Person hand taking chalk drawn email sign
September 13, 2018 By Courtney Stallings

How to Write Emails People Will Read


Good email marketing is sending emails to people who want to receive them – but even that doesn’t mean people will read the emails and click through to your offer.

Use these tips to improve your emails' open rates, clickthrough rates, and lead generation potential.

DO NOT buy email addressesPerson hand taking chalk drawn email sign


Abide by email compliance acts/laws

Several laws guide the use of email marketing and personal information for commercial purposes, including the CAN-SPAM act (US), the CASL Laws (Canada), the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations of 2003 (UK), and the GDPR (EU).

Follow their rules to avoid significant fines (and possibly being charged with a misdemeanor).

Write your own preview text

Some email clients display text from the body of your email beside the subject line; frequently, it’s the first 50 (or so) characters, so if your email starts with a greeting – “Hello, friend” – you’re missing an opportunity. For an extra chance to engage your audience, write the preview yourself (in 50 characters or less), succinctly describing your offer where recipients can’t miss it.

Add alt text to your images, including the call-to-action (CTA)

Many email clients block images, including CTA buttons, so a significant portion of your recipients won’t see your carefully designed CTA. But that doesn’t mean the CTA isn’t useful or important – if you use appropriate alt text, it tells your audience where to click and what they’ll get when they do.

Appropriate text is descriptive and actionable: “Click here to download your marketing to-do list.”

Hyperlink images

Although more clickable content can increase your clickthrough rate, cluttering up your email with more text isn’t the answer – clickable images are. Images attract more attention than text, so if you’re offering an ebook (for example) include the ebook’s cover image and link it to the corresponding landing page.

Make sharing easy

  • Add social sharing buttons: Many email tools have built-in social sharing buttons that make this easy – insert the destination URL into the right button, and you’re good to go. (Note: Not social follow buttons – those connect your recipients to your various social media accounts. That’s still good, but it won’t increase your clickthrough rate; social sharing buttons pass along your offer’s URL, expanding its reach.)
  • Create ready-made tweets: People might like your content but won’t share it because, well … they’re lazy. Many people will only act if you make it super easy – try using ClickToTweet, a free tweet link generator. Create the tweet, link it to your Twitter sharing button, and all they have to do is click.
  • Add an email forwarding option: Another way to spread your content and increase clicks is to invite recipients to share your offer. A simple “Share with your network” option implants the idea of sharing and a ready-made CTA makes it easy.


Optimize for mobile users

 Here are some ways to make emails easier for your mobile readers.

  • Reduce image sizes to make up for mobile’s generally slower download speeds. (Try TinyPNG.)
  • Make CTAs and links larger than 57 pixels. (MIT found that the average size of an adult index finger is 2 cm, which is 57 pixels on a mobile device.)
  • Keep your CTA above the fold. Smaller screens equal more squinting, scrolling, and zooming – some people will never make it to the CTA at the bottom.

Test emails before you send them

Before you hit “send” to your mailing list, send a test version to yourself and check it on your laptop/desktop and mobile device to ensure it will work properly everywhere.

Clean up your contact list.

It's tempting to keep subscribers until they opt out, but again, don’t underestimate laziness. Some subscribers are uninterested but too lazy to opt out, so they just never open your emails – killing your open and clickthrough rates. Clean up your lists so they exclude recipients who haven’t opened X number of emails.

We know email marketing can be tough, but stick it out – the right offers to the right people in the right emails will increase your opens and clicks. Aren’t sure you have the time to concentrate on all the little details that make an email perfect? We can help!

About Author

Courtney Stallings

Courtney writes and edits content for Leading Results and their clients. She has been described as a Grammar Nazi and enjoys crafting writing with excellent spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

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