How to write emails so you get the response you want – 7 tips for every day use

customer experience email marketing marketing Sep 20, 2018

Whenever you write an email to a client, or a prospect, you’re investing your precious resource (time) into that email. 


And they are investing their precious resource to read it.

Which means that you want to be writing effective emails that get the desired reaction first time around, not after lots of additional emails to and fro, or even worse, zero response at all!

So, how do you write an email that not only gets read, but the person actually does what you want them to?

It’s a bit of psychology, mixed with good communication skills, something I have developed over my 20 year marketing career, but now I can give you the benefit of these lessons learnt in a few minutes!

Here are my 7 top tips for writing effective emails

1: Start off the email with something personal and relevant to THEM.

If it’s a 1:1 email then comment on something you know is going on in their world. Use things you might know about like a recent holiday, a work promotion, the news or another shared ‘event’ to make a connection.

Keep it very short – you need to quickly get to the point of the email but you’re doing a little bit of relationship building by letting them know that they are important to you.

2: Have a clear goal for the email, and a single call-to-action

Being clear about the purpose of your email is SUPER important. State it right up front in as few words as possible.

We scan emails quickly (under 3 seconds) to see if they are important, so if the important point is hidden in long paragraphs your readers are likely to miss the point entirely!

It’s best to have ONE goal per email. And one Call to Action

The more actions you are asking them to take, the less likely they will complete them all if you put it in one email.

If you have a lot you need to communicate (like an on-boarding process), split the different topics/ steps/ actions into separate emails and send them in a sequence so the person gets the information they need at the time they need it.

3: Make sure you are stating WHY it’s important to them to read this email and take action.

Frame this reason from their perspective, what are they going to gain from taking action?

The benefit to them needs to be very clear because it’s the key driver for getting them to act.

So many people think that the purpose and benefits are obvious, but remember, you’re looking at it from your perspective, not from theirs.

They’ve got other things they are doing right now so pointing out the benefit in taking action can be the difference between success and failure.

4: Be clear about WHAT they need to do.

Don’t assume people can remember or figure it out. You know everyone is super busy these days and they have their whole life going on inside their heads.

They aren’t thinking about you or your business right now, so you need to make it very easy for them to understand what the action is they need to do next, and how.

Even if they have done it before, it is very good practice to tell them how to do it again so they have a quick reference right in front of them and waste no time searching back through previous emails for those instructions.

How can you make it easy for them to complete this goal?

Give them links to the page, give them the instructions, be clear in your instructions.

5: Check your tone of voice.

How does it come across? Friendly, or pushy? Are you asking them to take action or telling them to do it?

How would you respond if you were on the receiving end of this email?

If possible, leave your draft email for a few hours and come back to it to do this review. Read it as if you are reading it for the first time and check that you’re saying what you mean.

It’s very easy for people to misunderstand meaning in written communications, which is why this step is super important!

6: Use formatting to improve the readability of your message.

White space. Plenty of white space!

Cut out any words that are not necessary. Break down those long paragraphs, use bullet points and subheadings. 

Subheadings are a great way to help with comprehension too.

7: Create a meaningful subject line.

It usually works best to tell them what the email is about in the subject line.

Help them see this is important so they don’t scroll past it in the inbox.

If you use a random subject line such as “Hey!” it comes across as very casual – if I am strapped for time I’m not thinking this email will have anything important in it for me.

Extra tip: Send it at the best time.

Now you’ve written your great email, think about the best time to send it.

What do you know about the person and their weekly schedule?

Do your best to choose a time you know they are online and working, so they are more likely to see it straight away before it gets buried in the inbox.

Tips for sending marketing emails

If you’re sending a bulk email to your list, always use an email marketing tool rather than bcc’ing your list into your email.

I use Active Campaign in my own business and I really like the ability to review activity on each contact’s record. I can see who is opening and reading my emails, and even better, I can set up lead scoring to automatically target hot prospects with relevant services!

With systems like Active Campaign, you not only get the benefit to track whether people have opened it, but you can add personalisation which is SUPER important for getting people to open and read your email.

I find I get good results using personalisation in the subject line too, although with email previews on most devices these days, you don’t need to do this.


For more tips about how to create successful marketing emails, check out my recent blog: Want a better response to your marketing emails? This is how!

p.s.  I am an affiliate for Active Campaign because I am a massive fan of their platform. I only ever recommend systems that I know and use in my own business.