Tips for creating compelling emails

Using email marketing

Time to complete:

9 minutes


For some small businesses, the prospect of writing content for attention-grabbing emails and determining the right cadence for sending them can feel overwhelming. This lesson offers practical advice to help you learn how to write great emails and offers tips on when to send them to keep your audience engaged.

How to Make Effective Subject Lines

In this video, you’ll learn how to create attention-grabbing emails.

In order for customers to read your emails, they have to open them first. And the best way to make sure customers open and read your emails is to write great subject lines that grab their attention and add value to their day.

Think about what you see when you glance at your inbox. You’re greeted with a series of subject lines and sender email addresses. That’s why it’s so important to create subject lines with relevant content that make a strong first impression and inspire your recipients to open your email and learn more. Here are three things to keep in mind when drafting your subject lines:

Keep subject lines short and simple

It can be tempting to include everything you think is important about your email in the subject line. But ultimately, that’s not the subject line’s purpose. You want to grab your audience’s attention and get them interested in reading more.

We recommend keeping subject lines to 10 words or fewer. Entice your audience, but don’t overwhelm them.

Use subject lines to make a good first impression.

Avoid subject lines that trigger spam filters

Modern spam filters have gotten extremely sophisticated, using algorithms to identify spam emails en masse. To do this, they have lists of tell-tale words, phrases, and characteristics that might inadvertently block your business’s email from landing in your recipients’ main inbox. Here are some things to avoid:

  • All caps text. While using all caps certainly grabs people’s attention, it’s often used by email spammers. Most spam filters will block emails with all-caps subject lines.

  • Too many special characters. Many spam filters will block emails that use excessive special characters in the subject line to draw attention. Avoid using exclamation points (!) or bunching together dollar signs ($$$) and similar characters. Additionally, we recommend writing out the word “percent” instead of using the percent sign (%).

  • Trigger phrases. This is where the sophistication of spam filters gets tricky. Many are programmed to block phrases like ”save now!” “while supplies last,” “free,” and “% off” as they are frequently used by spammers.

Include relevant and personalized information

Include relevant information by getting straight to the point and telling customers why they should open your email. “Holiday offers from [My Business Name]” and “New hours starting December 1st” signal to recipients that important and relevant information is inside.

Most email marketing services also allow you to personalize email subject lines by automatically including the recipient’s first name or the name of their business. This is a great way to give your subject lines a personal touch that catches your recipient’s attention.

How to make your email content compelling

If your subject line did its job, your reader will have clicked into your email — congratulations! Now, the next step is to make the body of your email as valuable and compelling as possible. Here are some key things to consider as you look to create useful, timely, interesting email content.

Provide useful insights

Not every email needs to offer a discount to be useful. Offering tips and tricks, valuable advice, or educational content helpful to your audience are all great ways to keep recipients excited about getting your emails.

For example, if your business manages wedding registries, giving engaged couples insider tips and advice from recently married couples about how to make their wedding days run smoothly could be tremendously useful to your audience.

Make sure your content is timely

Time is of the essence, and your emails should be, too. Last-minute holiday gift guides, updates about new seasonal hours, and your business’s response to relevant news and current events can all help your emails stay timely and valuable to recipients.

Offer creative ideas related to your industry

It’s important to remind your audience that they can trust your business to be an expert and thought-leader in your industry. Emails are a great way to provide creative ideas and thought-starters that demonstrate your expertise.

For example, the wedding registry site mentioned above could give couples creative ways to turn bridal bouquets into keepsakes.

10 email content ideas

Applying these principles to your emails, here are a few thought-starters on compelling topics for your emails:

  • Announcing new products or services
  • Advertising an upcoming sale
  • Suggesting other products based on recent purchases
  • Sharing a cheerful holiday message
  • Promoting fun events you’re hosting or sponsoring
  • Updating people on important industry news
  • Providing helpful tips and tricks
  • Offering answers to frequently asked questions
  • Highlighting a blog post or other content you’ve recently written
  • Sharing positive feedback from customers

How often to send emails

Succeeding with email marketing isn’t just about the content of your emails. Your timing matters, too. Sending emails too often — or not often enough — can negatively impact their performance.

Consider starting your promotional and sales emails on a monthly cadence, and adjusting your frequency as you add different types of emails to your strategy, and based on the performance metrics you observe (like open rates and click-through rates). We recommend testing different times and frequencies to find the sweet spot for your particular business and audience.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating compelling emails with attention-grabbing subject lines and great content that keep people engaged with your business, ready to act on your latest email, and excited to receive your next email.