How to Create Captivating Emails People Will Actually Pay Attention To

Emails are a great way to communicate with people and nurture leads. They keep your website at the forefront of your audience’s mind and remind them that they should keep checking you out. After all, your email list will contain those who have opted to receive emails from you. This means that they are already familiar with your brand. Now all you have to do is make sure they pay close attention to everything you’re sending them.

Keep in mind that every email list is unique in its own way. You should pay close attention to what works for your readers and avoid doing what everyone else does. Just because something works for a competitor of yours, doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your company.

Start with good ideas and best practices, and from there tweak your processes to see what works best for your company’s email campaigns and periodically examine your strategy.

Creating Emails Your Audience Loves

The average time that a recipient of an email spends reading the email is 13.4 seconds. That doesn’t give much time to catch the reader’s attention. Emails that include clear and concise high-quality content usually perform better than those that are difficult to follow.

Here are best practices to follow to take your email strategy to the next level.

Make a strong first impression

A good first impression can go a long way. When crafting your email do so with the intended reader in mind. What will they see? How do you want them to react? Keeping this in mind will give you an outline to build off of. Thankfully, there are many previewing options in email clients, so if you aren’t satisfied with the look and feel of your email it can easily be tweaked.

One thing to keep in mind is that some people may have images turned off by default. Be sure to go with a plain background color so that your image alt attribute can be easily read and is descriptive of the image it represents.

At the very top of your email, it’s best to include a link to a web-based version, due to the huge variety of different email clients. There’s a strong chance that some people may not get a good look at the email you send at all. Readers likely will not search through your email to locate a link to a web/alternative version, so it’s your responsibility to make it easy for them to find. A simple “having trouble viewing this email? Click here.” link should suffice.

Use your brand

Your emails should not stand apart from your usual promotional messaging and communication. Instead, they should be an extension of the marketing tactics your company already utilizes.

To keep your emails in line with your brand, logos, colors, and fonts should be carrying over into your email designs. Also, utilizing a template that makes your content stand out is another great way to show off your brand’s individuality.

Brand loyalty creates trust that can be very powerful. Being recognizable and identifiable by your customers will pay off. Since your email list will be full of people that are already familiar with your brand, this is the perfect opportunity to build their trust.

You’ve invested money and plenty of time on company branding and identity; don’t ignore the power that has in your emails.

Personalize your email messages

People enjoy personalized items, so why not do that in your emails? An email with the subject “Spring Sale Offers for Beth Everly” will stand out more in an inbox when the recipient is searching “Spring Sale” in their account.

Email personalization doesn’t end with putting the recipient’s name in the email. For example, Walmart personalizes emails to your browsing and buying habits, giving you the best deals on items you love. To go even further you could target people’s responses to previous email campaigns as well: you may decide that recipients who have read the last couple of emails get different versions to those who have never opened them.

Be mindful that emails with too much marketing-speak and hard-sell messaging are often glazed over by readers. Also, be sure to only use personalization when warranted. You don’t want to cross the “creep line” and get too personal by using customer data to make it seem like you know everything about them.

Implement calls to action

Calls to action can take your emails to the next level. CTAs are the same as they would be on any web page. Make them prominent and obvious to use, highlighted offer codes, big buttons, and banners just as you would on a web page. Keep in mind that if people click on something, they expect to be taken where it tells them it will, so you must have landing pages set up.

Structuring the email well can also help with highlighting CTA’s. Make them stand out with a heading in your email, and for lengthy emails, including a summary at the beginning of the email can be useful.

Send useful content

Remember content is king. The whole point of you sending emails is to get your brand’s name and message out to the masses.

Make your content worthwhile! Be strategic and take your time with it. Make sure it gives your readers some form of value when they read it. Good content can set off a chain reaction. Your content will be forwarded, potential customers will sign up, and you’ll expand your reach and grow your email database with little effort.

Determine what your goals are

Having goals in mind for your emails will make creating content for your email a breeze. For example, if your email focuses on a flash sale then maybe a simple “splash email” will be best, but if it’s a monthly newsletter, then it helps to create goals to organize the news items in order of importance to you and recipients.

Think about how you want the reader to react. Do you want them to visit your website to browse your products? Do you want them to share the email with a friend? Do you want them to take advantage of a limited-time offer? Once you determine your objective, use that to write and format your email.

With any email, it also helps to link back to web content, so if you mention a subject, then you might also provide a link to a more in-depth article for those who want to learn more.

Examine your analytics

Examining your analytics to track the success of emails is one of the most important steps in creating emails that captivate readers. Just think, you wouldn’t launch a website without Google Analytics, so why send an email without tracking analytics? The only way you will know if your emails are successful is by knowing what people do with your emails. Do they open it? Do they mark it as junk mail? Do they forward it to their friends? Do they click on links?

As a minimum, you should be tracking:

  • Open rate
  • Bounce rate
  • The amount of click throughs
  • Spam complaints
  • List grow rate
  • Forwarding rate/email sharing

There are several other email marketing metrics you should track, but these are the most common.

After tracking the success of your email, get your stats together and dig through the results. If you find that people aren’t opening your emails, then you need to examine your subject lines, make sure they’re inviting, and A/B test them on future email campaigns.

What are people clicking on? Are they clicking on your social media icons or products highlighted in your email? If your goal is to increase sales and you find readers are going to your social profiles, you will want to tweak the way your content is presented.

Are you acquiring valid email addresses for your email list? A high bounce rate may indicate that the way you collect email addresses will need to be reexamined.  

If people are marking your email as junk, you will want to figure out why. Occasionally people will accidentally mark emails as junk, but if you see this happening often you may need to rethink subject lines and content. At the end of the day, the people on your email list should have opted in to receive the email, and if they haven’t, then our answer is right there.

A top tip is to jot down what email clients your readers are using so that you can ensure your emails are displaying correctly in the most popular clients. For example, if the bulk of your recipients are using clients with a preview pane, then you should think about which section should be seen first in the pane. This will also provide you with insight on what email clients you should be testing and previewing your email messages in before hitting send.

Creating emails that captivate readers is an ongoing process that will continually need to be updated to meet the needs of your business and customers. The best way to get started is to begin testing different strategies. Find what works and identify what doesn’t. The rest will become clear with time.


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