needle. Plus, she’ll show you how to use your data to prove what campaigns are working.

This lesson covers,

  • Speaking “1-to-1” to your subscribers using variable data
  • 3 automated email campaigns you should be doing
  • Tracking what is moving the needle in your email marketing campaigns

Data can be used for customized email content

  • It allows controlling what is featured in each recipient’s message
  • Who gets which message and how often

Data can be used for segmentation and targeting

  • Who gets which offers
  • When to send whom

Data can be used for Email Marketing Automation

  • When to send Whom
  • Onboarding new clients/partners
  • Nurture program/series
  • Progressive capturing customer information
  • Use triggers and engagement indicators to determine how much to send to your subscribers over time and make use most of customer life time value
  • Can be used to send journey based emails series
  • Can be used to post purchase feedback emails
  • Can be used for re-engagement programs

Data can be used for Email Marketing Optimization

  • Define your KPIs before marketing and gauge them using data
  • We can gauge the different metrics of the emails such as opens and clicks and often times they are directly related

That’s all folks.



Shwetha Ashokumar

T shaped marketer and Author of Insider’s guide to Technical Documentation