Besides picking up the phone and cold calling, an email provides you the most direct line of communication for conversion to sales.  In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association when you want to move from conversation to commerce, the art of drafting a good email can have a ROI of around 4,300%.

But how do you draft an email that makes people want to open and read the email. What makes email content work?

Here are several things you need to consider when writing your email and starting a new email campaign:

Subject line

Without a good subject line your message won’t be opened.  What makes a good headline?  Here are some headline guidelines to follow so that your email doesn’t end in a spam folder and gets read and not a victim of the feared ‘delete’ key:

  • Emotion – The website, Ripenn, says don’t be afraid of getting emotional. They also said, “Viral sites use a lot of emotional trigger words: touching, goosebumps, tears, cry, hilarious, OMG, Whoa!” because it’s emotion that makes people want to click and share. What if you’re selling an un-emotional product or service? They say that it doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage it in your content strategy.
  • Be compelling and engaging. Here’s an interesting article written by social media expert Jeff Bullas on his website called, 22 Headlines That Went Viral.  He’s right about these headlines too.  I just spent about fifteen minutes watching a video after reading this headline, Watch This Incredible Young Woman Render Jon Stewart Speechless.  Why? One, because I like Jon Stewart. But more importantly, I couldn’t imagine anyone powerful enough to make this man short on words.  I was wrong. So it peaked my curiosity.
  • Keep the subject line under 40 characters. While this is still true in many cases, there have been some surprising results achieved by NOT following this tip. started in May, 2013 has reached over 6 million unique views a month according to  Much of his success has come from using superlatives, emotional pulls and long headlines. Some of them are over 100 characters long. Here are some that caught my attention, This Young Mother Has Something Serious To Say. You Might Not Like It, But You’ll Probably Love It, and Here Are 12 Unborn Animals In The Womb. They’re Absolutely Beautiful…Especially The Dolphin (AND THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL, so he backs up the headline with emotional and compelling photographs).
  • Put key information at beginning.
  • No non-ASCII characters.
  • No words like free, opportunity, offer and click here. These are common spam trigger words.

And as a side note- always use your company/brand name when sending out an email. Use a real corporate email address and not a “donotreply” addresses. Besides the possibility of ending up in a spam folder, it doesn’t look professional. The key is to do everything in your power to get your email opened and non-business emails look suspicious.

Finding Your Voice

Having the right voice is key in getting your messages read. Your voice is not what you say but how you say it. Sometimes your personal way of speaking and the tone of voice of your company may be one and the same. Other times the two could be a world apart. Your voice should be appropriate for your ideal customer or audience. Most people want to read something that is written the same way that human beings speak.  What do I mean by that?

Ripenn sums it up brilliantly, “You have a choice when writing a title, or really when writing anything. You can either be (a) Robotic and extremely accurate or (b) Human and relatable.  Unless you are writing documents for rocket scientists concerning NASA’s next launch, please ALWAYS choose “b”. Just do your best to be conversational. Remember, people like to interact with other people. Don’t try to sound too smart, it can come off as robotic and distant.”

Good email content deepens your relationship with your audience, your messages get opened, and hopefully shared by readers with their friends.  If your reader finds your email relevant, interesting and shareable, they can always forward the email. But make it easy as possible by including social media icons. When you include social share buttons you are encouraging your audience to continue the conversation on social channels and that’s a great thing.

Testing Your Emails

Before sending out your email, proof your work.  Check for spelling errors, links, phone numbers and email addresses. Check what your email looks like on different devices too.  According to the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Americans use their cell phone to send or receive email.  How do your emails look on mobile devices? Are they mobile friendly?


You should create a mix of different styles and methods for your emails. Try sending your email campaigns out on different times and days. Vary your headlines.  Try adding graphics and pictures.  Play around with your hyperlink text.  Do some phrases work better than others?

Watch to see which emails are opened and which ones aren’t.  Play around with your voice. Again, study which gets more clicks.  Does casual work better for your services or products, or does a more professional voice do the trick?

Keeping your content and methodology fresh, gives you the best chance of keeping your readers engaged. When you understand your prospect interaction that means you can improve future campaigns all in the effort to boost marketing ROI.