Getting the message right is key.  In this section we will discuss:

  • The content
  • The subject line
  • The From Address
  • Personalising the email
  • The call to action
  • The preview pane
  • Use of images
  • Closing the email
  • Feedback

The Half-a-Second Subject Line

When your email arrives in your subscriber’s inbox, you generally have about half a second to catch their attention with the subject line of your email. After this, they will either delete your email or ignore it. In your subject line, try and specify a benefit that the subscriber can expect by reading your email. For example, instead of using ‘OurSite Newsletter Issue #1′, use ‘OurSite Newsletter: 10 Tips for Financial Freedom’.

The length of the subject line can prove important as well, especially when reading on a small portable device.  For best read results keep the subject line between 30-50 characters.

email marketing subject line length read rate

Always wanting to know which subject lines work best in email campaigns Zarrella survey found that the most clicked on emails contained the words: posts, jobs, survey. See the graph below for more detail.

most clicked subject line words

Email Marketing - Most Clicked Subject Line Words

The From Address

 Make sure your From Address is relevant to your email campaign. Consider having it personalised by using a named contact. Remember you are trying to avoid the reader from skimming down their list of emails and deleting yours purely based on a bad From Address.

The Power of Personalisation

If you were standing in a crowded street, which of these would get your attention: “Hi, YOU!” or “Hi JOHN” (assuming your name is John). The power of personalisation can and should be used in your emails. In fact, by simply starting your email with “Hi [subscriber_name]” instead of the boring “Hi there”, you can increase both your reading and click-thru rates by up to 650%. Why? Put simply, it’s because your subscribers feel like they already have a relationship with you as you’ve addressed them by their first name.

The Content 

Make your message relevant: Sending emails which are not relevant to your prospects is the number one way to get them unsubscribing from your email list. That means you must have a consistency of message. If someone signs up for PR and marketing tips, for example, they don’t want to get emails from you pushing air conditioning units.

Call to action

One of the crucial elements of an email marketing campaign is a clear call to action.   Your email layout should show exactly what you want the recipients of your message to do and the design of the message should make that path clear for the recipient, and easy to follow. 

Don't distract with too many links or offers, and make not only the call to action clear but also what recipients can expect when they click through. This can be as simple as "Click here for a 10% discount on your next weekend trip." or "Click here to read the full article".

The Preview Pane

Popular email clients such as Microsoft Outlook show a preview of an email when it’s selected in your inbox. Always have some interesting content at the very top of your email, as this is the part that will show in the preview window of your subscribers email program. If it’s interesting enough, then your subscriber will open your email and continue on reading.

Always Sign on the Dotted Line

Always include a signature at the bottom of your emails, as it’s one of the easiest ways to attract more traffic to your website. This signature should include your personal details, your company details, and an unsubscribe link. You can use your signature to link back to your website, and even to other products.

Note that UK Companies must by law include certain regulatory information in their emails. More information can be found in the section on Law.


Don’t be afraid to ask in your email for feedback either by reply email or by visiting your website or a specific URL just for this campaign.  Specific URLs are a great way to measure the success of your campaign and the click-throughs from it.


Always pay careful consideration to the layout of your email. For example it's a bad idea to purely have images and graphic content at the top of the email because all the reader sees in the preview pane is blocked content which the recipient needs to allow just to read your email.

Of course I'm not suggesting you don't use images at all but consider the layout especially when you consider your email is going to get filtered by the reader purely by the contents of the preview pane regardless of email client (desktop or mobile clients)

The chart below shows that only 20% of recipients will read the entire message once you have made it past the preview pane filter. A further 50% of recipients will read most of your email so it's important to make sure your layout is good and the content of the message relevant to the reader.

percentage of messages read

Email Marketing - Percentage of message read


In this Series

Don't miss the rest of this series on email marketing. Follow the links below for the full article.

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