12 Crucial Elements of a Marketing Email


By Vee Tardrew - January 10, 2014

Customer acquisition via email has quadrupled in the last four years and now accounts for almost 7 percent of customer acquisitions, this according to a study from predictive analytics firm Custora. Email - like most communication and Content Marketing tools - has become an ubiquitious part of our daily lives. Not only within work hours but thanks to mobile device advances throughout the day. Today, we carry our inboxes with us in the palms of our hands and we scan an enormous amount of email messages a day.

There was an important word there. In case you missed it, it was scan. Mobile email will account for anywhere between 15 and 65% of email opens, depending on your particular target audience, product and email type. People don't have the time or the inclination to wade through emails that require heavy reading commitment, most especially on mobile. You have a very small window in order to get your message across and elicit action. In order to be successful, marketers must master the perfect email. Here are 12 key points to check off your list before you push send.

Subject Line

Your subject line is the first opportunity you have to encourage people to open your email. Get it wrong and you've essentially wasted all the time you've put into crafting the rest of your copy. Subject lines need to be incredibly strong at providing the potential reader a sense of what they can expect should they go on to read the rest of your email and what value they stand to gain. Pointers to a great subject line include:


Consider the following subject line, "Save When You Place Your Order". This subject line falls flat as it isn't giving me any sense of what is on offer. How much can I save? On what? And when exactly? The secret here is to be specific. "Save 15% off All Business Books Ordered Today". Ah, now that's a bit better. I now know that I have only today to save 15% on business books. Much more specific.


This is no place for 'War and Peace'. The general rule of thumb is to not exceed 50 characters. Anything more risks being cut off by email readers. There are some studies that have shown longer subject lines can work when they are niche emails being sent to a very targeted audience. A targeted approach to our book sale subject line may be, "Vee, Save 15% on Your Favourite Marketing Books Today." This company shows that they know me well enough to address me by name and offer books that are relevant to my specific role.


You're not a spammer, so don't be spammy. Avoid words and formatting that will trigger spam filters. This includes words like free, act now, open immediately and even some basic industry words such as insurance or casino. USING CAPS AND EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION IS AN ABSOLUTE NO GO!!!!!!! Not only is it just plain rude (all caps is considered shouting in online etiquette, but will land you in the spam sin bin in a second.


While not strictly an element of the subject line, the from field and subject line should work together to form your 'introduction'. People like dealing with people, even within the B2B environment. You don't deal with the company, you deal with a person within that company and your emails should reflect that relationship. I, for example, have my email from field set up to come from Vee Tardrew, Struto. By including my name in the from field (and my real personal email address as the sender - not info@, sales@, marketing@ or worst of all no-reply@ - readers are assured that the email is coming from a person that they can respond directly to should they want to.

Email Body 

Mobile Friendly Design

48% of emails are opened on mobile and if your emails are not optimised for mobile, you are losing valuable opportunities to reach leads.

Using responsive design is the easiest way to ensure that your emails are mobile-proof, as the design will adapt for the screen size the email is being read on.


While you needn't use the exact same layout for every email you send, it is important to ensure your branding is clear and consistent. Include your company logo and use your corporate colours to represent your corporate identity.

Limited Imagery

Key word here - limited. Avoid including your entire message within an image, i.e. have your designer create one big image that includes all your text. More often than not, email readers block images and users are prompted to download the image should they wish to view it. If your email message is contained within that image, chances are it will never be seen. It is also advisable to optimise your image with an alt-tag so that when your reader does render the email the user is able to see (via text) how the image ties in with your email.

Personalised and Smart Content

You know something about your prospect. Whether that is as basic as their first name or as detailed as budgets, job role or the specific pains they are experiencing. Use what you know about your leads to personalise content. "Hi Vee" is bound to get my attention more than a generic "Dear client" introduction. You don't want to creep them out so be discerning about personalisation and use it only where it is relevant and valuable to your prospect and applicable to the offer.

Value Proposition, Context and Offer

This is the crux of your email. The reason you have taken the time to draw up an email. Work on a strong value proposition for your reader, providing context as to why and how this particular offer is beneficial to them. Don't forget that formatting can play a big role in this particular section of your email. Short, punchy sentences, bullet points and carefully placed bolded or italicised text will drive the message home better than boring, long copy.

Compelling Call-To-Action

Once you've pitched your offer, be sure to include a big, ol' shiny CTA button so that your reader can actually go ahead and get what it is that you're offering or promoting.

Keep your reader focused by eliminating multiple calls-to-action that dilutes attention. Having a single, clear CTA within your email will ensure they know precisely what it is they should do next to take up your offer.

Strong action orientated words work best. Depending on the offer at hand, use words like ‘download’, ‘join’, ‘sign up’, ‘book’ or ‘claim’ to move the reader to the next step in the process.


Unsubscribe Link

Yes, yes, I know. You don't really want to give your prospects an option to leave your list. But you MUST. It is against electronic communication regulations to not do so. At the end of the day wouldn't you rather be speaking to people genuinely interested in your products or services as opposed to tire kickers wasting your time? I know I would.

In addition to an unsubscribe link, consider an option for subscriber to manage their preferences. Perhaps they wouldn't want to unsubscribe entirely but prefer to only receive one email a month as opposed to weekly. This can help maintain your base effectively and ensure that you are communicating to your prospect based on their preferences.

Privacy Policy

It's not only those BBC (born before computers) that experience concerns over online privacy and spam. Providing a link to your privacy policy that describes exactly how you use their email address will help alleviate any friction or anxiety they may experience with email sales or lead generation sign-ups. This is a simple addition to all your email templates that will help boost your click-through metrics.

Social Sharing

While this may not be strictly considered as a footer element as they can be located elsewhere, incorporating social sharing buttons are fantastic tools for expanding your email marketing and reaching new potential leads, with very little effort on your part.

And remember to...

Test, analyse and refine

By testing the various elements and analysing the impact, you are able to continually improve your email marketing results. Determine what works best for your audience and adjust your emails accordingly. And then test, analyse and refine again! And again!

So there you have it. All the elements to pay attention to when creating your marketing emails. 



...my two cents worth


It's a lot more rewarding when you work with like-minded individuals who keep you in-the-loop, are keen to share knowledge and who are passionate about turning-out a kick-ass product.


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