How to Write Marketing Emails That Get Results

To some, email marketing can seem antiquated and even prehistoric when compared to more cutting-edge tactics such as SEO, social media, and mobile optimization.

Although it may not be the sexiest of strategies, there’s no denying that it still gets results.

In fact, “email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.” Just take a look at how it compares with other methods:

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Also, you are six times more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.

What about ROI?

For each dollar spent, email has an average ROI of $38. Impressive. Here’s how Adobe paints the picture:

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And it gets better.

Email marketing is easy.

Check out this data from MarketingCharts.com:

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Email tops the list of “most effective” digital marketing tactics. But look! It’s also easy!

Results? ROI? Easy? Effective?

Email marketing is killer. It works. It’s awesome. You need to do it.

But in order to truly harness the power of email marketing, it’s important to understand the psychology behind it and to know how to write emails that get results.

The statistics say that email marketing is effective. But statistics tell only part of the story. Statistics can’t predict whether your email marketing efforts will be effective.

In order to create a successful email marketing campaign, it’s crucial to know the tricks of the trade. Getting people to notice your emails, open your emails, click on the stuff in your emails, and respond to your emails is tricky.

Download this quick how to guide to write marketing emails that get results.

Here are the fundamentals of what I’ve learned over the years.

1. Getting emails opened

Half the battle is getting prospects to open your emails.

Research from HubSpot found that companies with 1-10 employees typically receive a median open rate of 35.3% and companies with 26-200 employees receive a median open rate of 32.3%.

Here’s another look at the stats from SmartInsights. Find your industry in the list, and see how your open rates compare:

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These numbers aren’t exactly staggering.

I’ve found that the key to maximizing my open rate is making my emails as personal and interesting as possible.

For instance, I suggest using your first name as your from address.

Why do I suggest this?

The data says so. In one survey, researchers asked “What most compels you to open a permission based email?”

I know what would get me to open an email: the from line!

Do I trust the sender? Do I want to hear from them? Do I like what they write? Is it going to help me in some way?

The best way for me to find that out is by looking at who sent the information.

Just take a look at these numbers. The from line is leading the subject line by double!

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Most people are already drowning in emails and don’t want to open something from some questionable corporate entity. But many are willing to open something from a real person, who is reaching out to them one-on-one.

If you are signed up to receive emails from me, you expect to see “Neil Patel” in the subject line.

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I wrote the email, so I might as well be the one sending it.

Besides, it gives you, the reader, the authentic sense that you’re hearing from me as a person, not some disembodied email marketing software.

2. Writing a captivating subject line

If your subject line is uninteresting, uninspiring, or mediocre, your email is likely to get passed over. Also, if it gives off a spammy—used car salesman—kind of vibe, it’s probably going in the trash.

How do you grab attention with the subject line?

I’ve found that addressing a common issue or concern works well.

For example, you might promise that the contents of your email can help solve a problem, provide readers with valuable information to improve their lives, or make them happier.

Buffer knows that their audience wants to hear about social media tips. That’s why they use subject lines like this one:

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Throwing in some power words that stimulate readers and appeal to their emotions can have a tremendous impact as well.

Here are just some of the power words you can use:

  • amazing
  • mind-blowing
  • jaw-dropping
  • blissful

You get the idea. I recommend that you check out this list of 317 power words from Smart Blogger for more ideas.

Here’s something I do to save time and effort and increase effectiveness of my email campaigns: I use or repurpose my blog article titles as my email subject lines.

This doesn’t work for every industry or email marketing campaign, I know. But it works for me. The goal of my email marketing efforts is to help people with great content. That content, of course, lives on my blog. So, I might as well use the title of my article as my subject line.

3. Pique their curiosity

Finally, you’ll want to make it so that readers are so intrigued by the subject line that they can’t resist opening your email.

You’ll want to pique their curiosity and leave an information gap that can be filled only by clicking.

For instance, a B2B company might use a subject line such as “How to Double Your Sales in Just 30 Minutes.”

One of my highest open rates came from an email I sent asking for people’s help. I genuinely needed and wanted the response of my readers.

When I asked for readers’ help, it created an information gap between my request and the point of my request. Why did I need help? The result was an insane level of open rates.

I’ve seen other great marketers do the same thing. Jayson DeMers, for example, created this email subject line that caught my attention:

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He even used a smiley face.

4. Writing a killer opening line

Now that you’ve gotten readers to open your email, you need to draw them in deeper with an awesome opening line.

This is probably more important than you might think.

Why do I say this?

Because the subject line isn’t always the first thing that people see!

GASP!

Yeah, I know you’ve been told that the subject line is the most important element of an email. As I explained above, however, the from line seems to have a higher level of impact on whether or not the email gets opened in the first place.

But is that all? The from line and the subject?

No. The first line of the email is important too.

Most email browsers today display a portion of the message directly in the email browser. You don’t have to open the email to read a small section of it.

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Depending on the length of the subject line (and the viewport of the browser), the body of the email has two or three times as much visibility!

It’s not just desktop email programs that do this, though. Don’t forget about mobile devices!

Most mobile email apps show the opening line.

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So, what do you write in your opening line?

I like addressing each reader by their first name. This comes across as being personal and authentic, which is key for getting them to read on.

I also like to avoid the classic “Hi, my name is…” routine.

Instead, I prefer to opt for something like “I noticed that you…” or “I saw that we both…”

This approach helps the reader relate to me better and faster. I gain their attention by drawing upon a shared experience.

Make sure you get to the point of your email from the get go. Preliminary chatting might turn off people who simply want to find out what the email is about.

Just get right to the point so that you can make an instant connection.

Notice how Jacob McMillen did this in his email:

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Writing like this will earn the respect of your readers. You value their time. You give them what they need. They get on with their lives.

5. The body

This is where it’s time to really connect with your reader. It’s your opportunity to show how your product/service can provide them with real value and improve their life.

I suggest keeping it short and simple and not overloading your reader with extraneous information.

Remember, the point here is to gain their attention and build some initial rapport. You’re just looking to warm them up to advance them through the sales funnel.

You’re not necessarily going for the jugular right away.

Be sure to break up text into short, digestible paragraphs.

I also suggest speaking in second person and using you when speaking to readers.

Ask personal questions to give your email an intimate feel as if you’re talking face-to-face.

I think HubSpot gives some good examples of this:

  • Do you have unanswered questions about [topic]?
  • How, if at all, would you like to improve your strategy?
  • Is [benefit to them] a priority for you right now?

If you’ve ever read Ramit’s emails, you know he does a great job with this. The paragraphs are short. The tone is personal. And the whole point of the email is spot on: it’s filled with helpful, actionable information.

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6. Nailing the closing

Besides the subject line, the closing is arguably the most important part of an email.

It’s the point where a reader will decide whether or not they want to act on your offer and proceed any further.

The goal here is to wind down and transition into a well-crafted call to action (CTA).

What do you want them to do next?

Maybe it’s to check out a landing page, sign up for a course, download an e-book, or straight up buy a product/service.

Whatever it may be, your CTA needs to be crystal clear.

Tell them exactly what you want them to do next, and make sure there’s no guessing what that action is.

Some of us have the mistaken idea that we need to sneak in the CTA or somehow hide it in the email so it’s not so obvious. Please don’t make this mistake.

Your CTA is the money of your email—the reason why you’re sending it in the first place. Make it strong, unmistakable, and absolutely clear.

This email from StackSocial, while not exactly personal, does have a great CTA. You can see it directly in the body of the email—the place where my eyes are first going to look.

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7. Creating urgency

Here’s another thing I’ve learned.

Many people have a tendency to procrastinate. Maybe they’re wrapped up in something at the moment or just aren’t in the mood to complete your desired action right now.

This is no good because once they close an email, the odds they’ll come back to it are slim to none.

That’s why it’s vital to create urgency so that they feel compelled to take action right away.

Most marketers complain that the “most challenging obstacle” to their email marketing is getting people to take action by clicking on the call to action (or whatever the click goal of the email is).

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I’ve found that setting a tight deadline tends to work well for this.

For example, you might say that an “offer expires tomorrow,” or “get it before it’s gone,” or “only 10 spots left.”

This is essential for getting a prompt reply.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that email still matters and can be just as effective as many of the newer marketing tactics.

It’s easy to get distracted by creating a sizzling-hot Twitter strategy, building a Facebook group, or starting your live video channel.

Those are all great things, and I don’t discourage you from implementing them.

But email still works—although not on its own.

To truly get results, it’s necessary to follow the right formula and understand the mindset of your readers.

By following these techniques, you should be able to increase both your open rate and response rate.

How does email marketing stack up against your other primary marketing channels in 2016?

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Comments

  1. Marc Marseille :

    Thanks Neil for this great article. I have just really started to take my email marketing campaigns seriously. I have good open rates, but I am a little off on the CTR…Looking forward to implementing your tips here…Thanks

  2. Dear Neil, still I have read to the remaining topic. I know it shall be equally good as others from you. Feedback is important so i am giving you it at real moment. Link to power of 317 words seems unnecessary here. No body have time to check 317 words. For me If Neil is suggesting me to do that, i still would not go there to read. Rather I would doubt how Neil, the minimalist, can suggest such a thing like 317? Please check the blogger that is not in sync with the Neil philosophy.

  3. Great tips Neil. Question: What’s the secret to taking a personal approach (subject line, greeting) with people you do not know all that well? How do you not come off like a cheesy used car salesman?

  4. Daniel Bowers :

    I will use some of these tips. What I would like to know or maybe I missed? How to make sure your email list isn’t going to spam? Half my list has @companyname.com.

    I was told they were bad emails. Personally I think google offers those emails but rewards those that use @gmail.com.

    Please point me to your blog on this issue. If you haven’t done a blog, I won’t charge you for the idea:) I’m sure I’m not the only one that has this issue. Every email I have is directly from a customer.

  5. Niel, In fact It’s one of the great contents I ever read about email marketing. Can you please suggest some reliable email verification or maybe list cleaning software? I want to verify email addresses which I have collected in a last couple of years and I would like to clean the emails which no longer exist. Please help!

  6. Yet again some beautiful tips on Email Marketing. Thanks Neil you are incredible.

  7. A very quick but sincere thank you, Neil.

    A most useful agenda that, touch wood, I can implement soon. Logical, and so clearly written, referable and/or memorable – thank you.

    Have a good weekend.

  8. Jonathan Dune :

    G’day Neil –

    Nothing new to see here. Basic copywriting 101 skills remain needed to write an effective email or ANY type of message sent via social media. As in:

    Subjectline = Headline
    Opening body copy = First line of the email
    Offer = Offer
    Closing = links to story or shopping cart
    Delivery method = Delivery method

    Most that attempt the process are lacking in basic copywriting skills. And many of these same individuals assume that the tried and true methods of off-line copywriting are outmoded. That mistake is why many fail online.

    The noise of many emails/tweets and the like coming in is just that, NOISE. The same old problem of disruption in attempting to get an individuals attention is again the problem. Too much.

    The individual needs to refocus to a targeted group. Build a list of people who WANT to read what it is you write. Stop trying to be all things to ALL people. There is quantity in quality.

    After over 40 years in this industry, I can repeat that things have not changed even in today’s over-hyped internet online digital world from the long standing print medium, television, or radio.

    Good knowledge of basic copywriting remains the best tool.

    Cheers!

    ~Jonathan Dune
    ole school marketer/copywriter
    JonathanDune.com
    Two Comma Copy Pty Ltd

    P.S. Marketing is still marketing, no matter what you call it.

  9. Cine Pakistan :

    Great tips on Email Marketing. Thanks Neil you are amazing bro! God Bless You.
    Now I must use email marketing

  10. Thanks for the information.. i’ll help me in my work..

  11. Great post as usual Neil.

    Can you please list the best email marketing tools and suggest a few?

  12. uthman saheed :

    Most times, I receive email mails from Jon Morrow and the likes and I will like WOW!!! How did these guys write such an imaginable message. They are always captivating and provoking actions.

    You just exposed me to how things are done in the marketing world. Am yet to start anything concerning marketing for now. Thanks for this.

  13. Another awesome & very informative article on email marketing. I have learned a lot on how we can write email in more effective way to generate more results as well as other new marketing channels importance in comparison with email marketing.

    As email subjects is most important part in email marketing you have suggested some tips on email subject writing which is very important and useful.

    Also we have an article on email subject writing :- http://help.pnshostings.com/14-tips-for-writing-good-email-subject-lines/ Hope this article will help you other users here to write better subject lines.

  14. Cathrine Friberg :

    Thank Neil for an intressting article. I am still strugglering with bad Open rates and this helped me a lot. I will test some of your ideas and see how it Works for Me.

  15. I always try write some catchy headlines and subject lines to But still do not get expected result from my email list.

  16. Creative Solutions :

    Thank you niel for the article

  17. This is just a good concept but to get such ROI we need have right plan, because only professional e-mail marketing can not help us, we also need to have right hosting, a good domain name and of course content in the blog to get good ROI from out of it.

  18. Getting people to respond to your mail is probably the hardest part.

    Neil, what, in your opinion, is the best way to get the other person to reply back?

    Here are some ideas that worked for me:

    Personalise the message. No surprise there, right? The good thing is personalised mails always have a good response rate. The bad part is that the research phase is a little time-consuming, and it only works if you are targeting one person at a time. Slow! 🙂

    Follow-ups and cross-platform interactions/conversations can also boost the response rate. Here again, it’s a highly personalised tactic. One person at a time.

    Do tell me if you know some magic spell to make people hit the reply button!

    Thanks a ton, Neil!

    • A lot of people are busy. Actually spend the time to engage in their content so they know. They’ll be more likely to respond to you

  19. Awesome post Neil and topic of your post is really great.

    I have a question apart from this post. How can a website rank on tops in google with only 1-2 back-links. Because i have a website who rank top in google with only one back-link. and it’s competitors have a enough back-link to rank on top. so how it’s is possible?

    My website is http://www.dnapaternitytestinginc.info, and keyword is “DNA testing San Jose”.

    waiting for a positive reply.

  20. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips Neil.
    As suggested by others, email marketing tools and how to use them effectively will help a lot.

  21. Rennie Bottali :

    Email Marketing with good text can drive quality traffic.

  22. Nice one, I was looking for some awesome information on driving results through email campaigns.. Neil thanks again!!

    Thank you

  23. NetReader101 :

    Thank You For giving us Some cool info

  24. MaxCDN Coupon :

    Another amazing and extremely enlightening article on email Marketing. I have taken in a considerable measure on how we can compose email in more successful approach to create more results and in addition other new showcasing diverts significance in examination with email promoting.

    As email subjects is most critical part in email promoting you have proposed a few tips on email subject written work which is essential and helpful.

  25. Eduardo Cornejo :

    Hey Neil,

    Amazing post, and just in time for me.

    As important as an email list is, do you know anything about their impact on a young demographic (males 18-24; fitness website), compared to an update sent via Instagram or something?

    Thank you!

    Eduardo

  26. Amazing information for people starting out. Great post Neil. Very timely as I fine tune (well, tune) my email marketing strategy and tactice. Thanks for the post.

  27. Jahangir Siddiqui :

    Thanks Neil for writing this awesome post and with examples. It saves lot of time and I’m implementing your tips to increase my traffic.

  28. Bican Valeriu :

    I would love a post about how to make your emails to land on inbox instead of offers or spam. Thanks in advance 🙂

  29. Family Travel Blogger :

    I totally suck at this. Thanks for the good advice on outreach.

  30. Thanks Neil for the awesome tips! I’m a firm believer in email marketing, and I even quoted that same “40x more effective than Facebook or Twitter” stat to help convey its importance to the music industry: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/music-promotion/social-media-dead-for-music-marketing/

  31. Great post. A lot of people as of now are only focusing on social media,but when I read this blog it makes me realize that it is a unique style using an email marketing which is others disregard only.

  32. Thanks Neil!
    I really need this. I have also noted your 4th point earlier. Anyway.
    Can you tell me why your this mail is in my spam folder?

    • It happens to the best of us 🙂

      • I think you already know that not only this post mail but 4 more post’s mails are still in my spam folder.
        Don’t you think that lots of people unaware of that mails and will deleted without reading?
        So, In this case what we do if it is happen with our mailer?
        Hope you reply.
        Thanks!

        • A great thing you can do when someone subscribes to your site is to tell them on the thank you page to add you to their contacts, or create an inbox rule so that the emails to go to the promo/spam filter

  33. Hi,
    I’m bit new in email marketing but i will use your tips to get some sales.Thanks for sharing you r experience with us.

  34. Awesome article – I recently setup an autoresponder for people signing up for our free SEO audit. I ll try to improve the email sequence with your tips, thank Neil! Do you recommend threaded subject lines or new/different subject lines for different mails?

  35. Who knew the from line is more powerful than the headline? Thanks, Neil!

  36. Thanks Neil!

    Great tips on Email Marketing. Thanks your all posts are amazing God Bless You.
    Now I must use email marketing….

  37. You guys are probably going to hate me for saying this but I can’t help but immediately notice that many of the headlines and opening lines referenced here come across as extremely spammy (especially Jacob and Ramit).

    We live in a world now where people, except those living in a closet or naive (either way equal non-ideal customers for a number of reasons) are desensitized to this kind of clickbait language (eg “11 Shocking Tricks You Never Knew……” etc.), use of capital letters, and more.

    I really try to keep an open mind and especially not be too cynical about things like this but I feel there needs to be a proper balance here between true value and genius marketing.

    My best emails are always those that get to the bottom of exactly what people are seeking but sound like they’re being stated in casual conversation. Hands down.

    Just throwing in some opinion in the mix here but not to deter from all the value you provide, Neil. Thanks as usual.

    • Thanks Steve, I appreciate your candor as this is a pretty controversial topic. It really depends on your audience and how sophisticated your audience is. I agree, in many industries that style has been over used

  38. Great analysis seriously

  39. its really helpful even i was confuse how to start “email marketing” and now i will surely implement this subject and form line tactics
    Thanks

  40. Mohammad Rizwan :

    am new in email marketing i read your article thanks for sharing your knowledge

  41. Hey Neil! Thanks for sharing such recommendations, I always follow yours =)

    I am wondering how you manage to end up in my Primary mail tab on Gmail every time, even if you never asked me to put you in there. I need my communications to be directed to my clients’ Primary tab but asking them to manually move my emails does not work. Asking them to answer my email does not work either.

    I am using Mailchimp, only text, personalised recipient’s name, no pics/no links.

    How do you succeed then?

    Thanks so so much

    Alessandro

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