Your Guide to Email Marketing: Part 4 – Writing Emails

email marketing

An important thing to consider you need to think about this when you are writing emails. Did you know that 1.9 billion non-spam emails are sent every day and the average office worker receives 121 emails per day? That’s a lot of competition for your attention in people’s inboxes.

Yet even with the rapid rise in alternative forms of communication – such as messaging and social media posts – email is still an extremely viable method of maintaining communications and building relationships.

If anything, 2015 was the year of disproving email naysayers. 72% of consumers prefer brands communicate via email than any other communication method, a recent MarketingSherpa survey found. Radicati projects that there will be more than 246 billion business and consumer email addresses by the end of 2019.

So to maximise open rates and action (like replies or click-throughs) you need to follow a few golden rules when writing emails . . .

1. Is your headline enticing enough to get the email opened?

Review your own inbox habits.  Which emails do you open and which do you ignore or delete?  Ones that scream at you with some kind of sales message are often the ones you trash immediately aren’t they?

Your Guide to Email Marketing: Part 4 - Writing Emails

Here’s some tips to help you craft a good headline:

  • Personalise - use the person’s first name in the headline - it often improves open rates.
  • Be explicit – if you have a special offer of a free thing or discount, state that in the subject line – but avoid the word “free” – so your email makes it past spam filters
  • Get to the point - email subject lines will get cut off if they’re too long, particularly on mobile devices.
  • Write it last – don’t craft your headline until you’ve finished writing the email. Once you get in the writing flow you will probably think of 5 or 10 great headlines.
  • Split test – choose two or more of the headlines you think are the best and split test.  Send each to a portion of your list first and see which headline gets the most opens, then roll out the winner to the remainder of your list.  A great way to maximise your open rate.

2. Who’s sending it?

You will get a higher open rate and better engagement if your email comes from an actual person rather than just a company name or even worse- a “do-not-reply” email address. I will never ever understand why companies send out emails with explicit instructions like do not reply to this email.  How incredibly rude and what a way to treat customers.   If they don’t want to answer emails, they shouldn’t send them out in the first place.  If they don’t want to speak to customers, then they shouldn’t be in business.

3. What about branding?

Some marketers stick to issuing plain text emails only because they believe they look more personal than html branded ones.  I disagree.  Most spammers use plain text emails.

Certainly I advocate always creating a plain text version so that people who block images or html emails in their email systems can still view your email.

But having a well-designed branded email that echoes your website helps build brand awareness.  And you can include enticing images to attract attention, call to action buttons, and use colours to define areas or bring attention to headings.

Most email systems come with branded templates which you can adapt.  We create customized branded templates for our clients that incorporate their logo, colours, fonts, contact info, tagline or services description, social media links, and sometimes even testimonials.

Your Guide to Email Marketing: Part 4 - Writing Emails

4. Is your content an interesting read?

Writing emails and writing newsletters requires different content.  If you’re sending out an email – whether it be a one off broadcast or part of a campaign – stick to one message (topic) in the email.  Don’t make the content too salesy.  Have a conversation by telling a story, just like you would if you were speaking to them on the phone or face to face.  The purpose of your email is to inform and be helpful.  The goal is to get them to take one action – either click through to your website for further details, or contact you by phone or email.

Think about the layout of the email and use headings, images and bullet points to grab the attention of skim readers,  break up the text and emphasize key takeaways.

Don’t make it too long or too boring.

5. Have you repeated the call to action?

Your Guide to Email Marketing: Part 4 - Writing Emails

Repeat the call to action to improve results

Every email needs a call to action, something you want them to do.  Use verbs to tell people exactly what you want them to do – Read More, Find out how, See it in action, Order here, Call this number, Hit reply, etc.  Only have one call to action though – don’t send them off to lots of different links – unless it’s a newsletter – then it’s okay.

It’s also a good idea to use a combination of customized buttons and hyperlinks, and repeat them a couple of times so people don’t need to scroll back up or scroll right down - as shown in our example at right.  They can click your link when their attention is peaked.

6. Does is display well on a mobile phone?

In this mobile era, more than 50% people check their emails on mobile and the ratio is expected to grow in the coming years. If your email is not optimized for mobiles and other smart devices then you can kiss 50% of your list goodbye.  Make sure the template you are using is responsive, and send a test to yourself and view it on your mobile before you send it out.

7. Are you tracking engagement?

One of the best things about using html emails is that most professional email systems – (Infusionsoft, aWeber, Mailchimp) – provide tracking of link clicks, so you know who clicked which link in your email, and how many times they clicked it. This shows you how far down your email people read before taking action.  If it’s a newsletter style email with multiple topics and links – it shows you which ones are the most popular. Great info for planning your content calendar.

8. Are you targeting based on behavior?

Even better, with Infusionsoft you can get quite sophisticated and setup rules so that if some clicks on a link – you can activate other campaigns etc.

For example, a landscaper might issue 2 emails in a week – one with a link to his blogpost on 3 Ways to Keep Your Garden Moist Whilst Your on Holiday and the other with a link to another blogpost on Pavers That Don’t Go Mouldy.  He could setup a rule telling Infusionsoft to send the special email sequence about irrigation tips to all the people who clicked on the link to read the blogpost about watering your garden, because this obviously interests them.  This sequence might contain three emails, which go out once a week and contain tips and special offers on the irrigation devices he sells.

Likewise, the people who click on the pavers link could automatically receive a separate email sequence with special offers on the new pavers.

The people who received the original two emails and didn’t click on any links will not get the special sequences and won’t be annoyed by information they may not be interested in right now.

Your Guide to Email Marketing: Part 4 - Writing Emails

What to do now

It seems like a lot to consider doesn’t it?  We think of email marketing as an extension of actually talking to someone face to face.  You wouldn’t talk in a stilted formal manner to a prospect or customer, just like you wouldn’t ring them and say “Hi Sue, we have a great special on this month.  Here’s the details.  Buy now.”

When you do it properly, communicating with your prospects and customer regularly can be enormously effective.  It builds relationships, stimulates enquiries, inspires purchases.

If you’d like a hand getting it right – let us help.  We love developing email campaigns.  Call 1300 554 495 or email for a chat about what you want to achieve.

Your Guide to Email Marketing: Part 4 - Writing Emails


Avatar for Annette Welsford

About Annette Welsford

Hi there. My passion is to inspire and help business owners to create the type of marketing and customer service that makes their business irresistible. I'm privileged to have a talented team at Commonsense Marketing who create and execute beautiful websites, engaging social media campaigns, and fantastic email campaigns that deliver results for our clients. And it's wonderful that many of them have said lots of nice things about the work we’ve done (see our case studies). We love to work with the owners and teams of small to medium sized business who are motivated to become the best in their niche and achieve more than they ever thought possible.


  1. Avatar for Rohan Saxena Rohan Saxena on December 4, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Very good written article. It will be supportive to anyone who utilizes it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – can’t wait to read more posts.