Email Marketing

3 ways agencies can elevate their clients’ email acquisition programs

Digital marketing boasts a ton of new and exciting technologies agencies can use for their own and their clients’ acquisition efforts, but email still remains the most effective digital channel for reaching new prospects. ROI for email marketing can be as high as 4400%; that’s a return on investment of $44 for every dollar spent.1 Any company would want to achieve this type of results and agencies need to be equipped with a foolproof strategy to get them. While many marketers use the email channel primarily as a way to keep existing prospects and customers engaged, there’s a huge opportunity to use it for new customer acquisition. Here’s how to get the most out of it and exceed your clients’ goals.

1. Invest in custom audiences to maximize conversion

A smart targeting strategy is key to a successful acquisition campaign. Agencies want to make sure they are helping clients reach the prospects who are most likely to convert. Audience targeting can be tricky for agencies – especially if they don’t have access to their clients’ database or if the client doesn’t have a firm grasp on what their ideal customers look like. This means agencies have to work extra hard to reach high-value, likely-to-convert prospects. Creating a custom audience is one of the most effective ways to target best prospects because this segment can be modeled after a company’s best existing customers. This also means that an agency can offer their client a custom solution that fits their unique business and customer profiles instead of an ‘off-the-shelf’ segment that can be used by anyone. For example, an agency can look at their home goods client’s existing customer base and append a number of data attributes to get a better idea of what that segment looks like, holistically. Using this data, they could create a custom audience that uses demographic and life event data to identify newly engaged couples that are looking to open a wedding registry, for example.

Brand example: Neptune Retail Solutions

As a leading provider of shopper marketing and media, Neptune Retail Solutions (NRS), formerly News America Marketing, works with some of the world’s biggest retailers and CPG brands. They partnered with Data Axle to create a full-service email acquisition solution – from defining the audience and designing the creative, to executing the campaigns while adhering to email deliverability best practices. In addition, Data Axle created custom audiences to connect NRS clients with Facebook and Instagram shoppers who are most likely to be in-market for their products and helped NRS identify the ideal audience for their clients’ email acquisition programs by analyzing audience demographics and past campaign performance. The result was personalized messaging delivered to various audience segments informed by past behaviors, purchase history, demographic attributes, interests and more. Data Axle was able to double the average open rate for email acquisition campaigns and achieve 3X the average click-through-rate to a custom audience developed specifically for each NRS client. Over the past ten years, Data Axle has helped drive millions in revenue for NRS clients using email acquisition campaigns to grow their customer base

2. Maximize email deliverability

Many agencies work with a partner to deploy email acquisition campaigns and the key to a successful partnership is email deliverability expertise and an understanding of the many privacy regulations that have been passed over the last 5 years. Some things to look for when choosing an email partner include:

  • Offers access to detailed deliverability metrics including inbox placement rates by ISP, sub-folder inbox placement rates at popular email services like Gmail and Outlook, spam folder placement rate, blocked message rate, and blocklist detection. Keeping a close eye on these metrics is a crucial component of avoiding delivery failure.
  • Provides additional engagement and database metrics (both modeled and measured) such as email send volume, open rate, delete without open rate, delete after open rate, and read rate. Engagement metrics are extremely important in determining sender reputation and achieving better inboxing rates.
  • Can provide strategic recommendations to avoid deliverability issues or solve existing ones (such as IP warming, sender reputation management, block detection and removal, and much more)
  • Has direct communication channels with major ISPs and blocklists such as Spamhouse so they can mediate any issue in real-time.

3. Develop a comprehensive testing strategy to identify what works best for your clients’ audience

In our 2021 trends report, we recognized AI-enabled testing is one of the biggest trends of the year. Why? Because testing produces results. While lifelong marketers may consider testing an arduous process, new technologies and thoughtful processes have made it easier than ever.

Innovative messaging and creative will only yield results if they’re tried and tested against your client’s unique audience. Agencies need to know what success looks like and what they are testing for. Are they trying to get at what resonates with the client’s entire audience? Or is it just about high-value consumers? Or perhaps it’s a test for those who reside in certain geographic regions? Agencies should consider building a learning agenda and a test plan for each client. This will help make testing purposeful and provide insights agencies can use to develop future campaigns.

Brand example: Mailshake uses A/B testing to double response rates

Acme Advisors and Brokers wanted to increase the effectiveness of their cold email campaigns. Mailshake used feedback-guided A/B testing to get some insights. This meant they analyzed the replies to the cold email to see how to best shape their next campaign. The first send had a reply rate of 9.8% and Mailshake looked at the feedback in the replies, much of which was negative. The prospects were either not interested or thought the agency was just reaching out to everyone, regardless of relevance, which made the emails come across as spam. Mailshake took this feedback edited the messaging before the next send to make it more personalized to the recipient and sound less spammy. In this case, that meant small changes, like dropping the phrase “potential partner,” adding more context around why they were reaching out, and making the email more specific by mentioning they were only targeting certain types of businesses. This more personalized approach helped Mailshake build trust and generate a reply rate of 18% (double the original) with 70% of replies being positive.2 Pretty good for a cold email campaign!


There are plenty of ways agencies can optimize the email acquisition programs they develop and execute on behalf of their clients. Data-driven audience segmentation, a focus on email deliverability, and smart testing strategies are three good areas to start.

To learn more about how to overcome deliverability challenges and achieve optimal inboxing results for your clients:

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Email Deliverability Guide
Learn 11 strategies you can use to overcome common deliverability challenges, improve your sender reputation, and ensure you hit the inbox.
Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.