How Do We Make Better Emails?
Discover key components of compelling messages, learn about crucial metrics for success, and uncover effective tactics to elevate your email strategy.
Email has been around for more than 50 years, resisting the emergence of a slew of new technologies. It’s a staple channel for business communication and sales outreach, so understanding how to craft an effective email is crucial.
In this article, we’ll discuss email marketing vs. email outreach, the essential elements of an attention-grabbing message, the metrics you should track, and the tactics you can use to raise your email game.
Email Marketing vs. Email Outreach
Though often used interchangeably, the purpose of email marketing and email outreach isn’t the same. Distinguishing between these two strategies allows you to choose the right automation platform and tailor your approach accordingly.
Email marketing is about nurturing client relationships. You’re sending emails to the recipients who interacted with your company by purchasing something, requesting a demo, or subscribing to your newsletter. The goal of email marketing is to keep them engaged so you can promote new products, upsell or cross-sell, and get them to buy from you again.
In short, you should use email marketing to stay top of mind with your subscribers, prospects, or existing customers. Platforms like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign are suitable for automating your email marketing campaigns.
Email outreach refers to connecting with prospects you’ve never interacted with before. It’s typically done by sending cold emails to potential clients, partners, or influencers who might have never before heard about your business and what you offer. The intention is to initiate a conversation, elicit a response, and eventually build a meaningful relationship.
So, email outreach is a lead-generation tactic that allows you to quickly and cost-effectively expand your prospect base.
Since cold emails are highly susceptible to being perceived as spam, using specialized cold outreach, prospecting, and sales engagement and automation platforms like Autoklose is a must. Unlike email marketing tools, Autoklose sends your emails using your email service provider, giving you total control over the sender’s reputation and minimizing the odds of your domain being flagged for spam.
The main difference between the two lies in the fact that email marketing automation solutions use their proprietary servers to handle email campaigns. You share the same server with millions of other people and companies. This can have a significant impact on email deliverability and sender reputation. If someone you share the server with engages in spamming and gets blacklisted, your campaigns might be affected too.
This can have a significant impact on email deliverability and sender reputation. If someone you share the server with engages in spamming and gets blacklisted, your campaigns might be affected too.
Our guide discusses email outreach and its intricacies and provides tips for getting your email campaigns right.
What Constitutes a Good Email?
What is a good email? There are many different answers, but we’ll stick to the following: “A good email reaches the intended recipient, gets them to open it, captures their attention with relevant content, and encourages them to take action.”
Regardless of whether you’re writing to a colleague, customer, prospect, someone from LinkedIn, or your boss, you need to follow the best practices that are mostly universal to all types of emails and business situations.
Crafting an irresistible email starts long before you even put your fingers on the keyboard and start typing. You need to lay the groundwork first. Here are some important steps you should take to create a good email per the above definition.
How to Reach the Intended Recipient
Maintain a Clean and Updated Email List
The importance of having a clean list of recipients cannot be overstated. Outdated and inaccurate data can significantly hinder the success of your email campaigns.
Regularly scrubbing your data, removing non-responsive contacts, correcting inaccurate details, and consistently updating your prospect data will ensure your emails don’t get caught in spam traps. These fake or unused addresses are used to lure and identify spammers, and if you’re not careful, some of them might infiltrate your list and get you in trouble.
Define Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience and familiarizing yourself with their pain points, needs, and preferences is one of the most important steps in creating a successful marketing plan.
Your target audience is the group of people most likely to be interested in your product or service. They could benefit from it and have the ability and willingness to buy it.
By knowing who your target audience is, you can personalize your copy and devise strategies to reach them effectively and efficiently.
So how do you do this? If we’re talking about sales, developing your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas can be of great help.
Segment Your List
Sending the same cold email to all your prospects won’t get you far. Our definition of a good email is one that “offers
relevant content,” meaning you tailor your message to the specific needs, interests, and preferences of your recipients.
That’s where email segmentation comes into the equation.
It’s the process of grouping your prospects based on predefined criteria, such as the industry, seniority level,
location, past behavior, age, or anything else relevant to the goal of your campaign. These segments are, in essence, a
way of looking at your ideal customer profile through one or two relevant lenses.
Knowing your ICP and segmenting your list allows you to personalize your campaigns and ensure they resonate with
individual prospects. Having updated and clean data allows you to create lists for your different segments in a way that
the right recipients always get the right message.
Consider Your Recipient’s Time Zone
When sending cold emails, you should take into account the recipient’s time zone and schedule.
Send your email at a time when they are most likely to read it. It may vary depending on their location, industry, and role. Otherwise, your recipients might miss your email. For example, emailing someone at 5 a.m. suggests you didn’t put enough effort into personalizing your outreach.
Autoklose considers your recipients’ time zones when sending email campaigns. It also allows you to predefine several other parameters when you want to send a custom email to a particular recipient.
How to Capture Your Recipient’s Attention
Establish the “Why” of Your Campaign
Getting clear about the purpose of your campaign is critical. Understanding the intent behind an email campaign helps define your goals. It guides your content creation and enables you to measure success.
Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve with your email — promote your brand, educate your audience, sell something, stay top of mind with the existing customers, or warm up new prospects. You can also create a call to action based on the “why” behind your email.
Email templates can be a boon in driving these objectives. They speed up email creation and ensure consistent messaging that’s aligned with your campaign goals.
How to Get Your Recipient to Take Action
All high-converting emails provide value to recipients.
Rather than focusing exclusively on pitching your product or service, your email copy should offer helpful and relevant resources, data, insights, or solutions to address the recipients’ pain points, needs, and interests.
It’s about striking the right balance between promoting your offerings and giving the recipients something useful for free. Essentially, you’re building a relationship rooted in trust and reciprocation. This leads to increased engagement and loyalty over time.
The Anatomy of a Compelling Email
Writing an email that resonates with recipients requires a good understanding of its structure. Let’s discuss the key components that constitute an effective email:
The “From” field is the first touchpoint with your recipient.
It’s a micro-decision point where prospects decide if the email is trustworthy or not. Make sure to clearly indicate the sender, be it your brand name or a representative whose name they could see on LinkedIn or the company website. This detail will add another layer of credibility to your emails and boost your open rates.
A lack of a “From” field can significantly slim your chances of getting your email opened.
The subject line functions as the headline of your email. Concise, intriguing, and relevant subject lines are far more likely to pique your audience’s curiosity and prompt them to open the email.
While there’s room for creativity, the subject line should always match the content of your email. Avoid misleading or clickbait subject lines. While those emails might get opened, they also create mistrust and disappointment, tarnishing your reputation.
That’s why setting the right expectations with your subject line is the best tactic.
🚩Not having a subject line will make the emails in your recipients’ inboxes almost completely invisible. Even if they notice it, why would they open it when you don’t give them any reason or incentive to do so? A subject line is a powerful WIIFM tool, and it can make or break your entire email campaign.
Similarly, having a bad subject line may be even worse than being invisible. A poorly written subject line may make your audience ignore it, delete it, unsubscribe, or worse, report you as spam. A good subject line is a gateway to your email performing well.
Often overlooked, preview text, also known as pre-header text, is like a sneak peek into your email.
This snippet amplifies the intrigue generated by the subject line and encourages your audience to read further. It goes beyond simply following and accompanying the subject line. It provides additional details or highlights the key benefit of your message, illustrating the relevance of your email to the recipient.
When crafting your preview text, it’s vital to keep it concise and intriguing. Just like the subject line, it needs to balance brevity and impact. With only a handful of characters to work with, each word counts.
🚩Not having preview text is a wasted opportunity to entice and persuade your prospects to open the email. This section adds more word count to your subject line, allowing you to expand on your value proposition and spark more curiosity. Poorly written preview text may turn your recipient off, prompting them to ignore, unsubscribe, or report you as spam.
The opening of your email sets the stage for your message. Make it strong, engaging, and focused on the recipient’s needs or interests to foster a connection right off the bat.
These few greeting lines should secure and maintain the reader’s attention.
A compelling opening line should extend the intrigue initiated by the subject line, drawing readers into the core of your message. Make it personalized, so it feels like the start of a meaningful conversation rather than a sales script. Reference the recipient’s name, specific pain point, or recent activity to increase engagement.
Whether you opt for an authoritative, friendly, professional, or casual tone, you should ensure it’s authentic and aligned with your brand voice. An opening that resonates with the reader boosts the chances that they will continue reading and ultimately click on your call to action.
🚩If you start your email with a whimper instead of a bang, you risk losing your prospect’s interest. While “I hope this email finds you well.” may be suitable for your average work or personal emails, it’s too generic for cold outreach.
The email body is the central part of your message that conveys the main idea and delivers on the promise you made in the subject line and opening.
An effective email body is clear and concise, with a focus on a single goal of minimizing potential distractions. To achieve this, you should identify the key points you want to communicate, build a coherent narrative around them, and stick to what’s relevant.
Although your email should provide all the relevant information, you don’t want to overwhelm them with too many details. For the sake of readability, break down any walls of text. Organize your content into digestible paragraphs, use bullet points, and incorporate visuals whenever possible.
Don’t forget about the hook that nudges the reader towards the CTA. It could be mentioning a particular benefit, sparking curiosity, or creating urgency.
🚩The body is where you should clearly communicate your core message, benefits, and unique selling point. If you dilute it with irrelevant or redundant information, your recipients will lose interest in your proposal.
Call To Action (CTA)
A call to action is the pivotal element of every email. It’s where you urge the reader to take a specific action based on what you want them to do. This could be anything from visiting a webpage, purchasing a product or service, downloading a whitepaper, signing up for a webinar, or subscribing to a newsletter.
An effective CTA is clear and compelling. It should explicitly tell the reader what they should do next and why. If the benefit isn’t immediately obvious, highlight it, and make sure your audience knows what’s in it for them.
Some of the best practices for creating high-converting CTAs are:
- Make the CTA prominent
- Use action-oriented language
- Create a sense of urgency
Don’t include more than one CTA in your email because this can take away from your main goal and confuse your audience as to what exactly they should do.
🚩The worst mistake you can make with your CTA is to not have one. Without a CTA, you’ll leave your recipients scratching their heads, wondering what exactly you want them to do and what the next step is.
An email sign-off wraps up your message and is a great way to reiterate a positive tone and strengthen your connection with the recipient.
Aim for a professional, personable, and friendly tone while nodding subtly toward the goal of your email.
It’s a good idea to align it with the CTA and remind your prospect to take action. For example, saying something like “Looking forward to seeing you at the conference.” serves as an extension of the main call to action.
However, your sign-off could be as simple as “Best,” “Kind Regards,” or “Cordially.”
🚩Would you leave a meeting without saying goodbye to your client or business associate? Skipping a sign-off is like doing the same in the digital world. Besides breaching the business email etiquette, not including a sign-off means losing another opportunity to show appreciation, reinforce your message, and make a memorable impression.
Your email signature offers essential contact information and reinforces your brand. You can use it to share your website, social handles, or phone number, making it easier for a prospect to connect with you.
Think of it as a digital business card the recipient can use to learn more about you or your business.
Here are some common pieces of information to include in your email signature:
- Your name and position
- The name of your company
- Business address (if applicable)
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Social media handles
Using a standardized format across all your business emails will ensure your signature appears professional and neat. It will also help maintain brand consistency. Be careful when it comes to adding logos or social media icons. Even though they add a visual appeal, they can clutter the space.
Don’t forget to update your signature whenever you change your position or contact information.
🚩Your email signature is valuable real estate you should leverage to maximize your professional presence and share more information about your company without distracting prospects from your primary message.
Other Factors to Consider When Creating a Professional Email
Besides the essential elements of a good email, such as the subject line, CTA, signature, and preview text, other factors can affect the appearance and impression of your email. Here’s what you should also pay attention to when crafting a professional, engaging, and visually appealing email.
According to a study, the ideal email length is between 50 and 125 words.
Since long emails can overwhelm or bore the readers, short emails are more likely to get a response. Our attention spans have been shrinking dramatically over the past two decades, plummeting to an average of 47 seconds, so you don’t want to force your recipients to read long emails. When faced with a massive wall of text, they will simply close your email and move on to the next one.
However, the 125-word limit isn’t set in stone, and the optimal length may vary depending on your audience, purpose, and tone of your email. You should aim for clarity and conciseness and avoid unnecessary filler words, repetition, or sharing too many irrelevant details.
The choice of fonts can affect the readability and impression of your email.
You should use a web-safe font that is compatible with most email clients and devices, such as Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, or Times New Roman.
These typefaces are also reader-friendly and easy on the eyes. Too many different fonts, sizes, or colors can make your email look messy or unprofessional, so less is more in this case.
As for the font size, stick to the one that’s easy to read, which is usually around 12 points for the body text.
Embrace negative space and minimalism to avoid cluttering your email layout with unnecessary elements that work only to alienate your audience.
Images and Emojis
Although images and emojis can add some visual appeal and personality to your email, they should generally be avoided in professional outreach.
You can use an image, but only in cases when that’s relevant to the topic you’re discussing — not as an aesthetic element.
Typos and Readability
Before you hit send, make sure to check your email for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.
You can use tools like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor to make sure your emails don’t look sloppy. It’s a good idea to read your email aloud to see how it sounds and if it flows smoothly.
A well-written email will demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail.
On the other hand, a email riddled wit typos will definiteely erode your credibilllity. Would you hire someone who wrote the previous sentence and trust them with your business, money, marketing, or reputation? Probably not, so put your best foot forward and try to make a stellar first impression with your cold outreach.
Responsive Email Design
Don’t forget to check what your email looks like on different devices and email clients.
Almost 50% of people open their emails on mobile devices, so the odds are they will stop engaging with your email if it doesn’t display well on smaller screens. Plus, remember that you want them to click on a link or CTA. Don’t make them pinch and zoom or fumble around because that will most certainly frustrate them.
Sometimes, you may not get a response to your first email. To be more precise, it takes between five and eight attempts
to reach a prospect.
However, all this doesn’t mean that the recipient isn’t interested or that you should give up. It simply may mean that they are busy, forgot, or missed your email.
You should send follow-up email after a few days to remind them of your message and restate your value proposition.
In case there’s still no response after the first follow-up, create an email sequence, but make sure you don’t come across as pushy or spammy. A good rule of thumb is to follow up no more than three times, with at least three days between each email.
By giving up on reaching your prospects after the first or second attempt, you’ll miss out on numerous business opportunities and leave lots of money on the table. Build a clever email follow-up sequence that will maximize your outreach and increase your chances of getting a click or response.
Number of Links
Don’t put too many links in the body of your cold emails because it will distract your recipients and confuse them as to
what you want them to do next.
Limit yourself to one or two links, and make sure they are relevant to the topic you’re discussing.
You can always include a more general link in your email signature.
Keeping an eye on vital email metrics allows you to identify what works and what doesn’t and inform your future campaigns.
The deliverability rate indicates the percentage of emails that successfully reached the recipient’s inbox without bouncing or being marked as spam. A low deliverability rate could indicate issues with your email list, sender reputation, or relevance of your messages.
Some of the tips for avoiding such a scenario include:
- Ensuring a clean and regularly updated list
- Minimizing spam words in the subject line and body
- Adding an “Unsubscribe” link to every email
The email bounce rate is the opposite of the delivery rate. It describes the percentage of emails that can’t reach a recipient’s mailbox and get redirected back to the sender. When an email bounces, the sender receives a non-delivery report (NDR). Bounces happen for all sorts of reasons. A generally accepted email bounce rate is 2%, but it may vary depending on the industry and contact list.
To keep your bounce rate low, work on improving your email deliverability. You should distinguish between a soft and a hard bounce.
A soft bounce is an email that couldn’t be delivered because of temporary reasons, such as a full mailbox, a server that’s down, or a message that’s too large.
Conversely, a hard bounce is an email that bounced because of permanent reasons such as an invalid or non-existent email address, blocked delivery, or a domain error.
The open rate shows how many recipients open your emails. The effectiveness of your subject line and preview text directly influences this metric.
A low open rate suggests that your email fails to cut through the noise and stand out in crowded inboxes or that the subject line isn’t compelling or relevant enough.
Here’s how you can boost your open rate:
- Create short, relevant, and catchy subject lines
- Personalize your subject lines whenever possible
- Understand your target audience’s needs, pain points, and preferences
- Segment your list
- Pick the right timing
- Make it look like you’re speaking to each recipient individually
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
A click-through rate refers to the percentage of email recipients who clicked on at least one link within your email. This metric reflects how well your email content engages your audience and encourages them to take action.
A high CTR indicates that your email content captures your recipients’ attention and that your links, whether leading to a blog post, product page, or registration form, are enticing enough to click. Conversely, a low CTR can signal that your content or links may not be as appealing or straightforward as they should be, meaning you should revisit your email copy, CTAs, or the entire strategy.
It’s essential to remember that the CTR is influenced by various factors, like the position of the links in the email, the number of links, and the copy associated with these links. By running A/B tests on these elements, you can understand what works best for your audience and optimize for a higher CTR.
What’s A/B Testing?
One of the critical factors that affect the click-through rate of your cold emails is the quality of your subject line, copy, links, and call to action.
How do you know which subject line or email content is more likely to get your prospects to click on your links?
The answer is A/B testing.
Also known as split testing, this method allows you to compare two different versions of a particular email element to see which one performs better in terms of clicks.
A/B testing consists of creating two versions of the same email and changing only the element you want to test, i.e., the same email with different subject lines, CTAs, or anything else you want.
It’s also important to send these test emails to a small fraction of your recipients.
Divide the test group into two and send version A of the campaign to the first and version B to the second half. Measure the click-through rate of each version, and choose the one with the higher rate. Send the winning version to the rest of your recipients outside the control group.
A/B testing eliminates guesswork from your email outreach and helps you make data-driven decisions. As a result, you’ll be able to optimize your email campaigns and improve your email outreach results.
This metric measures the percentage of recipients who reply to your email.
While this may not apply to all campaigns, it’s crucial for those meant to elicit direct feedback or interaction from the recipient.
If your response rate is low, it might signify that your CTA or copy needs tweaking. Throwing darts in the dark doesn’t work, so you have to pinpoint the cause behind the underwhelming results.
Let’s take a look at some of the tactics you can implement to improve your click-through rate.
Firstly, evaluate your email copy. If it lacks value for your prospects and mainly focuses on promoting products or services, it’s advisable to shift towards a prospect-centric approach. This involves addressing their pain points, offering solutions, and providing content that directly benefits them.
Secondly, assess the personalization of your emails. If they aren’t tailored to the needs of your prospects, there’s room for improvement.
To enhance individual engagement, it’s crucial to utilize ideal customer profiles (ICP) and buyer personas. Additionally, segment your audience and employ email outreach automation tools for a granular level of personalization.
Lastly, scrutinize your call to action (CTA). If it’s weak or unclear, it may fail to motivate prospects to click, impacting your overall response rate. To address this, ensure your CTA is simple, specific, and compelling.
Use words that create urgency, generate curiosity, or highlight the value recipients will gain by clicking. This strategic approach can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
The conversion rate is arguably the most telling metric of all.
It indicates the percentage of recipients who follow through on the desired action associated with your CTA — making a purchase, downloading a resource, booking an appointment, registering for a webinar, or visiting a landing page.
A successful conversion is the ultimate goal of a majority of email campaigns.
To improve this metric and get prospects to convert, follow all the tips and best practices we have discussed so far.
Turning Principles Into Practice
Okay, now we know how to craft click-worthy emails from scratch, but there’s another dilemma to solve.
Who’s Responsible for Writing Emails?
In this section, we’ll discuss your options and help you find the one that best fits your needs and budget.
Equipped with a deep understanding of the solution, customer pain points, and sales objections, sales reps are often
those who craft emails, mainly for direct outreach.
Even though they’re not expert copywriters, they surely have their way with words. After all, they spend their days
delivering convincing and powerful sales pitches and talking prospects into making a purchase. This means they’re more
than capable of delivering highly personalized and persuasive emails.
Writing is not their main strength as it’s less conversational and interactive than they’re accustomed to.
Furthermore, they have to balance content creation with their primary sales duties. This challenge often leads to hurried emails that lack finesse or a compelling structure.
Writing is a time-consuming task that overwhelms their already busy schedules. Let’s not forget that sales reps already have too much on their plate, which is why they spend only 28% of their time selling.
You can crunch the numbers and see how much time your sales reps spend creating sales emails and how much that costs.
Based on everything we’ve concluded about tasking sales reps with crafting emails, it’s safe to say that copywriters are a much better option. Or are they?
Skilled in digesting complex ideas, proficient in grammar and punctuation, and well-versed in audience psychology, these professionals can construct crisp and engaging email copy.
They usually require detailed briefings and considerable time to learn about the unique features, benefits, and overall value of your product, as well as to familiarize themselves with the needs and preferences of your audience.
You should expect a series of rounds of feedback and revisions before you get what you’re looking for. A copywriter is likely working on multiple projects at any time, so it could take weeks to complete a project.
In addition, hiring external copywriters can add a significant cost factor to your campaigns.
Chat GPT: How Can AI Help? (Can It Help at All?)
Resorting to modern technology is your next option.
Thanks to AI-powered tools like Chat GPT, it’s now possible to quickly and easily generate human-like content based on your prompts, including emails. These platforms are efficient assistants in creating engaging emails.
AI can help you save plenty of time and resources in the email crafting process. These tools can also produce consistent and high-quality content at a fast pace. They may seem like the perfect solution for companies that need to churn out many emails regularly.
However, while AI has huge potential to the extent that we can consider it a game changer, it also has its challenges
You need to be tech-savvy to use these tools effectively — adjusting settings, crafting prompts, testing, and iterating. Since this revolutionary technology is still new to many of us, getting the hang of it will take a lot of time and patience. In other words, it’s not an out-of-the-box solution you can simply plug and play.
Relying too heavily on ChatGPT might make your emails sound robotic. You may miss the mark regarding the tone of voice and avoid including all the necessary email elements. You can easily end up with generic emails bordering on the uncanny valley that lack a CTA or clear value proposition.
Another thing you should also bear in mind is that AI tools create content based on the data they’ve been trained on and the input you provide. Your brand voice, cultural references, or sensitive issues may require a human touch.
If you think that all this is challenging, you’re not wrong. Luckily, some tools go beyond ChatGPT and its raw variants. The ChatGPT’s API allows developers to implement the model into their apps and platforms, which results in many different custom-made tools specialized for creating different types of content, including long-form articles, short copy, and emails.
Autoklose’s AK Komposer is purposely built to serve as your digital email copywriting assistant. It’s user-friendly, which means you don’t need to be tech-savvy to start crafting effective emails.
All you have to do is provide the information about the purpose and goal of your email, select the tone of voice, hit the “Generate” button, and the tool will craft three different spam-free versions of the copy you can additionally tweak.