The ORTE Model: MailNinja’s Guide to Creating Emails that Get Results

This is a post from our partner, Doug Dennison, from MailNinja

Email marketers often hear this advice: Send the right emails to the right person at the perfect time.

This advice can seem less than helpful. Naturally, we all want to send relevant, timely content, but how do you do that?  What is “the right” message?

Before aiming for perfection, you simply want quality emails. In order to make great sends, you’ll need the following:

​​Sender authority

​​If you want your emails to send without issue, you’ll need to authenticate your domain. Authenticating your domain is the best way to ensure your emails are delivered successfully.


Thought leadership

Show your subscribers you’re a thought leader in your industry by providing high-quality content, original research, and helpful information.

​​Message relevancy

​​Does your message match your audience? Guessing is no way to ensure positive relationships with your subscribers, so find out more about them. Put out surveys, test your emails, and research the subscribers who read your emails.

​​Recipient desire

Is your content meeting a need? Do your emails answer questions or provide information on products people want?

​​Look at Apple for example. Apple’s a thought leader in the tech space; the company creates products people want to buy; and when Apple launches something, the world knows about it.

Secondly, their emails are on brand, on message, and speak directly to their audience. This is because Apple markets products carefully and does adequate research into their customer-base. You can see in the ad below that Apple encourages customers to provide feedback on their current device:

Example of an Apple phone ad

Introducing the ORTE model.

​​The ORTE model from MailNinja explores the four pillars of successful email marketing campaigns, so you can send emails like a (mail)ninja.

Mailninja ORTE model for email



​​This section is designed to look at opportunities to do things in a slightly different way, looking at ways you make your mark, stand out, and cut through the noise.

​​Market and industry – Are other people in your market space using social media heavily but tend to avoid email? Then switch it up and send more emails. If you want to stand out, be different in your approach.

Consider, too, your industry benchmarks. If you see that your industry gets an low open rate on average, there’s a real opportunity for you to create more relevant, engaging, and personal emails that will drive better rates.

​​Competitors/gap analysis – Do your competitors send emails more frequently? Are their emails better designed than yours? Use this as your benchmark, but don’t rely on it solely. Instead, check out Really Good Emails, get inspired by companies outside of your industry so you can create unique, relevant and valuable content for your audience.

MailNinja's Really Good Emails account

​​The strengths – What’s already working in your email marketing program? Dive deep, find out, and do more of the same. That’s the whole purpose of A/B split testing—creating small experiments, finding out what works, and scaling.
​​The weaknesses – Is there anything within your current email approach, email design, or email marketing strategy, that you know may be actively keeping your engagement levels down?

Perhaps you need assistance from an email marketing expert, or you may prefer to use free resources (like Really Good Emails) for inspiration, so you can improve things like your subject lines, personalization tactics, and email formatting, so your emails work on mobile and desktop perfectly.
​​The threats – As part of your competitor analysis, make note of your top competitors. How can you use email marketing to convert customers from a competitor, will discounts/welcome offers work, or is it better to produce more unique, relevant and valuable content, more often?

Graphic with the words strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

​​Consumer/audience – This part is all about the relevancy of your emails. It’s vital you create relevant content for your audience, focusing on the language you use, the design aesthetics, the offers, and promotions. It’s paramount to consider the audience perspective, not your own. Will they be expecting discounts? More frequent emails? Maybe current customers want rewards for their loyalty.
​​Interest/demand – Which of your products are performing best? Your emails should contain a balance, so you can boost demand for the products you might want to sell more of, as well as give people what they want by showcasing products your audience know and love. You may want to drive interest without selling, by focusing on features, benefits, and brand value, rather than cost.
​​Social trends – Review your social channels to pinpoint trends you can repurpose in your emails. Social media is constantly evolving and coming up with new trends, so it’s important you move quickly and align your emails with what’s top of mind.
​​Social proof – Do you have reviews or positive experiences from other customers that you can show off? Email and social work hand-in-hand, so bridge that gap by sharing social content in your emails, such as customer comments. Also, use reviews sites like Trustpilot to enhance trust and authority. If you have awards, showcase them and show leads you’re trusted.

​​There are 6 types of social proof, as shown below:​​

Devrix Social Proof graphic


Seasonal opportunity – If you’re a clothing retailer, think winter and summer ranges. If it’s the school holidays, perhaps discounted services/products. If it’s Christmas, capitalize on the increased demand and send out more emails, such as countdowns to Christmas.

You always want to be looking for that golden opportunity. Whatever market you’re in, it will always be changing, and new trends will appear. It’s all about finding the gap available to send out those marketing emails that will work. Always be on your toes, checking the news and stuff that’s trending on social media, so you can tailor your email campaigns to put them in a position where they’ll deliver.


​​In this section, we are focusing on relevancy, creating content specifically for your audience, so you can create a better on-brand and personalized experience with your emails.

​​Emotional triggers – There are a few emotions you can look at triggering with your emails, here are some ideas:

  • Trust
  • ​​Value
  • ​​Belonging
  • ​​Happiness
  • ​​Love
  • ​​Curiosity
  • ​​FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • ​​Shock/surprise
  • ​​Exclusivity
  • ​​Competition
  • ​​Guilt
  • ​​Anger
  • ​​Pride

​​Remember: emotions drive actions.

​​Desire/motivation – the AIDA model looks at the following steps:

A graphic of the AIDA model, attention, interest, desire, and action


​​This model is a great place to start when understanding the “motivators” for action in your email campaigns. Let’s break this down:

​​1. Attract attention: Your email must attract the recipient’s attention. Writing short, effective subject lines is a great way to do this. Clickbait is a highly effective way to grab attention, but use it wisely, as these tricks are now widely known and often ignored.

​​2. Maintain interest: Once your email is open, the reader will spend an average 13.4 seconds reading your email. This may sound like a long time, but if your message isn’t clear, your copy is too long, your main CTA is too far down, or your email isn’t optimized for mobile screens, then you simply won’t drive engagement and maintain interest.

​​3. Create desire: If your message is clear and your subscriber is interested, it is now your mission to persuade the subscriber to click through to purchase your product, your service, or perform the action you want. You do this through having an appealing offer or product.

4. Take action: As soon as the desire is there, this must be transferred into action, that is, the purchase or click through to your website.

In email marketing, the AIDA model can even be boiled down to just AA—Attention and Action. Of course, interest and desire are important factors, but in the case of email, we’re going to assume they’re assumptions, as your audience is already subscribed to your list and have explicitly said they want your emails.

​​Audience demographic – If your audience spans across different ages and genders, you want your emails to be applicable to each demographic. This is where email segmentation is your new best friend, as it can help you to tailor content to each type of reader.

On signing up to your email list, add a few extra fields to capture more data. If they already exist, then try running surveys to gather more information from your audience.

This is where ecommerce and email are great together, as you are gathering layers of data from your audience and customers, through customer signups, email engagement, and purchase history. This is where CM Commerce comes in, since you can sync it with your Shopify or Woocommerce shop right away to start ecommerce email marketing.

CM Commerce example

​​WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) – Remember, it’s about your audience. Your product might be amazing and have all of its unique selling points, but what are the direct benefits to your audience if they were to buy it? Is it B2B or B2C, and can you apply the benefits to certain individuals and companies?

​​Personal – Each subscriber isn’t just a number. They have a name, likes, and dislikes, and you generally know their age and what they tend to search for on your website (If they have actively visited your site already that is).

Personalize your content to every reader, you can use tags to insert the recipient’s first name, or even to promote your local store, so your readers know certain products are in stock or on offer.

​​Culture and Localization – It’s not just about translating your email content for French or Spanish subscribers: Your emails should incorporate cultural awareness. Think about local dialect, trends and tastes, hobbies, slang, etc.




​​Subscriber timezone – Think about where your subscribers are located, do you want campaigns that are sent out at the same time in your time zone, or would it be better to accommodate everyone, and send out your emails at the same local time for all?

​​Best open rate time – This point emphasizes the importance of testing and keeping an eye on industry benchmarks. These can change depending on the year, or if a global event (such as COVID-19) affects the economy.


Value proposition – This point is all about taking what your product or service does, and emphasizing the benefits to the reader. An important thing we should point out however, is that the value-adding shouldn’t have to contain buzz-words or complex phrases. This overwhelms your readers, and it adds no value to your offering.

​​Keep things industry-specific, and value the intentions of your reader. With your email campaign, you want something that gets readers to your website, actively improves engagement, and improves your brand awareness.

​​Design – Think about how you can deliver your emails with a design that incorporates your brand image, and the relevant products you are offering. We’d recommend using a mix of text and images (60/40 split), taking close attention to the fold line, the inverted pyramid, and your CTA, (or CTAs if you have multiple).

The invisible pyramid is our favorite, as it is a great way to introduce what a product of yours does, then turn the attention to the reader, possibly asking them a question related to the benefits they will receive, and directing them down towards the button.

​​Color psychology – Think about the colors that are associated with both your brand, and what’s emotionally captivating.

​​As you might expect, design, color, tone, and language, are incredibly important to perfecting your email formula. If you’re new to the world of effective email design, you can always use our industry-leading templates and guides.

Wrap up

As we’ve seen, the ORTE model focuses on the four pillars for successful email marketing. Looking at Opportunity, Relevancy, Timing, and Execution. The goal is to align these four areas so you are sending highly targeted and personalized email campaigns to your audience. The sweet spot in the middle is where you want to aim for.

​​So, next time you start planning your next email campaign, try to do some market and competitor research upfront so you know what you’re sending and why, craft the content, look at the design and copy, then your timing.

​​This post was written by Doug Dennison, CEO at MailNinja, the UK’s leading email marketing agency. Their flagship email campaign management service allows companies to fully outsource their day-to-day email marketing.

The post The ORTE Model: MailNinja’s Guide to Creating Emails that Get Results appeared first on Campaign Monitor.