The average person gets 130 emails delivered to their inbox every day. Here’s how to rise above the news, get your emails read, and win the inbox with emails that convert. 


According to MarketingSherpa, an astounding 72% of consumers chose email when asked, “In which way would you prefer companies to communicate with you.”

Postal mail was a distant second with 48%.

The way writer Chad White puts it:

 “As much as marketers love the shiny, new thing, consumers love the shiny, old thing: email.”

In this world of Snapchat, messenger apps and augmented reality, it’s worth dusting off your old “how to market with email” handbooks and getting back to basics, especially since email marketing ROI is the second most easily measured channel (after paid search).

In other words, not only is good email marketing effective, but the wealth of analytics at your fingertips will help you constantly improve your strategy.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses

According to Symantec, nearly 90% of every email sent out is spam. It’s no wonder that recipients are wary whenever they’re contacted by someone who isn’t a family member or friend.

That’s why it’s extremely important that you, as a brand, be selective about whom you approach and how you approach them.

While it’s important to be personal while delivering a friendly narrative, overdoing it will likely get your message sent to the spam folder.

Here are 4 tips to implement into your outreach emails to help you start catching the attention of your readers and encouraging them into action.

1. Know your audience

It takes someone less than a second to decide whether an email is worth reading or not. A second.

That puts a lot of pressure on you to craft a subject line and message that hits home. One way to relieve yourself from some of that pressure is to know your audience.

There are a ton of tools and email marketing strategies that make it easy for you to personalize your emails based on demographics, actions taken, etc.

I encourage you to use those tools with your campaigns; however, you should also consider scaling down your approach too.

What do I mean?

While you can’t pursue this approach for every person, chances are you have a few people on your list whom you really hope to establish a personal relationship with. Consider these your outreach emails.

Rather than lump those people into some arbitrary segment in your email software of choice, you should try humanizing the process a bit.

Conduct thorough research on the person and his company. Find out anything you can that will help you establish a personal relationship. For example, if that person recently shared an article on Twitter that you read, mention it in the email.

This type of personalization will help you stand out among the throngs of spam and useless banter we tend to see fill up our inboxes.


Dig Deeper: Building a Buyer Persona: The Basics

2. Get down to brass tacks

One of the worst lines you can add to your emails is, If there’s anything I can help you with, don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

You might think you’re being helpful without being pushy. Instead, you’ve just encouraged your readers to avoid taking any type of action.

Consider your outreach emails to be the same as landing pages. A landing page has one purpose: convert.

So do your emails.

While landing pages typically have blatantly obvious buttons for readers to click on, you’ll have to be just as clear and obvious – without that fancy button design.

The best way to funnel your readers to your CTA is to cut right to the chase. The more fluff you put in before your CTA, the more likely you’ll frustrate your audience.

If, for example, you’re looking for an influencer to promote your product, tell them that.

If and when possible, stick to asking your readers for just one action.

3. Don’t make your readers overwork

While – when compared to a tweet – emails are slow and more involved, that doesn’t mean you should expect your readers to want to work hard to get to the “punchline.”

Let’s take the example again from above, where you’re reaching out to influencers to promote a product. Rather than just saying, I think this would be a great product for you and your audience, be more actionable by giving them what they’ll need:

  • A link to your site
  • A link to the page on their site you’d like them promote your site on
  • A suggestion on where on that page it might be the best fit, and why

In other words, do the legwork for your readers, making it easier for them to take action.

4. Establish your credibility

If you’ve been able to get your readers to move past your subject line, and introductory email, they might be ready to make a conversion,

However, before taking action they’ll probably want to know more about you or your company.

This is where you can add a bit more information about yourself and your company. It might even be a good idea to include a couple of links to some credible and trustworthy sources. You can add all of this into one of your email signatures, so that you’re not recreating the wheel each time.

5. Don’t forget the purpose of your emails

There are different types of email campaigns brands use to connect and convert readers. However, no matter what strategy you employ, in the end, your email is just another landing page.

Most marketers and brands know what it takes to craft an effective landing page: minimal text, zero distractions, and a clear path to conversion.

Add those elements into your next email, and I’m confident you’ll start seeing better results.

6. Strategy and Segmentation

Know your email file.

Is spray and pray the extent of your email marketing strategy? That’s not an effective or efficient way to reach your audience. Plus, it can get you in trouble with the ISPs and your emails blocked. 

The solution? Segment your file into interest groups and by recency of activity. That way, you can effectively target your messaging (and subject lines) and reduce cadence for groups that tend to be less engaged. Consistently low open rates — particularly if you have a large file — are what get your emails flagged as possible SPAM.

Test your own best practices.

You’ve probably read many articles telling you to send on this date or at this time for higher open and click rates. But the truth is your audience is unique. It’s up to you to find that sweet spot for receptiveness. Try to break up your sends into different days of the week or times of the day and analyze the response. 

Develop proactive strategies.

Protect the health of your email file. Set automated programs to try and re-engage people that haven’t opened for more than 3 to 6 months. Also, institutionalize anniversary or birthday emails. And don’t forget to send occasional messages asking your audience what you could do better or what they would like to see more — or less — of.


7. Copy

Subject lines are critical.

Inboxes are crowded. Your subject line is your first (and best) way to get above the noise. Remember, people are looking for value and relevance. 

So when you’re segmenting and building audiences, think about the recipient’s origin and behaviors when you craft a subject line. But, don’t bait and switch. Make sure you pay off the subject line when they open and that the content relates to it. 

Don’t forget your preview text. 

This copy, between 35 and 140 characters, will appear along with the first line of your email in most inboxes. Don’t send unclickable links or copy that seems out of nowhere. The body of the email is just as important as your subject line.

Get to the point, and include links.

We’re talking about emails that convert — not a newsletter. Give the reader copy is concise and scannable. Whatever your offer is, make sure it’s visible, clear and clickable, and either in text links, buttons, or both. Don’t make your reader dig.

Know your voice. 

Your brand has a style and personality, so make sure your email reflects that. It should never feel canned or like it was written by someone else.

Create urgency when possible.

If there’s a limited time window or restricted supply, then say so. When you have the reader’s attention, be sure to capitalize on it.


Personalized emails convert better — period. If your platform allows for dynamic personalization, use it. If it doesn’t, move to a new platform.


8. Design

Be on-brand.  

If they’ve signed up for your emails, they’ve probably been to your site or exposed to your brand somehow. Make sure your email design reflects your brand, so it’s recognizable.

Color and imagery have stopping power.  

Minimal copy paired with show-stopping images and clear CTAs will stop your reader and entice them to engage.

Design from the smallest screen out.  

According to HubSpot, almost 50% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Don’t miss your window. If subscribers open on a mobile device, make sure your design and copy are crafted to convert there.

Consistent button design 

CTA buttons should be consistent in their size and appearance. You’re training your audience to look for those cues. But, don’t be afraid to test the CTA copy.


9. Avoiding SPAM Traps

Writing an engaging subject line is great, but be careful using all CAPS and exclamation marks. They will get you flagged.

Watch your open rates

People tend to look at unsubs as an indicator that your file is disengaging. But declining open rates (and unsubs) are a sign of apathy that’s often even more immediately problematic.

Clean your list. 

Segmentation and managing volume to the least engaged is one thing. But have protocols in place for suppressing or purging those that have not engaged for say, more than a year to 18 months.


10. Validate

Check out tools like Litmus and Email On Acid. You can load up your emails, see how they render on different devices, and screens, and identify issues with subject line copy that might raise Spam flags.