Email Content Tips

Email Content Tips For First Time Designers

Email Marketing is a great tool for every business to keep in touch with their customer base. It’s almost like chatting up a long-lost friend! Only slightly more technical. It’s very easy for customers to mark your emails as spam if they do not find your content relevant. But don’t you worry because in this article we have answered some of the most pressing questions people have about email content tips. For first timers, this is a mine of information, and for pros – well, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself of the best practices every now and then. Let’s begin, shall we?

Question: Is writing an email like writing copy or content, or a mix of both?

Answer: The difference between copy and content is pretty subtle, but it is important for writers to understand this. If you Google for email content tips, the top results will tell you that it’s important to keep your email short. You will also find tips for writing good email ‘copy’. Personally, as a writer, I believe that an email is a prime example of copywriting, though the nuances of it can vary depending on the requirement. So, let’s look a detailed look at each aspect of writing emails:

1. The subject line

The first of the email content tips is to write a compelling subject line. Now, I do believe that a good subject line is the key to getting good open rates. This part of your email is pure copywriting, and trust me it takes a while to master it. The ask here is to write a short phrase or line that is clearly understandable, and yet is intriguing enough to make the reader open the mail. Bonus points if it’s different than what your peers have been using. You see why it’s difficult?

An important thing to consider while writing a good subject line is to not use words that can potentially land your mail in the spam folder. HubSpot has a list of never-to-use words which can prove handy. You can also do an A/B test when sending out emails to your customer base for the first time. This will further inform you about your potential customer’s tastes and whether they are more enamoured by wit and humour, or clear and precise copy. If it’s any help, here are some subject lines from a brand that I absolutely adore.

Emails from Urban Ladder have catchy headlines

2. The body

Once you have the subject line pinned down, you need to move on to the body of the mail. There is a plethora of literature on email content length best practices. Depending on whether it is an offer announcement, a festival greeting, a newsletter, or a more personalised mail – the length can, and should, differ. Remember when Flipkart’s Big Billion Days went kaput some years back and they sent out a long apology mail to everyone? Would the apology have sounded as sincere if the company had just sent out an email with the words ‘We’re Sorry’?

Apology email from Flipkart on failure of their tech product on Big Billion Day

Context is very important when writing any brand communication, and the same goes for your email content guidelines. Don’t be a miser with your words when they are needed and don’t overdo them either. Take Dropbox’s emails, for instance.They are the ideal email writing samples. They are always to the point and never too word-heavy because they do not need to. Compare this to the Flipkart example and you will see why.

Succint emails from DropBox

Question: Are there any words or phrases to ensure that my email skips the spam filters?

Answer: Yes! Do run through the HubSpot post we mentioned earlier. Also, take note of the following pointers if you don’t want your brand’s creativity and reputation lost in the vast quagmires of the SPAM folder:

  • Use CTAs in your subject line. An email is an advertisement for your brand; akin to an elevator pitch. Treat it like an ad copy and use CTAs wherever you can.
  • Be clever, but comprehensible. It is fine to use puns and metaphors occasionally, but again they have to be understood by your consumers. Take Slack for example. The brand very clearly professes its love for clear and legible copy, and the emphasis it places on being understood. Humour sells, but trying too hard only makes your brand unlovable.
  • Don’t be a grammar Nazi when it comes to subject lines. Keep your punctuations to a minimum. Use the simplest synonyms from the thesaurus. And most importantly, err on the side of simplicity.
  • Use subject lines that appeal to your customer. Digital Marketer has a post on their best performing subject lines and you can glean a tip or two from this.
  • Try a headline analyser tool like this one from CoSchedule. This will help you try out different variations of the same subject line and see how they are projected to perform.

Question: How many pictures or gifs should I use in my email content? And do they affect the success rate?

Answer: Once again, there are more than one ways to approach this problem and you will find different opinions on the web. Some experts call out the overuse of images as a reason for emails landing in spam. And then, on the other hand, you have emails content examples like the one below from HolidayIQ with a host of images used tastefully.

Email Design from Holiday IQ with lots of images arranged tastefully

The industry standard is to use 1-3 images per mail, with many aiming for the lower end of the spectrum. But it’s not really as much as how many images to use as it is about how well to use them. Undoubtedly, images are a great tool to grab attention. But not all images are equal. Product images will always trump stock photography. Images from actual customers will be appreciated more than photoshopped beauties. The images you use have to fit in with the story you’re telling. As for GIFs, there is no data yet on how they impact conversion rates. But an occasional use of illustrations and GIFs should not hamper performance too much either.

Here are some email content tips for using images:

  • Don’t send image-only emails. Google and Hotmail have image blocking options and as many as 45% of email readers have images turned off by default. As a rule of thumb, use two or three descriptive lines of text for every image in your email.
  • Don’t use heavy images. Format your images well, and use choose between .jpg, .png and .gif as and when required.
  • Use alt text and title text so that if images are turned off, your customer can at least see the alternative text.
  • Don’t use images for CTAs. All of your ‘Click Here’ and ‘Buy Now’ buttons should be formatted text links.
  • Design your email template to work around the image blocking.
  • Devote about 30% of your email space to images, but don’t overdo it. Use text to convey important information. This may be the last of the email content tips for images but can make or break your email.

Question: What else should I remember when writing an email?

Answer: Remember to write it as if you were writing it to yourself! Read it aloud and see if it works its magic on you. The secret of any good brand communication is that it shouldn’t sound like brand communication. The other most commonly asked question among email content tips is the optimal frequency of sending emails. Remember not to send out too many emails as it only gets annoying. E-tailers normally send out emails on Fridays so that customers looking to shop during the weekend have something to remember them by. That’s four Fridays in a month. Add to these any special event-based communication or offer emails, and the count goes up to six or seven. According to this email marketing report, 54% companies send emails 1-3 times a month, while 30% send 4-8 emails a month. There is no magic number, but it is just common sense to not send numerous low-value communications to your customer in a single week or month. The frequency of emails should not mean that you end up sending out emails no one would like to read. Try to maintain a diversity in your email content and the marketing schedule. Apart from sending out product-based mailers, also use newsletters, videos, lookbooks, festival greetings and other formats in your schedule so that your content does not feel repetitive.


When used well, emails can be a promising source of revenue generation for B2B industries. Kissmetrics reports that the number of email accounts is three times that of Facebook and Twitter combined! Even in terms of sheer numbers, email has everyone else beat. So, if you haven’t yet hopped on to the bandwagon maybe it’s time you did so and made yourself some serious moolah with this marketing tool. And if you need more email content tips, don’t forget to ask our experts for help.

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