5 Keys to Writing Engaging Email Content that People Will Actually Read

Every day, many of us receive promotional emails from businesses that we have interacted with or purchased from. The vast majority of these emails go unread, and lists become unsubscribed. This article will look at the benefits of email marketing, and how startups can write engaging email content that drives sales rather than sitting in unread spam filters. 

By 2021, there will be upwards of 4.1 billion email users worldwide. With more than 269 billion emails being sent every day, email marketing is still hugely important. Yet, across industries, only about 24% of emails are ever opened. We all can relate to the experience of sifting through inboxes and deleting marketing emails en masse, and no entrepreneur wants to have their hard work spent crafting and sending sales emails go to waste.

Writing engaging content for your emails, tailoring your content to specific market segments, and making use of email marketing technology can all help your emails avoid falling short.





Clear call to action

When I receive an email from a retailer or subscription list, I want to know exactly why I’m receiving it. Do I have something left in my online cart? Is there a sale going on right now? Let your readers know exactly what the purpose of your email is in the subject line. Use clear, actionable language in the headlines of your emails (“Buy now,” “On sale”) so receivers know exactly what to expect when they open your email. Wordstream reports that emails with clear calls to action increase clicks by 371% and sales by 1,617%, so this is a fast and easy way to address the root issue.

Emails that seem pointless and lack a purpose are far more likely to be deleted without being opened. Having an attention grabbing headline that lets your readers know right away what to expect when they open your email incentives click-throughs, which in turn leads to higher rates of conversion.

Personalize your emails

Personalized emails are more engaging and foster a stronger relationship with you and your customers. A study by HubSpot found that emails that were personalized had a 17.6% open rate, where emails without personalization have only a 11.4% rate. Raising your open rates is the first way for you to raise sales conversions, so even a few percentage points increase are significant. There are marketing services available for email that will customize content for you, so there’s no reason for you to lack personalization.

Engaging content sells

Whether your emails are confirmation emails for sales, outreach for new business, or for marketing, your content needs to be clear, well written, and engaging. Overly wordy emails with paragraph upon paragraph of text aren’t engaging. If you have a lot of content to share, take an eye-grabbing sentence or two and include a hyperlink back to your website rather than cutting and pasting the entire wall of text into a single email.

Some of the best writing advice I ever received was to get to the point quickly, but not too quickly. It’s a balancing act, but you want your readers to walk away with exactly the amount of information they need, no more and no less. If you’re having a sale, let them know that, but pass on including your company’s mission statement in the email. If you’re confirming a sale, include relevant shipping or tracking information, but save your latest product feature for a separate email. Pick and choose what content you send via email, and measure your open rates over time to see what type of content is most appealing to your subscription lists. Use that information to tailor your email marketing approach going forward.

Optimize your emails for mobile

More than 54% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Optimizing your content for mobile viewing is not a nice to have, it’s a need to do. Depending on your audience, particularly if your market segments target Millennials and Gen Z, up to 77% of your emails are being opened on mobile devices. Emails that aren’t viewable on mobile (think “image cannot be displayed” or distorted visuals and text) are far more likely to be deleted than emails that are displayed correctly. Having emails that aren’t viewable on mobile is bad optics for a startup, especially if you are in the technology space. You want your brand to be positioned as an innovative member of a sought after industry, and your consumers expect that you know your way around digital platforms and how to optimize your content for different modes of viewing.

Stay on brand

As a startup, you need to know who you are and stick to that messaging. It’s tempting to send email content out that corresponds to external factors, such as holidays, but be aware that following the trends may leave your emails lost in the flood of content coming through from others with the same idea. Your content design should reflect your branding, and your readers should be able to identify your company based on design and language as the sender. For example, if you are a business services provider, you likely don’t need to send out a Black Friday email just because you know they will be receiving hundreds of other emails from other companies. Stay on brand, maintain your voice, and keep your content relevant to both your audience and your marketing goals.

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Cassidy Welter on Twitter
Cassidy Welter
Staff Writer: Cassidy Welter is a Chicago based researcher at a consulting firm specializing in nonprofits. When she's not working, she's reading anything she can get her hands on, debating politics, watching the Pittsburgh Penguins and eating her way across the city's food scene. See more from Cassidy on Twitter at @CassidyWelter.

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Staff Writer: Cassidy Welter is a Chicago based researcher at a consulting firm specializing in nonprofits. When she's not working, she's reading anything she can get her hands on, debating politics, watching the Pittsburgh Penguins and eating her way across the city's food scene. See more from Cassidy on Twitter at @CassidyWelter.

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