5 Email Best Practices to Help You Cut Through The Clutter

As of 2019, the typical office worker received an average of 121 emails per day. Imagine reading all of them. I don’t know about you, but I would be completely overwhelmed. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, that number is trending upward.

Now more than ever, it is imperative to use smart email strategies to cut through the clutter of your audience’s inbox. While you may have an astounding email campaign and offer in the works–– one that every single one of your clients would be silly to ignore–– if those emails aren’t opened, they will never see that offer.

In this post, I share with you five best practices to help you get those emails opened. These tips are immediately actionable to help you hit the ground running at the speed of your business.

1) Don’t waste your words.

In a world chock full of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and ‘go-go-go’ hustlers, people are busy! Even if you plan to spend the next seven hours crafting an email you would consider to be the equivalent of a fresh, new Shakespearean sonnet–– if it is not under 200 words, it is not likely to reach your audience in the way you intend it.

Don’t overwhelm your readers. Keep your emails short, simple, and concise! If you’re doubtful about how long your message should be, aim to keep it below 200 words. Make sure your audience is happy about taking time out of their day to read your message–– rather than another one from the virtual heap currently littering their inbox.


2) Be provocative, but let them know what they’re getting from your email.

Think about the last subject heading? Was it exciting? Did it pique your audience’s interest? A great subject heading is truly your foot in the door, but you must make sure that it is relevant.

Pop quiz! If I were to send an email to notify a prospect that I will no longer be reaching out to them, which of the following subject headings would be best?

  1. “You stopped reading my messages, so I’ll stop sending you emails now”
  2. “Later, I guess.”
  3. “Did we say something wrong? I guess it’s farewell ?”

If you chose ‘c’, you are correct! This subject heading does a good job of piquing interest, while also giving the audience an idea about what they will be reading in the email once they open it. In addition, using an emoji in the subject heading of your emails will help boost your open rate, according to Hubspot.

3) Think about mobile when creating templates.

With almost 6 of 10 American consumers checking their email on the go in 2018, it’s imperative to make your audience’s experience easier and better overall. Unfortunately, this takes a bit more consideration than simply sending out an email and hoping that it converts easily on mobile.

In order to avoid most pitfalls, use a dynamic template that changes and adjusts with the size and type of the reader’s device. While this is in no way a catch-all, it will save you a lot of time down the road.

One of the simplest and best options to utilize for mobile is the single-column template. According to Unlayer, “Having a single column makes it easy and fast to scroll through and skim—which is all most readers do these days.”

Typing an email

4) Segment your contact lists.

If you’re like most businesses, you cater to at least a few different demographics. Consider for a moment that you are the owner of a crafting and fabric supply store. You might have customers who are new parents, grandparents, and even professional clothing designers! Those customers may have similar needs initially (fabric), but they don’t have the same reason for shopping with you.

When considering reaching out to your customers with offers, would you want to send them all the same email about your sale on patterns for baby blankets? Perhaps that would be useful for the new parents, but for those who don’t have a baby— it’s not very helpful or relevant. If you continue to send them unhelpful and irrelevant emails, they may start ignoring them entirely or unsubscribe. That’s a problem!

How do we fix this? Segment your contact lists to reflect your customers. Don’t worry! The same person can be in multiple lists. For example, the professional designer might also be a new mother. In that case, she would find the aforementioned sale email useful, and it would be beneficial to add her to the ‘New Parents’ list. However, because she would still want to receive your emails about bulk deals on muslin, she should stay on your ‘Designers’ list.

Generally speaking, you can segment your contacts however you would like. But to start, it is useful to segment by location, profession, gender, and age.

Email Image

5) Consider your image

How much thought do you put into your email’s image? Do you have specially branded content, or do you use a ‘good-enough’ stock image? According to Unlayer, images are the first thing your audience notices in an email, so it’s crucial to ensure they deliver on your branding and message as much as your text does.

Here are some handy questions to ask yourself when choosing an image for your next email:

  1. Does this image feel generic?
  2. Does it stand out? Is it interesting?
  3. Does this image support my message and my brand?

If you’ve answered ‘no’ to the first question, and yes to the following–– you’re off to a great start! Now once you have your image, make sure that you’re using it to complement your text. While the image itself is important (and hopefully eye-catching!), your text should be the focal point.

Wrapping up

Now that you have these tips top-of-mind–– give them a whirl! The best way to truly understand how to make these best practices work for your business is by experimenting with them. Try your hand at A/B testing to see which images resonate most with different segments, maybe rewrite a few of your existing subject lines, or perhaps plunk in an emoji to see how it affects your open rate. Now that you have these tools, the digital world is your oyster!


Lynne Huysamen

Mommy to a pigeon pair, blogger and online marketer. Lover of chocolate, good books and buckets of coffee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *