How to Craft Emails People Actually Want to Read

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The average person sends and receives about 300 emails a day, but less than 15% of them are actually opened. For most consumers, checking their email is a chore and can even be a source of social and productivity-related anxiety.

So how can you make sure your email wins the uphill battle of being something your audience actually wants to read?

I’ll show you how to beat consumer inbox anxiety with some tricks to help your emails become the 15% people open.

Here’s what you’re up against.

Two-thirds of people say email is their most important channel. There’s good reason to utilize the fast-growing marketing avenue—but how can you compete with the over 269 billion emails sent out every day?

Consumer email anxiety is a real thing, and it stems from a mixture of both the massive amount of emails sent out, and the lack of body language and vocal cues in the email process that would typically help make your message feel genuine in the real world.

Maintaining a strong sender reputation with your audience significantly contributes to email open rate. To earn a positive reputation you have to take steps to make sure that your emails are

  • Scheduled, written, and designed in a way that isn’t overloading your audience
  • Emotive and engaging without feeling disingenuous

Here’s how your emails will be a joy to open.

1) Create a subject line that’s personal (and doesn’t look like spam).

Reach out to consumers the same way you would a friend. This doesn’t necessarily mean directly addressing the person by name (although that method has been found to increase open rates by almost 14%). A casual or informal tone can also make a subject line feel more personal.engaging email subject line example

PC: Optinmonster

Emojis, for example, have been found to increase open rates by 43%. Direct numbers and percentages can also increase open rates, such as “Check out our 30% off sale!”

These casual touches can act as the friendly body language your audience is missing in other emails.

Related: 5 Examples of Awesome Email Subject Lines (& Tips to Create Your Own)

2) Keep your email schedule and word count concise.

Of the internet users who unsubscribe from an email list, 69% say it’s because the emails are scheduled too frequently.

And out of the possible word lengths, emails between 50 to 125 words have a 50% response rate.

PC: HubSpot

Tricks to condensing text:

  • Keep your language simple (emails written at a third-grade reading level have a 36% higher open rate than emails written at a college reading level)
  • Skip cliche opening and closing lines
  • Remove jargon and excess prose

Your audience will appreciate and remember you fondly for not spamming them with information.

PC: Constant Contact

That being said, there still should be an emphasis on storytelling, which can be lost if your copy goes too short. For example, emails that are shorter than two sentences get a response rate of just 36%. Hitting the sweet spot of around 20 lines of text is important.

3) Use images and colored fonts appropriately.

Poor design contributes to 16% of what consumers consider most annoying about emails. Don’t confuse or overwhelm your audience. Images and colored font should only be used to help convey information.

Some design tips:

  • If you’re sending out a survey, include an image of a poll instead of your company’s products
  • If you’re sending out a promo, highlight the name of the product rather than your company’s mission statement
  • If you have a banner you created specifically for your monthly newsletter, don’t mislead your audience by putting it in a sales email

Check out how Cuyana relies on the bright colors of their product to attract your eyes to their promotional email, as opposed to brightly coloring all their font. This allows Cuyana’s new purses, the main focus of the email, to immediately standout.

PC: HubSpot

Think of using images as the body language you would implement in a real world conversation—your audience intuitively relies on both.

4) Use analytics to see what your audience wants.

Most email marketing softwares, like Constant Contact and MailChimp, will show you each individual email’s performance. Within a campaign of several emails, you can see the open rate, click rate, and the average time your audience spent reading each email.

most important media channels

PC: Marketing Charts

The average expected ROI for email marketing is $32 for every $1. This makes email marketing reports the most valued type of data used by small businesses.

If a large percentage of your audience isn’t opening a certain type of email, it may be time to make some changes.

Maybe people love your fun promos, but your newsletter is putting everyone to sleep. Take a look at how your content lines up with your goals for each.

  • Newsletter: covers general updates or news about your company on a consistent schedule
  • Promotional: highlights a new product or service your company is offering
  • Survey: asks your audience for direct feedback on how you’re doing or what they’re interested in seeing from your company

Use email marketing reports to put energy into the types of emails that are working, or make improvements to the ones that don’t. 8/10 businesses are using data in the same way.

5) Send out test emails to improve ROI by 16%.

Once you hit send, there’s no way to make edits. Are you double checking your email to see if your text is

  • Error free
  • Written in a way that you would speak in the real world

If you don’t take time to make sure your email is in top shape for your audience, your audience will wonder why they should take time to read it. Of the most annoying aspects of emails, 23% of consumers said poorly written emails were the worst. Remember that your copy and content need to draw people in while making you look professional and trustworthy to build your reputation.

For mass newsletters and sales emails, Constant Contact and MailChimp have the option to send out test emails to your co-workers and supervisors first for a second opinion.

PC: Constant Contact

Companies that do test their emails before sending them out have a ROI that is 16% higher than companies who don’t.

6) Have you gone mobile?

Speaking of testing emails, different email clients can change the look of your email if you haven’t gone mobile. This is important because over 70% of consumers read their emails in a mobile app, while just a little under 70% of consumers immediately delete the email if it displays poorly.

Related: How Does Mobile Email Engagement Compare to Desktop Rates?

In the same way you can send out test emails, Constant Contact and MailChimp allow you to test and edit mobile versions of your email.

PC: Mailchimp

Major email carriers have mobile responsive emails, so they flex between device sizes, but it doesn’t hurt to manually make your emails mobile friendly as well.

The best ways to keep your emails mobile friendly include:

  • Concise design and content
  • A conservative amount of images
  • A clear purpose and goal

So pretty much like all the other tips we’ve covered, right?

Here’s your call to arms.

As a rule of thumb, consider whether or not you would want to read the email you’re about to send. If you’re getting overwhelmed writing it, your audience will most likely get overwhelmed reading it.

Want to try these tips? Send out a test email or survey to a handful of customers asking what they prefer. Classic direct feedback almost never fails.

Related: When is the Best Time of Day to Contact Someone?