What is Effective Email Content?


It’s time to come up with some effective email content for the monthly newsletter. And there the problems start.

Just the word ‘newsletter’ drives some companies to get all ‘Dear Valued Customer…’, create a 10,000-word update with all their businesses comings and goings (i.e the intern discovering custard creams for the first time)…

…and then wonder why, a few months down the line, their open rate is plummeting.

There’s actually a formula for this:


Where uninspiring content (a) and too many emails in the average inbox (w), multiplied by there not being enough hours to read everything that comes your way (n)…

… equals (y?) – the likelihood of a person asking ‘why would I read this?’

Ok, it’s not ‘real’ science. But…

… when you send an email, you need to make sure the content hits the spot.

It needs to be relevant, entertaining and informative. Or add sufficient value that even if people don’t immediately need your services or product, when they do, you’re the first in mind.

It should never be just a run-down of the ‘exciting’ things that have happened in the office since the last time you wrote (sorry intern. Your time will come).


Is Email Still Effective?

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience and drive sales. Genuinely.

And email subscribers are increasing every year. Email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of over 4000%, so, roughly speaking, for every £1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect to generate £40 in revenue (different sources have differing amounts, but all report a higher ROI than 4000%).

There’s also more to email than just a weekly or monthly business round up that’s sent out to your list. But that’s a different subject.

Effective email content is relevant to your target audience. It should be engaging and interesting to read. If your content is not relevant or engaging, your customers are likely to delete your emails without reading them.

If you’re not engaging people, you’ll potentially be losing portions of that ROI.  So, what do you need to consider?


Creating Powerful Emails

Subject Lines

It can’t be overstated that subject lines play a critical role in determining whether anyone opens your email or not. Regardless of how good its content is, if your email doesn’t get opened, what’s inside will never get seen.

So, use a strong subject line. Grab their attention with words that your recipients are likely to engage with. And keep it short and to the point – most inboxes will cut off subject lines that are too long. Most email platforms allow you to test subject lines too. Do it.

We’ve created a handy guide to writing email subject lines here. Have a look.


Personalising emails helps establish a connection with your audience and makes them feel valued. Addressing your customers by their name and tailoring the content to their interests or needs can increase engagement and response rates.

Typical examples include adding the person’s name in your subject line and body copy. But personalisation extends beyond just using a name too. You can reference previous interactions, acknowledge specific challenges they may face, or provide customised recommendations and offers. If it’s personal to the receiver, it’s personalisation.

Conciseness and Clarity

In other words, make it skim-able.

People are busy and have limited attention spans. Your readers won’t fight to understand your message. Long paragraphs and unnecessary details can be overwhelming and are often boring.

Instead, aim for clear and to-the-point messaging. Organise information logically, use bullet points or subheadings, and highlight key details. And make sure your call to actions are clear and effortless.

Make it so that your audience can skim-read your content. Let landing pages or product pages do the heavy content lifting.

Calls to Action

Every email should have a clear call to action (CTA) that directs recipients on the next steps to take. Whether it’s to sign up for an event, make a purchase, or click through for more information, the CTA should be prominent and persuasive.

Use action-oriented language and provide clear instructions.

Buttons are the most obvious way of highlighting a call to action. For example, ‘Shop Now’ is a common CTA for an ecommerce email, but anything that prompts the reader to act is good content. Your CTA can be a whole paragraph, if you know how to phrase it well.

Graphics, hyperlinks and headlines can all encourage recipients to do something. Making them powerful and clear is vital.

Formatting and Visual Appeal

Formatting and the visual aspects also come under the skim-ability aspect of your email content.

How it looks can significantly impact its effectiveness. Email is visual, and that goes beyond just having graphics. The overall look helps a person how easy it will be to read, or how much time they will have to invest to get the info they need.

If it looks like hard work, your audience will turn away.

Break up text and create a sense of clarity by incorporating white space.

Use headers or subheadings to guide people through the content. Choose fonts and font sizes that are easy to read – and don’t switch fonts. Combine these elements strategically to support the delivery of the message.

Mobile Optimisation

Most emails are opened on phones or tablets, so optimising emails for mobile devices is crucial. Ensure that your emails are responsive and test your emails on various devices and email clients to ensure they display correctly. Mobile users tend to skim through emails quickly. Make sure any links or buttons are large enough to be easily tapped on a touchscreen.

A/B Testing and Analytics

The only way to know what’s working and what’s not is testing and looking at reports. Most platforms make A/B testing different variations really easy. So test different subject lines, email lengths, CTAs, or even content styles to determine what resonates best with your audience. Analyse email metrics such as open and click-through rates, conversion rates, and engagement metrics like time spent on the email or the number of clicks on specific links.

Make changes to your emails based on your results, but look at it as an ongoing thing. Too many changes in one email means you risk not knowing what’s the driver of the results has been. This is the single best way to create effective email content. if you’re constantly looking for improvements, your emails will just get better.

Why is Great Email Content So Important?

Generally speaking, no-one’s waiting indoors for your email to land in their inbox. There are exceptions (emails from your favourite guru might keep you indoors), but otherwise you have to spend time building an engaged following. And that’s why relevant, effective email content is the foundation of effective email marketing. When they know what’s inside is likely to be informative/fun/valuable they’ll open your email time after time. And the benefits keep coming:

  • Engage Your Audience Long Term: Relevant content captures your audience’s attention and interest. When an email contains information or offers aligned with their interests, needs, or preferences, they are more likely to engage with the email. With content that resonates with your audience, you can establish a connection and build a relationship.
  • Increases Open Rates: Even if you have an off day, or an off subject line, regularly good content encourages readers to explore further.
  • Enhances Click-Through Rates: Whether it’s an article, a product offer, or a call to action, if the content directly addresses their needs or desires, recipients are more motivated to take the next step. Watch those click through rates soar.
  • Builds Trust and Credibility: Content that addresses your audiences’ challenges, educates them, or offers solutions, positions you as an expert in your field. This builds trust and credibility, making recipients more likely to turn to you when they need to.
  • Impact (from Segmentation and Personalisation): Segment your email list and deliver targeted content to specific groups. Use content to create personal experiences which enhances the relevance of your emails and increases their impact. Impact creates engagement, engagement…
  • … Drives Conversions and ROI: In general relevant content means recipients engage better with your brand, which ultimately leads to higher conversion rates and a better ROI.
Think about this too: it costs the same amount to create bad content as it does to create good content, but the overall results will be so much better.

Read more detail about the benefits of email marketing here.

A Few Tips on Creating Effective Email Content

So, what do you need to do? Here are a few tips for creating relevant content for your email marketing campaigns:

  • Segment your list. Not all of your subscribers are interested in the same things. By segmenting your list, you can send more relevant content to each group of subscribers. For example, you can entice long time non-opens with a different message to those that haven’t opened in the last three sends. Personalising your content can help you to connect with your subscribers in a better way. Use the subscriber’s name in your emails and reference something specific that you know about them.
  • Use a content calendar. A content calendar can help you to plan and schedule your content in advance. This will help you to ensure that you are always sending relevant content to your subscribers.
  • Use a variety of content formats. People are more likely to engage with content that is presented in a variety of formats. Use a mix of text, images, videos, and infographics in your emails. Test what works best.
  • … And test some more. Good email platforms have a range of reporting tools that make it easy to get a report on your sends. Then you can look for patterns in what’s working and what’s not.
  • Ask for feedback. Ask your subscribers what kind of content they would like to see more of. This feedback can help you to improve your content and create more relevant content for your future campaigns.

Some Final Thoughts

If you were to look at your favourite brand’s early emails you’d probably almost not recognise them. That’s what happens when businesses engage in a process of constant refinements.

Look around. See what emails you like and try them for yourself. If reputable businesses send a certain format frequently, it’s quite probably because that’s what works. But test out different formats and keep the bits that work for you.

Make your email content personal to your audience. Make it relevant. Make it valuable.

That way you know what you’re sending will be effective, that is give you the results you want.

Do you need help creating effective email content?