How To Write Emails That Get Opened and Inspire Action

Written by Kara Burns


Email marketing is one of the most popular ways for companies to communicate with current and prospective customers. However, inbox overload has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to cut through the noise and get their emails opened.

Read on to learn 7 areas where most marketing emails fail to engage recipients, and to get tips on how you can create email blasts that get opened and inspire action.

7 Common Email Marketing Mistakes:

Weak, ineffective subject lines

One of the first mistakes many marketers make is writing subject lines with the wrong goal in mind. Because your email’s subject line is the first thing recipients see, it has to be strategic — otherwise your email’s performance will suffer.

When crafting your subject line, start by identifying the value your email has to its recipients. From there, your job is to convey that value as concisely as possible, and in a manner that makes it crystal clear what action you want recipients to take.

Below are a few examples of great email subject lines:

  • Shop now - savings end at midnight
  • Get a FREE website SEO analysis w/ one click
  • Caution: This email contains extreme savings
  • This email might save your life

Scheduling emails on the wrong day / time

Most marketing emails are sent Monday - Friday during normal business hours. However, depending on the audience you’re trying to reach, this may be hurting your performance. According to HubSpot, approximately 30% of people check their email between 6pm and midnight. That means emails sent before lunchtime are likely buried at the bottom of those individuals’ inbox, which can easily get them ignored or deleted without opening.

The most important thing to keep in mind when scheduling future email blasts is that you won’t be able to determine the optimal send time for your target audience without proper testing. Try testing out different days and times to see when you get the best response!

Sending Emails From A Generic Address

Whether you’re sending an email to a group or an individual, having a personalized “from” address will help increase your open rate. Think about it: Are you more likely to open an email from contact@xyzcompany.com, or steve@xyzcompany.com? This one simple change can have a dramatic impact on your open rate — give it a shot!

Lack Of Personalization

Personalizing emails takes time, but can be well worth the effort. At a minimum, you should personalize your email for each recipient by including his / her name in the opening — the ability to dynamically insert a recipient’s name into an email comes standard on most modern email marketing platforms.

To take things up several notches, sophisticated email marketers can use subscribers’ known website visitation, product browsing, social media and / or order history to help transform bland, generic email blasts into highly personalized communications.

Best practices for personalizing your next email blast:

  • Make it relevant — Show recipients you care by sending information that directly relates to them, such as: a follow-up to an event they recently attended, fresh content you added to a blog post they recently read or tips on how to get the most value out of the product they just bought from you.
  • Make it timely — Timeliness and relevance go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to remember that people have short attention spans. If you don’t send a time sensitive email to subscribers within a few days (4 or fewer) of an event or action they were involved in, the chances of them opening your email are slim to none.
  • Make it valuable — If your eCommerce website’s analytics show you a prospective customer has viewed one of your products multiple times over the past week, but has not yet purchased that product, why not send him / her a coupon or discount code good for $X or X% off of that item? The customer will appreciate the personalized attention and savings, and you’ll appreciate the sale. It’s the definition of a win-win! 

Ignoring Mobile Devices

Most email marketing platforms allow you design your email while simultaneously previewing its appearance for desktop email users. However, according to the Pew Research Center, 52% Americans send or receive emails from their mobile device.

To ensure a great user experience for recipients — regardless of the type of device they use — try keeping your emails short and sweet, and don’t forget to use your email marketing platform’s mobile preview feature(s) to ensure that your email’s design and content both look as sharp on mobile devices as they do desktop computers and tablets.

Not Including A Clear Call-To-Action (CTA)

If your goal is to prompt the recipient(s) of your email to download your newest white paper, it’s up to you to make it as simple as possible for him / her to do so. Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The same is true of email marketing: “You miss 100% of the conversions you don’t ask for.”

When creating your CTA, use clear, actionable language. For example:

Click one of the links below to schedule your free, no-obligation in-home estimate:

  • Monday at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday at 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday at 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday at 9 a.m.

This CTA is effective because it makes it crystal clear what action you want the reader to take, it gives the reader flexibility (while also limiting his / her options) and it requires minimal time and effort on the part of the reader.

Emailing Too Frequently

Don’t let impatience get the best of you if an email doesn’t produce immediate results! Sending frequent emails may seem like the best way to quickly achieve your goal(s), but doing so often does more harm than good — marketers who email too frequently risk annoying subscribers, which almost always increases opt-outs.

Chances are your email marketing platform has tracking features that will show you which emails have been opened. That information can be extremely valuable to you when determining when to send your next email blast, and to which subscribers. Another way to avoid over communicating with your email subscribers is to divide your email list into targeted segments. Doing so will allow you to send relevant, personalized emails to small segments of your email list — without annoying every subscriber.

We hope these insights and tips are helpful to you the next time you create an email blast! Leave us a comment below if you’ve got more tips or advice about best practices for email marketing :)

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