Everyone touts the benefits of email marketing – it’s still one of the most effective digital marketing channels available! It works B2C and B2B, for almost every industry, for loads of different outcomes.

Ok, you’re convinced.

But what do you actually put in your email?

How much should you write? How should it look? How many different parts should it have? How many different calls to action?

Like most people, I get a lot of email campaigns or newsletters from lots of different people and companies. Some emails are highly designed with images and different sections, full of little snippets vying for my attention.

Others are simple. They focus on a single message and ask for just one action. Just text.

Still others are in between. They use images sparingly, to highlight one major message or article, plus one or two extra points or calls to action.

So what do I think works best?

(This post focuses on content-based marketing rather than ecommerce, but similar principles apply.)


No, I’m not setting an ultimatum, but your reader needs a reason to stay.

It’s so easy to just skip or bin a newsletter, so simple article summaries or lists of products are too risky. If your audience sits on the edge of their seat in anticipation of every email, this strategy might be all you need. But if your email subscribers are just interested or still learning about you, they need a little more to keep that email open long enough to take action.

Your email content must be genuinely interesting and engaging. So ditch the 156 character article summaries–at least for your main section–and write something special.

Start strong and say “Hey! This email is going to be super interesting!”.

It might be extra commentary on the same topic as the full article, or it might just be a more casual, interesting introduction.


Hi John,

Welcome to December’s monthly newsletter.

[Title of article]
Are your pretty emails falling flat? Find out how to focus and simplify your email campaigns for optimum results. Read more >

{insert list of other articles and images and a few other pieces of content that distract from our main article…}


Hi John,

Digital marketers (us included) are always saying how email marketing is still the best, but a lot of people struggle with what to actually say.

But it’s actually pretty simple!

I’ve written a handy guide to filling your emails with interesting, engaging content that will actually get your readers to read and click, not just bin and forget.

It’s on the blog right now, so check it out here and let me know what you think!


Now, this example is fairly extreme. It goes from a standard, overly complex (yet strangely also too simple) “newsletter” format, to the kind of email you might get from a friend.

Your sweet spot might be in the middle.

But the second email grabs your attention and “sells” the article a million times better! I know which one I’d read and click on.


You need to consider your audience and your brand. It might not be appropriate for you to send super casual, “hey, how’s it going” messages to your corporate clients. Or your business requirements might dictate that you need a few more bits and pieces in your emails.

But the basics are the same. Here we go!


Use your subject line, pre-header text, main headline or graphic, and main content carefully and thoughtfully. Would you read this yourself? Does it say anything interesting or useful, or promise something exciting? Does it then deliver?



Each email campaign should be about one thing. You can have supplementary information, but shouldn’t rely on them getting your readers’ attention.



With one message, comes one action. Read, buy, sign up, learn more, find out how, call us now.

If you have a couple of extra pieces of content in your email, make sure each one has a really clear action. Your reader wants to know what to do next. Just make sure that the main call to action is the most prominent.



There are many reasons to keep your email design simple! They’re cheaper to build in the first place, easier to manage and update for each send, and more reliable in how they appear to your readers, in all their different email clients.

Most importantly, a simple layout puts the focus on your message and what you want the reader to do.

This doesn’t mean you can’t brand the email–definitely brand the email!–or include the odd eye catching image, but put your money and energy where your readers want it: into creating an interesting, useful, targeted email campaign.


What is the first thing you’re going to change about how you send email campaigns?

Will you change up your content and overhaul your design? Or just write more specific and obvious calls to action? Do you have more ideas for how to write emails that people will be excited to see land in their inbox?

Leave a Reply

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