How to create eye-catching emails

Data say email marketing strategies—and budgets—are expanding. Consider these tips to ensure your next round of emails avoids instant deletion.

For many communicators, there’s an ongoing debate over the effectiveness of email marketing.

Although social media has assisted marketing managers with consumer engagement, email outreach is still prevalent.

In their efforts to deliver consumers attention-grabbing emails, many execs spend too much, only to see far too little when it comes to results and analytics.

According to data from a 2016 Email on Acid survey, nearly three out of four companies (roughly 72 percent) said they planned to spend more time on email production this year, and more than four out of five (87 percent) planned to increase their email marketing budgets.

An analysis from Easy SMTP and computational neuroscience firm EyeQuant suggests the key to a successful email strategy comes from understanding what your audience finds engaging and then designing your emails accordingly.

Using heat map technology, data were collected from a variety of reactions to email campaigns, which were rated based on clarity, excitement and attention.

Here are a few highlights and how the analysis might help marketers to send better emails:


First impressions via email aren’t so different from first impressions in real life.

How a consumer perceives your initial contact/message is essential to moving forward and building upon your relationship.

How can a single email deeply affect its recipient? Data suggest narrowing your engagement options and focusing your message.

Here’s how content manager and strategist at Digital Third Coast, Andy Kerns, breaks that down:

Focusing the message means not trying to have your email do too much. Marketers will often try to create emails that focus on all sorts of customers at all different stages in the buyer’s journey. This can lead to ineffectiveness across the board. Focus on specific people you want to reach, address their concerns directly and have one, clear call to action.

If your message feels short and sweet, Kerns says you’re on the right track:

Marketers have a tendency to focus on messaging in a very literal sense, or to be too close to the material (the deals being offered, the calls to action) etc., to fairly judge how an email is experienced on an immediate, visceral level. Never underestimate the significance of microseconds and millimeters when it comes to delivering compelling messages via email.

Large blocks of text that explain your message in detail will distract and disengage the reader.

“White space or negative space is preferred to large blocks of information because it signals to the eyes that rest points will be provided as the information is consumed,” the analysis states.


The saying “Go big, or go home” shouldn’t apply to email marketing in any capacity, especially with regard to visual elements.

From Kerns:

When it comes to graphics, less is more. Keep email templates as clean and crisp as possible, and remember an increasing majority of recipients are likely viewing on mobile, where elaborate design and imagery is unwelcome. Yes, be bold and bright, but above all, be basic.

To draw attention to your main headlines or call to action, data suggest not overdoing it. Keep your design clean and distinct from your message.

Adding a different font size, color or additional graphic (think logos, product image or photo) will ensure your reader sees the option to engage.

Using something such as a navigational bar at the end of your email could generate additional clicks from readers who weren’t engaged with the copy itself.

“While headlines and larger type encourage skimming, smaller type actually encourages more focused reading,” the analysis states.

Based on what consumers reacted to best, here are three design tips:

  • Have a simple design, with contrasting calls to action.
  • Be mindful of colors and secondary elements in images.
  • Create a clean display for technical content.

Unifying email and social media strategies

An agency’s marketing managers shouldn’t compete with its social media teams. Instead, they must pool their resources to increase outreach.

From Entrepreneur’s Seamas Egan:

Marketers have the greatest opportunity to reach consumers when they view social media and email marketing as partners with a common goal, rather than rely entirely on one over the other.

What’s the best way to link up?

Egan says marketers should focus on personalization, and social media pros should cast their nets wide. Social media efforts should be crafted to increase email subscriptions, and email content should be targeted to bring more followers to various social media channels.

He explains:

Email allows marketers to segment and target different audiences, as well as deliver highly relevant and customized messages to specific contacts. In contrast, the same content is delivered to social media followers regardless of demographic, location or interests. It’s essential that email marketers include links to social pages at the bottom of every email, regardless if it’s a welcome email, a promotional email or any other type of message.

What successful email marketing tactics have you employed, PR Daily readers?

(Image via by Joe The Goat Farmer / CC BY 2.0)

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