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How to Write a Winning Marketing Email

How to Write a Winning Marketing Email image

Email (still) isn’t dead

The number of ways a brand can connect with their audience has grown exponentially over the decades—think mobile apps, Alexa, Google Home, chatbots, and more. However, email remains one of the top ways companies establish and grow their relationships with their customers.

According to HubSpot, almost 60% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. What’s more, millennials now make up the majority of the U.S. workforce, and 73% of them say they prefer communication from businesses via marketing email.

So, when the average worker receives about 121 emails every single day, how do you stand out?

The answer: Relevant content.

Here are some best practices on how to craft a winning marketing email that will keep your customers and bottom line happy.

Best practices for writing an engaging marketing email

Crafting relevant content sounds straightforward in theory, but what does it actually entail? As you begin, here are some questions to guide your writing:

  • What’s the goal of your email? There should only be one. This could be increased conversions (e.g. downloads or form submissions) or engagement (higher click-through rates, etc.). The ultimate goal of email marketing is to drive people to action. It just depends on what you consider success for your specific campaign.
  • Who is your audience? Use language and terminology they understand. It’s best practice to always write in plain language, avoiding jargon or technical language. Most people read their emails on a mobile device, so ensure your content is easy to skim.   
  • What value will they get from the content? How is it relevant to them? The ultimate question is, “What’s in it for me?” Tell your readers what benefit they will receive from reading your email. Put the most important information first and write for comprehension (cue the inverted pyramid).
  • Where does this fit in the funnel? Write to where the reader is in the customer journey. Use the key message and content format to help you determine this. For example, if the key message of your email is to “Learn a better way to measure your digital marketing campaigns” and the content format is an ebook, this educational piece is likely situated at the top of the funnel.

If you have a firm understanding of the answers to these questions, that clarity will serve as your “North Star” as you build out each part of your marketing email.

First impressions

Step one is to catch people’s attention and get them to open your email. Here’s how to make a stellar first impression.

Subject line

Your subject line will serve as the hook to get your reader interested in what you have to say. To hook them in, highlight a specific benefit. Ultimately, you want to create a sense of urgency so they open your email sooner rather than later (when they’ll likely forget). Best practices mark the most successful subject lines around 41 characters – about seven words.

Pre-header text

The pre-header text supports your subject line and provides a brief preview of your email content. It’s imperative to put the key message towards the beginning since there’s really only room for 85-100 characters.

Composing the email

After you’ve piqued your audience’s interest by getting them to open your email, you need to keep them engaged. Here’s how to craft the main body of your content to do just that.


The introduction sets the tone of your email and convinces your audience to continue reading. Frontload the most important information in the beginning. That way, if a reader only reads the first paragraph (which is likely), they’ll still be able to get the gist of the email.

Main body

This is the meat of your content and tells readers what they will get out of this marketing email. Keep your copy concise, easy to skim, and action driven. Most people don’t read web content—they skim—so use short paragraphs (2-3 sentences each). To achieve this, you can incorporate subheadings and bulleted lists to break up the text. Most importantly, you should write in a conversational tone. Avoid acronyms and jargon whenever possible.

Call to action

After reading your email, your audience should know what to do next. What action do you want to take? Make your CTA explicitly clear. For instance, if you want them to download a white paper or case study, include a CTA like, “Get it now,” “Check it out,” or “Read more.”

Before you hit “Send”

Nothing hurts more than sending a massive email campaign riddled with avoidable mistakes. Before you launch your email, double-check that all necessary links are included and work. Proofread your copy and ensure that fresh eyes review your work. Last but not least, run through the proper channels to verify the copy has been approved by the appropriate stakeholders.

Then you’re all set to hit “Send!”

After you execute

Once your email is launched, it’s important to assess its performance a few days after it’s sent. Here are the top key performance indicators (KPIs) you can review to determine whether or not it was successful against industry benchmarks:

  • Open rate: How many subscribers opened your email? The subject line, preheader text, and topic of your email affect the open rate.

·      Click-through rate (CTR): The CTR of your email is determined by the content, flow, and calls to action (CTAs). It measures how many users actually clicked at least one link in your email.

·      Click-through-to-open rate (CTOR): The CTOR is the percentage of openers who also click in your email. The DG team considers this our most important engagement metric because it gives us a clear idea of how engaging our content truly is.

·      Unsubscribes: The number of people who unsubscribe from an email send. What causes unsubscribes? Over-sending and poor content.


Follow these pointers and you’ll be well on your way to writing high-converting emails. And when you’re ready to take the next step, you can “AMP up” your emails to increase interactivity and engagement (see what I did there?) For more inspiration, check out some prime examples at Really Good Emails.