How to write an email that actually works?

January 29, 2021

How to write an email that actually works” is an important question, however, in order to give an answer to it, we should first figure out the whys and whos here. There could be countless reasons as to why you might need to send out online mail and who’ll be receiving it: you may need to convey an important business message to your manager, or you might want to send a happy birthday card to a close friend. This article, however, is going to be focusing on slightly different kinds of emails, which serve as a powerful marketing tool. So, as you may have already figured, we’ll be talking about email marketing.

About Email Marketing Briefly

Email marketing proposes great benefits to brands and business owners. Marketers often turn to it when they need to offer relevant information to their target audience and boost conversion rates. According to, the number of active email users is expected to reach 4.3 billion in 2023. The author continues by saying that the number of sent and received emails goes up to 293.6 billion a day. Given those figures, it’s no surprise that 81% of small businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel and 80% for retention campaigns.

A major benefit of email marketing is the fact that it’s completely under your control. You decide how to attract subscribers and grow your list, you decide how to segment your audience, you set your emailing schedule, you plan and create your campaigns, and choose the designs and the copies. It might seem like a ton of work (and if you’re doing it alone, it will most likely feel like it is), but there are plenty of third-party tools, which can come in handy when planning and implementing your email marketing strategy. The good news here is the fact that this type of marketing doesn’t require a huge budget, so you might choose to start off with a limited plan (either for free or in exchange for an affordable monthly fee) and adjust it as your business grows.

Additionally, according to, consumers prefer to be contacted by brands mainly via email. This could be due to the fact that the digital allows for the creation of colorful, interactive, and attention-grabbing emails, so if you haven’t been paying attention, we’ve already said our goodbyes with the boring, straightforwardly dull “Dear Sir/Madam” emails. Moreover, users now receive valuable information accompanied by fresh design and visuals. This combined with the fact that they can personally decide when to open a given email (and whether to open it at all), makes email a perfect marketing tool.

Golden Email Marketing Rules

As with any other marketing channel, email also has its own specifics and requirements, in order for it to be successful. Although there’s a wide variety of online tools, which can help you, it takes time and effort to grow this marketing channel and see results. That is why you need to start planning your email strategy early. In this article, we’ve gathered some of the most important aspects of email marketing, so you can consider them and set yourself on the path to success.

  • Set a Goal

Before you get to the fun part of actually creating your emails, you need to first determine what you want to achieve through them. It’s a good idea to set a specific goal for each quarter of the year. Furthermore, every separate campaign should also follow a pre-set main objective. You should always think of your goal when deciding on the text, visuals, and design of each email. Moreover, by creating campaigns in accordance with your objective, you’ll be able to stay consistent with your messages, and ultimately, you’ll achieve your goal. If you’ve never done email marketing before and you’re just starting out, your goal for the next quarter could be connected to attracting more email list subscribers, for example.

  • Grow Your Email List

Your email list is one of the most important points of email marketing that you must think about. Without it, it’s simply impossible to execute email campaigns because you’ll have no one to send your content to. Therefore, it’s a very good idea to make it a priority and start thinking about different ways, in which you could grow it. You can create sign-up banners on your website, run digital ads on the internet or offer free materials (such as whitepapers, guides, or special content) only available once your customers provide you with their email addresses. Keep in mind that the methods, through which you grow your list should always be GDPR compliant because otherwise, you will be in serious trouble. What’s great about email lists, is the fact that they are composed of people in your target audience, who willingly signed up for this. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that email marketing can help you achieve your business goals. The bigger your email list is, the more successful your campaigns are going to be.


  • Segment & Personalize

If you want to deliver your message to the right people (and you should), then segmenting has to be your best friend. The goal here is to divide the people on your email list into smaller groups (based on diverse characteristics such as gender, age, working status, etc.) and send different emails to each group. In that way, you can easily provide valuable content, which will not only make the user feel like you’re talking directly to them but will also increase your conversion rates. Furthermore, with the help of technology, you can also personalize your emails. You can add users’ first names anywhere in the email, so your copy can start like that, for example: “Hey, Jessica” or “Jessica, we know you’ll love this…”. A fun fact, shared by campaign monitor is that emails with personalized subject lines generate 26% higher open rates. Additionally, if you have stored more information about your customers (and not just their email and name), you can also use it for personalization. For example, you can add their phone number, their location, and other details.

  • Create a Flow of Content

With email marketing, you have the opportunity to create automated flows of content, which contribute towards the completion of a certain goal. The great thing about flows is that you set up a series of emails once, and they continue to fulfill their purpose until you decide to stop or change the flow. You can decide to create an abandoned cart flow, for example, and periodically send a series of reminder emails to customers that didn’t complete their purchase on your online shop. You can set the sending times of your emails, so there are a few days or weeks in between each email (depending on the flow’s goal). Just make sure that you’re not over-spamming your customers.

  • Keep Track of The KPI (key performance indicators)

You need to always track and record your email campaigns’ performance because this will allow you to monitor which of your efforts are contributing to the completion of your goal and which aren’t. Some of the most important KPIs, which you’ll need to pay attention to are:

  1. Open rate: this indicates how many people of all of your subscribers have opened a particular email.
  2. Click-through rate: it shows how many people clicked on a given link in your email.
  3. Click-to-open rate: this metric shows a comparison between the number of unique clicks and the number of unique opens. Therefore, you can get a better understanding of the ways in which your subscribers engage with your emails. If you have a high click-to-open rate, this means that your subscribers like your content.
  4. Conversions: This shows the number of subscribers, who after clicking the CTA in your email, completed a specific action such as making a purchase or signing up a petition (usually leading to fulfilling your campaign’s goal).

If you’ve set up a goal and created your email marketing strategy with the above-mentioned points in mind, then you’re one step closer to seeing high ROI (return on investment) as a result of your efforts. shared a study conducted by Litmus in 2018, which states that email marketing’s return on investment is 38:1 on average. And this is great because it means that if you’ve invested 1 euro, you’ll get 38 in return! So if you want to accomplish such high ROI rates, it’s important to remember that email is, after all, a wheel in the huge marketing mechanism of your company. Therefore, you’ll need to always coordinate your efforts and convey a consistent message on all of the communication platforms of your business, including email.

Crafting a perfect email: the checklist

So here we are, finally moving forward to answering the big question: “How to write an email that actually works?”. You already know that whether or not you’ve created the perfect email depends on many factors, such as: who’s the recipient (the particular audience segment you’re sending this email to), on which stage of the flow/funnel is this email intended to be sent out and how did the previous emails of this particular flow perform. And although there isn’t a set and stone method through which you could perfect your emails, we can let you in on some key details, that should be taken into consideration, no matter what type of campaign you’re executing.

⬚ First and foremost, you need to make sure to grab your audience’s attention by crafting interesting, curious, and fun subject lines and preview texts. They need to be short and clear, but most importantly, they should provoke action (you want your customers to open this email, don’t you?). It’s a good idea to personalize your subject lines by adding the name of the recipient. Additionally, adding numbers in your subject lines can increase your open rate. So, for example, instead of “We’re offering a discount on our latest products”, your email subject line should look like this: “Sarah, Get €20 Off of Your Next Order ”. Additionally, it’s important to craft engaging preview texts (a snippet of text, shown right next to the subject line of an email). The US alcohol delivery company Drizly nailed it with those lines: Subject: “It’s scary outside.” Preview text: “Here’s $5 to stay in”. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your creativity and your ability to craft short, sweet, and engaging email subject lines. (and preview texts, of course)

⬚ You need to make sure that your copies are clear, corresponding to the goal of your campaign and providing relevant information to your target audience. Writing an email copy isn’t much different from writing for a web page. Therefore, you need to make sure to follow a logical structure, to keep your paragraphs short, and to include one main idea in each paragraph. Don’t hesitate to add subheadings and bullet points, as this will make your content easily readable and scannable. Additionally, don’t forget to segment and provide relevant information to each of your segments. Prepare different emails for the different types of subscribers you have and avoid conveying general marketing clichés. Don’t deceive your subscribers by making false promises. Furthermore, keep in mind that hyperbolization and over-use of adjectives can sound spammy, so it’s best to stay away from it.

⬚Another point, that you need to consider when creating the perfect email, is its design and visual elements. If you run a campaign without visuals, then you’re definitely a bit old-fashioned and you’re probably hindering your email marketing efforts. Pictures, GIFs, and videos as well as other visual elements, which have the purpose of enhancing your content, are essential for grabbing the attention of your customers. If you don’t provide colorful (or dull if that fits your company’s style) images for the consumers, they will simply not read your content and in some cases, even unsubscribe from your mailing list. Strategically placed pictures can direct users’ attention towards the CTA (call to action) button. Additionally, adding pictures or using different colors for your CTA’s can also influence the number of clicks they get. Furthermore, when it comes to email marketing, we can really say that “A picture is worth a thousand words”. As shares, the human brain processes images 60, 000 times faster than text. So don’t forget to add some high-quality visuals in your emails.

⬚We already touched upon this, however, we cannot stress enough how important it is to have call-to-action buttons in your emails. By adding a CTA, you’re ensuring that your customers are able to easily continue interacting with your brand even outside the borders of their email inbox. In other words, you’re providing means through which the conversation can be continued. Furthermore, CTAs will prevent confusion, because users are told exactly what to do. You can have more than one call-to-action buttons in an email, however, make sure to emphasize on the one, which is of most importance for the completion of your campaign’s goal. Additionally, the text of your button should be clear, so that users know what to expect when they click on it. It’s a good idea for your CTA to lead to an appropriate for the specific campaign landing page. By creating an enticing, connected-to-the-topic landing page, you’re ensuring that each step of your customer’s journey is purposeful and pleasurable.

Additional Tips:

  • When it comes to email marketing, timing is important and can significantly benefit or hinder your performance. If you were a restaurant owner, for example, and you want to send out an email promoting your happy hour (buy one get one for free), it’s best if you send your email in the afternoon, rather than at 7 am in the morning.
  • When adding visuals to your emails, don’t forget to fill in the metadata. This will help email clients understand your content better, and therefore your emails will be less likely to be redirected to the spam folder.
  • Always optimize your campaigns for mobile devices.
  • Add the social media icons of your business in the footer section of your email. Additionally, you should also include an “unsubscribe” button, as it is required by GDPR.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure that your actions are always GDPR compliant. You can get in serious legal trouble otherwise!

If you’ve ticked all of the boxes on our list, chances are you’ve created a pretty good email. That being said, the points mentioned in this article are by no means all of the details that you need to pay attention to when creating a strong email marketing campaign. You need to always follow the latest trends and learn about new email marketing tools. It’s a good idea to subscribe to your competitors’ newsletters, so you can monitor their activity as well.

Don’t worry, if you’re feeling lost and don’t know where to start. Interval is always ready to help. If you need any assistance with creating and implementing high quality email marketing campaigns, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

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