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Effective Email Marketing: Creating a great email

You’ve targeted your email campaign for the right people, and optimised the content and subject line to maximise engagement. So once your subscribers have actually opened the email, how do you give them a great experience?

Here are a few key steps to creating a great email that your subscribers will want to read – and share.


Great design is the first step to drawing readers into your content. Most subscribers spend less than 15 seconds looking at your email – a pretty short window for grabbing their attention and convincing them to click through.

An engaging image or graphic at the top of your email is a great way to pull the reader in, but keep in mind that many email clients block images by default. As you design your email, think about how it will look with and without images. Adding descriptive alt text to images helps subscribers know what’s supposed to be there and a well-structured design keeps everything looking organised.


You’ll also want the design of your email to be consistent with your brand, which likely means it will look similar to your website. This helps to reinforce your brand identity and provides a more consistent (and less confusing) experience for subscribers.

You’ll probably want to have an email template designed specifically for your organisation, as creating an email layout from scratch requires some pretty serious coding skills. You can also choose a template provided by your email marketing software – just look for one that’s easy to customise so you can make it feel as close to your brand as possible.

email-opens-graph-200And since almost 50% of emails are read on smartphones and tablets, your template should also be mobile responsive. In fact, if an email doesn’t load well on a mobile device, you could lose more than 40% of your readers.

Finally, make sure the design doesn’t look too cluttered and that key information is easy to find – especially the main call to action. Try to keep the call to action near the top of the email, so readers don’t have to scroll too far to find it. And for those who do read further down, include another link or two for the main call to action in the body of the email as well.


Writing content for an email is much the same as writing anything else for the web – shorter is generally better, and content that’s easy to skim is key. Make text concise and compelling, but with enough info (or a link) for those who want to read further.

The AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is helpful for structuring your content and thinking about how subscribers move from opening your email to actually clicking through.

  • Attention: Use a heading, combined with a strong image, to draw out your key message and capture the reader’s attention right away.
  • Interest: Most people skim the first few words of a sentence before deciding whether they’re interested, so make your introduction engaging and to the point.
  • Desire: Tell the reader why they should complete your call to action. Data or testimonials are helpful, but something simple like a deadline (i.e., “sale ends tomorrow!”) works too.
  • Action: Give the reader a clear call to action and make it easy to follow through.

sbn-captionThe most important thing to consider when writing your copy is whether it fits into your campaign strategy and stays on topic for the target audience. Refer back to the notes from the planning stage of your campaign to be sure you’re communicating the right message for your audience and your goals.

Use a similar writing style to that of your website, blog, etc. to create a consistent experience for readers. A conversational tone often works well in emails – just be sure it’s in keeping with your brand.

When you’re working hard to send a campaign on deadline, it’s easy to leave proofreading to the last minute – or skip it entirely. But well-written (and correctly spelled) content is essential. Spelling mistakes not only damage your credibility with subscribers, they’re also common in spam messages, meaning that too many mistakes could impact deliverability rates. Make sure you set aside enough time for a thorough edit before the email goes out.

As you’re building out the email, remember to look at it from a subscriber’s point of view – is it visually engaging? Is the content relevant and valuable? Is it clear where to go next?

By meeting these criteria, your email will be more likely to engage with subscribers and achieve your campaign goals.

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