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7 tips for writing emails that get opened, read and acted on

by | Copywriting, Writing emails

Email offers superb ROI for small businesses that do it well. Follow these seven tips for writing emails that get opened, read and acted on.


In this increasingly digital and social media-driven world, have you ever wondered why you still receive so many emails?

It might surprise you to know that:

Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. McKinsey

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “My customers are bombarded with emails every day. Why add to the administration they create?”

Here’s the thing. Research tells us:

72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. MarketingSherpa

What’s more:

Marketing messages are five times more likely to be seen in an email than via Facebook. Radicati

Still not convinced?

Emails that get opened, read and most importantly acted on, follow fundamental rules.

  • First off you need to respect the fact you are sending content to people’s personal inboxes.
  • Then you need to provide recipients with useful, helpful and relevant information.
  • What you mustn’t do is bombard people with promotional puff.

Let me show you how you can write an engaging email. Here are seven easy tips.

1. Write to one person, not many

Remember, people’s email inboxes are personal. So don’t write to the many. Write with the recipient in mind. In fact, write as if you are talking to a friend.

2. Be relevant

The day after British Summertime ended and the clocks went back one hour, I received these two emails.

  • ‘Enjoy 15% off all lighting.
  • ‘Start the new season with a knit.’

The day after Bonfire Night I received this email:

  • ‘The countdown to Xmas is on!’

What do you notice about these email subject lines?

They are timely and provide me with an offer that’s relevant to the season.

Of course, it’s equally important that you align your message with your subject line

3. Pay attention to your subject lines

Here’s a statistic you need to pay attention to:

“47% of people open emails based on the subject line alone.”

To create subject lines that emails recipients want to open and read:

Appeal to your reader’s self-interest

Make your marketing 2x as effective at 1/2 the cost

Instil a sense of urgency

Daylight savings: Ends tomorrow

Spark your reader’s curiosity

Meet me in London?

What’s more, keep your subject lines to six to seven words maximum.

4. Don’t ignore preview text copy

Preview text is the snippet that appears below the email subject line.

Many email clients let you write preview text. Do take your email client up on this offer. The reason? Preview text gives you another opportunity to convince recipients to open your email.

Depending on your email client, you have ninety or so characters available to you.

So make sure you use these characters wisely. Try to sum up your offer in a way that’s compelling.

5. Write an attention-grabbing introduction

Be clear about why you are writing to your recipient.

Prove your value to your email recipients upfront.

Let your readers know what problems you can solve for them.

To keep your reader’s interest, avoid jargon and keep your messages to the point.

6. Be clear about your goal

Know what it is you want your reader to do as a result of reading your email. Then include one call to action.

Use simple, friendly, yet direct language. Eliminate any perceived risk your reader might have about taking the next step.

7. Add a P.S.

Reinforce your message by adding a post-script to your email. Remind the reader of your offer. Add a clickable URL to send your reader to your landing page.

These seven steps sound simple, and they are.

To sum up:

Email provides an excellent return on investment for small businesses that do it well. The results speak for themselves. Follow these seven tips for writing emails and you’ll get your emails opened, read and acted on. Better still, you’ll:

  • Open up a two-way dialogue with prospects and clients
  • Build relationships
  • Generate enquiries

What could be better?

And finally

If you would like help writing persuasive communications, then do get in touch. You’ll be surprised at how straightforward writing can grab your audience’s attention.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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