When people talk about email marketing, lots of them forget to mention transactional emails. These are the automated emails you get in your inbox after taking a certain action on a website. This could be anything from filling out a form, to purchasing a product, to updating you on the progress of your order. Often, these are plain text emails that marketers set and forget.
Whenever possible, add a personal element to your emails. Most email tools allow you to enter shortcodes that will be replaced with the recipient’s name when the email is sent out. Emails from Treehouse Co-Founder Ryan are always fun and personal. The subject lines are creative, messages are sent "from" Ryan's email address, and the content is personalized. If you reply to the mail, you'll even get a prompt response from Ryan himself!
That isn’t to say that sales-y promotions couldn’t ever create results—as marketing “gurus” have proved. The results just aren’t as good as they could be. Take the biggest gurus’ results—the ones they boast about—and calculate their conversion rates. Often their marketing is comparatively ineffective. They just have massive volume, so the sales numbers are impressive.