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How To Create Quality Emails That Convert

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Is email marketing dead?” – Every year, all sorts of different online businessmen from every corner of the world tend to ask themselves this same old question.

And why shouldn’t they? – Time is money, people. No one wants to spend it on doing something that doesn’t create any significant ROI for them.

As social media and blogging have grown more popular, and the way on how people consume information is constantly evolving, one cannot help but wonder if email is still worth adding to our digital marketing mix.

I don’t know about you, but every day of my life my inbox is bombarded with all sorts of different proposals. Some of them are smart,  and other’s, well – not so much.

This is a scenario that happened yesterday: I was sitting in front of my computer, communicating with a client about the possibility of migrating his website to our servers, and just out of the blue, and email makes his way into my inbox, with the subject line (I kid you not): “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG – THIS IS HOW YOU MARKET YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE”.

As I finished reading the title of this email, without a single doubt in my mind, I immediately moved it to my trash container.  Then I asked myself: “Are people still doing email marketing this way? In 2016? Really?

The obvious answer is yes because I still keep getting this spammy and irrelevant emails. Having all this in mind, I’m willing to bet that people who send whose types of emails are the very same ones who are constantly preaching how email is dead, how’s there no ROI there, and how we should all exclude it from our marketing strategy.

Contrary to the above-mentioned opinion, email is still not obsolete.

In fact, it’s still pretty much alive and kicking.

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Recent surveys indicate that email marketing is actually on the rise, and is seen as the most effective way to directly interact with your opted-in consumer.

Same as everything else in this world, email is changing. It’s evolving and we have to keep up if we want to make it work for us. These days, if you want to see people engaging with your emails, the content that you send out through it needs to be much better. It needs to have some real and unique value for them. If not, your recipients will just ignore your messages.

Same goes for growth. How you generate email leads is much more focused around social now, but that’s ok – we can adapt!  

When it comes to email marketing, one of the biggest problems isn’t just WHAT to send your leads, but HOW TO phrase your proposals. If you want your emails to convert and provoke all sorts of different actions, you need to figure out a way on how to effectively deliver your information to your targeted audience. You need to design a framework that will instantly grab your recipients attention and force him (or her) to really sit down and read what you’re sending to their inbox.

So, having all of this in mind, once again, I decided to reach out and ask all sorts of different industry experts the following question:

How to Create Emails that Convert?


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My company is filled with nearly one hundred email marketing nerds, who spend countless hours trying to teach the world about successfully marketing a business online in today’s world.

We just wrote a (rather lengthy) web book on everything to know when launching an email marketing campaign. We’ve covered everything from how to design an email that converts to best practices that ensure your emails are delivered.

Here a few of my favorite tips drawn from the book:

Tip #1: Think like a copywriter and make the copy about the audience. Get into their mind’s and figure out what really matters to them. Treat the situation as if they have a problem and you have the solution. If you lay out exactly what they have to do in order to relieve their pain point, you will increase your ROI by leaps and bounds.

Tip #2: Keep it brief! You can never count on holding your readers’ attention for too long, even if you wrote rockstar copy.

Tip #3: Create a sense of urgency because everyone suffers from F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) in some sort of way. If your offer expires in a limited time, mention it in the subject line. Just be careful to not create fake scarcity as your readers are smarter than you think (see next tip).

Tip #4: Be honest and straight-forward. Your readers will be running for the hills if you promise something you can’t deliver on.

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There are 5 main takeaways I’ve learned from sending thousands of outreach emails. They are:

Takeaway #1: Think about how your pitch relates to something relevant to the blogger or business. For example, mention an article they wrote, a recent social media share/comment, or a project they are working on.

Takeaway #2: Think about how to relate your pitch to something that is top of mind to the recipient. Are they working on a new case study, or did they recently launched something? If you can tie your pitch into that, they will take it more seriously.

Takeaway #3: In order to stand out from the hundreds of emails people receive weekly, you have to be creative. What’s one channel that you can go through that most people are overlooking?

Takeaway #4: If you’re asking someone to take a chance on you and your brand, build credibility by referencing your following as well as additional brands you’ve worked with.

Takeaway #5: Just because you hear a lot about personalization, does not mean that it should be viewed as cliche. Take it seriously and you can dramatically reduce your outreach efforts by focusing on some key prospects.

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Spreadsheet Sherpa has been practicing email marketing for quite some time now. So, without further delay, here are the five keys points to writing emails that convert:

Provide real value immediately. You only have a few seconds to show people how you can help them. Don’t tease them – start your email with great content right at the top.

Go light on images. Big images at the top of emails used to be the way to catch people’s attention, but over the last several years it just sets off the spam alert bell in people’s brains! Feather in images through your email to break up the text, but substance of content is most important. Scanned copies of handwritten words work great as an alternative to an image or text (as long as you have nice handwriting)!

Mail Merge to use first names and customized messaging. A person’s own name is their favorite word to hear or see – start the email with it.

Make them like you, and there’s a better chance they’ll like your product. Professional but playful, cool but helpful, seems to be the right voice for attracting new customers.

Clearly define costs. You must establish what your product or service costs them in clear terms, so that there are no hoops for the customer to jump through to see your prices. And don’t devalue yourself or your service just to get attention!

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We at Appleton Creative believe that when writing an email for customers or leads, brands should focus on the following things:

Design (for Eblasts and Newsletters Specifically)

The design should entice your audience while still getting your point across. Many people don’t have the time to sit and read through an entire email at once. They do have time to skim through your content and determine what is worth reading at the time. Instead of having your content set in a large block of text, organize information from the most important to the least important and set content into smaller sections so it’s easier to digest.

Mobile Optimization

If your messages aren’t mobile-friendly, there is work to be done. The design you’ve worked so hard on may not be functional or come across the way you intended on mobile. It’s important to proof emails and ensure it’s compatible on every device and platform. In reality, we use our cell phones to check email – 40% of messages are opened on mobile first.

Concise Subject Lines

One of the easiest ways to draw in your audience and get them to open an email is the subject line. Thirty-three percent of consumers decide to open an email based on the subject line alone and emails with subject lines containing 30 or fewer characters (ideally 1 to 2 words) have the best open rates.

Powerful Language

Power words make your email stand out amongst other mail in your audience’s inboxes. The inclusion of power words in your subject line or in the beginning of an email brings forth emotion or a connection for the audience you’re trying to reach. Without trigger words in the subject line, body copy or calls-to-action, only 6% of users will take the action you’re hoping for.

Personal Touch

Adding a personal touch to your emails will make your readers trust you and make them feel included. By adding personal notes to the subject line, you boost your open rates by 22.2%. The subject line isn’t the only place to use names and other personal details – the body of your email, greeting or signature also help your email seem less like an automated message sent to a laundry list of people.

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We at SEMRush believe that correct segmentation is the key to email marketing success. Based on research conducted by MailChimp, segmented campaigns yield 14.64 percent higher open rates than non-segmented ones. That means you need to know your target audience well and divide your email list into different segments. Group your contacts by location, age, gender, interests and so on.

The second most important thing is that your email should be designed for user experience. If you want your audience to engage with your email campaigns and respond to them, you have to give them an awesome experience by:

Being consistent with your design

Your landing page and email should be visually aligned.

Keeping your design simple and clear

Make all the pages in your sales funnel consistently branded, so they can be easily identifiable with one single company.

Keeping the promise made in subject lines and email copy

Make sure your email copy elaborates on the promise mentioned in the subject line without distracting the reader’s attention with different several topics – this will never work to your advantage.

Creating emails with a responsive design optimized for desktop and mobile

According to research by Emailmonday, 45 percent of all emails are opened from mobile devices. You really need to pay attention to how your email looks on different devices. The best solution is to create a responsive design, but that can be time-consuming. For a simple solution, you can use a single-column design, reduce your image sizes, use large-size fonts and make your CTA buttons touch-friendly.

Creating short, catchy subject lines containing numbers and questions

Numbers are always a good choice for capturing the readers’ attention, as they make your statements more informative and to the point.

Finding the optimal sending times for different regions

You can spy on your competitors’ email campaigns to see what their preferable email-sending time or day. One common no-no is sending emails on Mondays and weekends, as this usually results in low open rates.

Presenting your content in a clear and simple way

Make your paragraphs short and easy to read or scan. People don’t have time to read long emails, so explain your main point from the very beginning.

Creating irresistible, relevant CTAs in the form of catchy and easy-to-find buttons

Make CTAs visible and touch-friendly. Use buttons, not links, and place them above the fold. It is always better to use larger font sizes with increased spacing.

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