When It Comes to Email, Size and Looks Do Matter

By Steve Robinson
Director of National Organizations, Constant Contact

you-have-a-new-messageBefore you hit the send button on your next email marketing campaign, here’s something to think about – the average person received 91 consumer emails each day in 2015 and that number is expected to climb to 117 per day by the year 2019.1 These days, just getting a customer to open an email can be a feat unto itself. But not if you follow these insider tips.

Getting Noticed

How does a customer choose which email to open, open first, or not at all? The first thing they look at is the sender’s name and the subject line. If they don’t know you, it makes it that much harder to inspire them to open your message.

To encourage people to open your marketing emails, take these three critical
steps. First, ask your customers for permission to add them to your contact list. Since email marketing is permission-based, meaning you should have a green light from customers before reaching out, this clears the hurdle of them knowing the sender when the message appears in their inbox.

Second, your email address should be under the name that customers know. This is most likely going to be the name of your business, such as “Patsy’s Pastries,” though in some instances it might be your name, as in “Patsy Smith.” Just be sure to use the name the customer recognizes. 

Third, use an email marketing provider to send your email. While you might have your business email account set up on Gmail, Comcast or AOL, for example, you want to minimize the risk of your messages getting stuck in a spam filter. When you work with an email marketing provider, you’re virtually assured that your messages get through because they have delivery rates of 98 percent or higher.

Great Opening Lines

Now that your email has gotten past the filters and the customer knows who you are, there’s the matter of the subject line. When it comes to writing subject lines, many don’t know where to start or what works best so here are five tips:

• Make sure your subject line is fewer than 50 characters, though 30 is ideal given that more email is read on mobile devices these days.

• Don’t sound spammy. Spam filters apply points to “spam words” (“Free Offer,” “Call now,” etc.) If points exceed a certain amount, your email will go to the junk folder. But, using one or two of these “spammy” words does not mean that your email is automatically headed to the landfill. You can use the word “Free” with an exclamation mark in your subject line, as long as the email itself is not chuck full of spam words.

• Create urgency, just not all the time. When you’re running a special promotion, don’t be afraid to use subject lines like, “Two days left to get your FREE pair of skates.” Just don’t make every subject line for every email sound like the one above because it gets tiring. You also don’t have to say things like, “Act fast, buy now” to create urgency. It can be done in a much more tasteful way, like in the example above.

• Be specific and relevant. The only way you’ll inspire customers to open your email is if they know exactly what’s inside and are intrigued.

• Ask a question. It’s a great way to create engagement and it sparks the curiosity factor.

Looking Good

When it comes to the actual email itself, size and looks do matter. But what makes one email more engaging than another? It starts with the look and feel. Yet you don’t need to hire a graphic designer to have a professional looking email. Use an eye catching template that also gives you flexibility to easily make it your own by allowing you to insert your logo, drag and drop images, and match your brand colors.

You’ll also want to be sure the template is mobile friendly. Since the average person looks at their phone 150 times a day and 53 percent of email is opened on a mobile device, you want to be sure your message looks its best.

You might be wondering, what exactly is a mobile friendly template? It’s one that uses a single-column design, automatically re-sizes images for mobile, has a default font size that’s optimal for mobile readers, and uses a layout that’s built for a clear and concise message.

If you prefer to use regular templates, you can still create mobile-friendly emails. Just make sure you’re using a single-column template so it can be read on any device. Also, use at least a 14-point font for body text and 22-point for your article headlines.

What’s Inside Counts, Too

Of course, what’s inside your email counts, too. The best content provides customers with fresh, valuable insight that also demonstrates your expertise. For example, a yoga studio could offer tips on stretching and relaxing neck and shoulder muscles after a long day at the office. Along with the tips is an offer for a new after-work stretching class.

Taking that yoga example a bit further, aim to personalize your messages whenever possible. While it’s unrealistic to expect that you can send individual emails to everybody on your contact list, you can segment your contacts. For example, break them into subgroups based on recent purchases, location, interests, or the content that they previously clicked on or shared. Use that insight to tweak your content by changing up a line or two to directly appeal to those customer segments.

Also, be sure to keep your content short too so readers don’t have to scroll through a long message to find your call to action. In an analysis of over 2.1 million emails, it was found that emails with three of fewer images and approximately 20 lines of text result in the highest click through rates from email subscribers.

Happily Ever After

When you follow these best practices, customers will look forward to hearing from you and are more likely to share your content with their friends. Just be mindful to not wear out your welcome by sending too many messages. You’ll know you’ve struck the right balance in frequency when customers are actively engaging with you.


1 Radicati Group: Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019