You’ve taken the time to craft a fantastic email and want to send it to people who actually want to hear from you however your email struggles to stand out from the noise of a packed inbox or worse still, winds up in the spam folder.

To get people to open your email can be a challenge in and of itself. Getting them to click through can be just as challenging. To succeed with email marketing you have to get them to do both.

But where do you start and what can you do to ensure that your efforts will yield the desired results and not simply go to waste.

Luckily, it’s not all downhill from here and there are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of success, continue reading to see how.

Write clear and clickable subject lines.

With ever increasing competition for visibility within the inbox it will be challenging to make your email stand out. That being said, the best way to stand out is to have a good understanding of your audience and write highly focused, persuasive subject lines.

Your subject line should be informative and let the person reading it know what they are getting or at least give them a very good idea of what to expect.

There are a variety of things you can do to construct a winning subject line that gets clicks such as;

  • Make sure your message is easy to understand. Use language that is crystal clear and resonates with your audience.
  • You can use motivational factors such as value propositions, news, benefits, curiosity or fear (as in fear of missing out) to increase engagement.
  • Use action verbs to construct your subject line in a way that will move the audience to take action.
  • You can use personalisation such as first name, company name or something else that is specific to the recipient however use with caution as this can be perceived as intrusive.
  • Keep in mind length. Anything over 50 characters and you run the risk of your message getting cut, particularly on mobile devices.
  • Be wary of or better still avoid spam trigger word such as “Free”, “Act Now!”, “Save” or “Quote”.

Pre-set the preview text.

Preview text is a short preview of the text inside your email content. This is used by various email applications such as iPhone Mail, Gmail and Outlook to display the first few lines of text from the copy of your email. This text, which can be changed, will be displayed below the subject line of your email. How much text is displayed will depend on the email application and how it’s been set up.

You should use the preview text to build on the message in the subject line. It should be used to give the reader an indication of what is in the email and should be kept to around 50 characters or less.

Most email applications will pull the preview text from your email content if you don’t set it beforehand. Whilst this may be okay in some cases in most cases it’s not and can lead to confusion. In any case you should take the opportunity to use the preview text to enhance the experience and get people to open your email.

It’s widely accepted that we receive a lot of emails at work, in fact we receive on average more than 100 (and rising) emails every day. In addition to this people are busy and your email will be competing with a valuable commodity…time.

Against this backdrop you should think about the time it takes to read your email and not make it any longer than it needs to be. Keep in mind the purpose or your email and its role in the communications journey, this should help you to keep it short, simple and to the point.

If you do have to create a long email you can use headings, paragraphs and visual design to break up the text. You could use a layout that will allow some readers to quickly get a good understanding of your message just by skim reading whilst leaving the main body of the content intact for those requiring a deeper experience.

Keep your emails short.

Include one, clear call-to-action button per email.

Remember it’s most likely that your readers are strapped for time and as such may be skim reading your emails. As such you’ll want to make it easy for those who quickly scan to be able to see your call to action (CTA) button.

Whilst you could have more than one link in your email it’s important that you have one CTA otherwise it might not be clear to the reader what action you want them to take. Your CTA message should be bold and designed to advance the conversation. It might even help to think of it as a second subject line. The same principles apply, you want the message to stand out and the reader to click through to your landing page.

Unlike the subject line you have more room to manoeuvre in that you can use colour, font and space to enhance the message and make it more engaging. Just remember to be sure to add Alt Text if your CTA button is an image as most email applications will have images switched off by default.

Add links to your images.

In most cases the primary objective of email marketing is to get your audience to click through to your landing page where they can have a more enriched experience that drives them to take action and buy your product, service or request more information.

A quick and simple way of increasing the chances of click through without going through the trouble of creating multiple structured links throughout the email which, by the way, is not a bad thing if you have the time; is to add links to your images.

Adding links to your logo or primary image will also ensure that your audience will have something to click above-the-fold which is especially useful for mobile users.

Test, Test and Test again.

It cannot be stressed how important it is to test your email before you hit the send button. Implementing a test and learn framework will not only ensure that your audience receive what you intended them to but also allows you to fine tune your campaigns which in turn will lead you to success.

You should carry out a test that will enable you to make sure that everything in your email is as it should be. Check that your spelling is correct, typos have a funny way of sneaking in. Check your visuals and formatting, are they working as expected? Check that the email renders properly across the different devices that your audience use.

You can also A/B split test your subject line as well as the content of your email. This kind of test requires you to develop two pieces of content which you can then test to see which one gets the most opens or clicks. You can run this test against a sample of the audience in your list. You can then send the winning email to the remainder of you list. Most email applications should enable you to do this.


There is one thing that we can all be sure of and that is the use of email will continue to grow. A report by The Radicati Group puts that growth at 7% year on year until 2019. This continued growth primarily means one thing, increase competition for visibility in the inbox. It also means that you will have less time to capture the attention of your audience.

As challenging as that is, by understanding your audience, being creative and paying attention to the little things it is still possible to get your email marketing to deliver.

The suggestions above are by no means a list of all the things that you can do to improve your email open and click through rates, but it’s a start. How do you overcome this challenge in your email marketing campaigns?

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