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Email Creative Best Practices

Your email is the first thing your subscribers see when they check their inboxes, so you want it to stand out among all of the other emails they’re going to receive. It needs to be perfectly crafted, starting with the subject line and extending into the content of your message. If your email doesn’t hit all of the right notes, it might get ignored or deleted without a second thought. As an email marketer, your job is to ensure that every single one of your emails is well received by subscribers. In order to accomplish this goal, you’ll need to write creative emails that cut through the clutter and engage recipients from start to finish. But how can you craft perfect emails? Just follow these best practices!

Utilizing techniques from email list marketing, I have gradually expanded my list and grown at an average rate of 1.5% per month for the last year. I have experienced an average click rate of about 16%, an average open rate of about 29%, and an average conversion rate of about 8%. The infographic below highlights my personal data as well as tips for building an effective email list from scratch.

Responding to your subscribers

It’s important to respond to all of your subscribers. Not just because it’s polite and good customer service, but also because it will show them that you care about them as much as they care about you.

Respond within 24 hours of receiving an email if at all possible. You don’t want people wondering if you even got their message or if they should resend it in case it was overlooked. A quick response shows that not only did they get their message through, but also that it’s important enough for you to address as soon as possible.

Make sure the personal touch is there when replying to emails—even automated ones like welcome messages and transactional ones like coupons or order confirmations. People are more likely to give a company repeat business if they feel like someone actually cares about them individually instead of just another number on a list somewhere (and yes, this applies even if those numbers represent big bucks).

A call-to-action lets readers know what action is expected from them—whether that means clicking an email link within the message body or filling out a form through which they can subscribe themselves (or both). When customers click on links in your messages, make sure that these lead back into your site where relevant content awaits them—and don’t forget: This could include social media accounts! We’ve found that including links back into our own Facebook page makes people more likely than not open up another tab immediately after finishing reading our newsletter; plus we get some valuable feedback about what kinds of posts work best when sharing news across multiple platforms simultaneously.”

Asking your subscribers

Asking your subscribers for feedback, advice, testimonials, recommendations and more is a great way to keep them engaged and make them feel valued. Offering incentives like freebies or discounts can be an added incentive for getting people to respond to your requests.

Ask your readers if they’re interested in receiving any of the following types of content:

  • Tips/tricks/resources related to the topic you cover (for example: resources on how to get started with email marketing)
  • Product updates that relate back directly to the topic you cover (for example: announcing new integrations with other software companies)
  • News stories related back directly to the topic you cover (for example: recent developments in email deliverability)

Include a branded header

  • Make sure your subject line is clear and easy to read. The first hurdle for an email is getting the recipient to open it, so make it as compelling as possible by including keywords that relate to your brand or business.
  • Ensure that everything above the fold is easy for people to see and read on mobile devices, tablets and computers.
  • Make sure that your content has a clear hierarchy so readers can scan through it quickly without losing their place. This will help them decide whether they want more information about any given topic before diving into further reading – or if they should just click away and ignore you altogether!

Provide more than one CTA

Don’t be afraid to offer more than one CTA.

> Relevancy is key: Your audience will likely only respond to CTAs that are relevant to them and their needs, so if your content is about the best way to paint the kitchen, you might consider offering a discount on paint as well as a recipe for roast chicken. If it’s about how to create simple floral arrangements, offer two different options in terms of what kind of flowers people can buy (and maybe even a coupon for those flowers).

> Seasonality: Consider whether there are any specific times during which people tend to make decisions related to your product or service. Is it during tax season? Around the holidays? Take advantage of those opportunities by providing relevant CTAs that speak directly to these periods—for example, if Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, include information on how couples could use your service together in addition to tips on what gifts they might give each other or advice on florist-inspired decorating ideas for their home.

Use personalization whenever you can

Personalization is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals, whether it’s to get someone to read your email or to make them feel like they’re talking directly with you. Here’s how to personalize the different parts of your email:

  • Personalize the subject line. The person receiving an email will see the subject line first, so it’s important that it reflects what they’re looking for. If this is an automated campaign, send a test before sending out multiple emails; if you’re writing manually, ask someone else at least once before sending out emails with similar text.
  • Personalize body text by referring to something specific from their previous communication (e.g., “Thanks for signing up! We’ll be in touch soon.”) or from something on their website (e.g., “I saw on your site…”). You can also use “we” instead of just “I.” Just try not overdo it—it can feel awkward if there are too many mentions of “us” in one paragraph!

Write for your audience and respect their time

  • Write for your audience, not you. You’re not writing this email to impress your friends or make a good first impression on a potential employer. You’re writing it because you want the recipient of the email to take action and read your content.
  • Respect their time, but don’t waste it: Don’t give them more information than they need. Give them enough information that they feel comfortable making a decision about whether or not they should go through with reading the rest of what you have written, but only after they’ve already decided that they’re interested in what’s on offer.
  • Be bold: If a subject line alone isn’t going to catch their attention right away (which is pretty unlikely), then use shocking language instead! This can be done by being controversial or even offensive, but if done right, this will actually increase engagement rates because people will want see what all the fuss is about.
  • Be funny: There are few things better at grabbing others’ attention than humor; so don’t underestimate its power! Not only will funny subject lines get more clicks than boring ones; but humorous emails also tend to be easier for recipients of those emails who may otherwise hesitate before opening one from an unknown sender like yourself.”

Use plain text email when appropriate

Plain text email is better for mobile devices.

Plain text email is better for email clients that don’t support HTML.

Plain text email is better for email clients that do support HTML.

Plain text email is better for the majority of people who use Gmail and Outlook, which only support plain text emails by default

Send only the best content

  • Send only the best content. If you don’t have anything valuable to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • Don’t send too much content. You want to keep your email newsletter concise and easy to digest, so don’t include more than one piece of content in each issue unless it’s an exceptional case that warrants special treatment (like an infographic or a video).
  • Don’t send irrelevant content: Your readers will unsubscribe if they realize that they aren’t getting value from your newsletter. Make sure that whatever you’re sending is pertinent and interesting first and foremost—but secondarily, make sure it’s also well-written!
  • Don’t send boring stuff: This is somewhat similar to having relevant material—if what you’re sending isn’t engaging or thought-provoking, then why bother?

Keep things simple with your subject line, design, and message

As with any email, there are a few simple rules to remember:

  • Make sure your subject line is clear and concise. A well-written subject line is an important part of the email’s composition, but it shouldn’t be complicated or lengthy. The best way to ensure that your subject line isn’t too long? Simple! Just write one word that neatly summarizes what your email contains. If you’re sending a holiday wish list, for example, “Holiday Wishlist” would work perfectly in the subject field; if you’re sending an article about how much pizza means to you and how you want more of it in your life (and who doesn’t?), “Pizza!” will do just fine as well.
  • Make sure your subject line is relevant to the content of the email. This might seem obvious—why else would someone click on something other than what they were hoping for? But it’s easy to get lost in all sorts of details when writing emails, so make sure anything associated with them has meaning behind it before hitting send on those messages from HR asking about upcoming orientations at new offices downtown (which was actually sent out months ago).

Don’t beg for opens or clicks

  • Don’t beg for opens or clicks.

When you’re sending out a mass email, it can be tempting to overdo it by trying to make sure your recipient opens the message and clicks on the links within. However, this behavior is less than effective, as it makes your recipients feel pressured and annoyed. Instead of thinking about how many people will open your emails or how many times they’ll click through a link, focus instead on crafting an engaging subject line that entices readers to open the email in their inboxes—and then delivers on that promise once they do!

  • Be careful not to be too pushy or salesy when asking recipients to share information with you via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. The more promotional content you include in these emails (i.e., “Share this post!”), the more likely people are going to unsubscribe from future communications from you—so take care not to overdo it!

Make it easy to share content with friends or followers on social networks. Here’s how you do it.

If you want to increase your email marketing list and turn subscribers into social media fans, make it easy for them to share content with friends or followers on social networks. Here’s how:

  • Use social media buttons in your emails. Social media buttons are a great way to ensure that your subscribers can easily share content from an email with their friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. This makes it easier for people to spread the word about what you have to offer.
  • Make sure your links are clickable. If someone wants to share one of your articles on Facebook or Twitter, they need a link they can easily access without having to copy anything or go through the trouble of copying text from the email. You can do this by making sure all links within any given email lead directly back into the same area of the website or blog post where they came from so people aren’t taken off-site when clicking through them (which could potentially lose them altogether).

In order to write successful emails, you should keep them simple and know who it is that you’re writing for.

In order to write successful emails, you should keep them simple and know who it is that you’re writing for.

  • Know your audience: There are many different kinds of people who might be reading your email, so make sure it’s relevant to them all. If there’s a segment of your audience who isn’t interested in what you’re selling, then don’t send them the email. Don’t spam them. And never send unsolicited emails; that’s illegal!
  • Make sure it’s easy to read: It should be short (under 100 words), written using plain text (no HTML), with bullet points and lists so that the reader can scan through quickly while still getting the message. If they want more information or want more details on something specific, they can click through links at the bottom of each email newsletter or flyer in order to find more information about those topics only if they need it right away — but most people won’t care at all so there shouldn’t be any reason why anyone would bother reading those links anyway.”


As a recap, here are the key things you should remember when sending emails:

  • Always use a branded header.
  • Make sure your email has at least one clear call to action.
  • Personalize your emails whenever possible.
  • Keep things simple and straightforward in both design and message.
  • Focus on your audience’s needs, not your own.
  • Don’t beg for opens or clicks in your subject line.

If you follow these tips, then I’m confident that you will see an increase in engagement and revenue as well!

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