The Professional Email Marketer’s 7-Step Checklist To Writing Emails That People Open

how to increase email newsletter open rates
* image by Fiona Robson

OK, let’s get to the heart of the matter.  Why do some emails work like gangbusters and why do some sound like the echo of an empty room?

The professionals know that copy sells, and good copy sells way, way better.

When asked what makes for a bestselling email most amateurs point to a “killer subject line”… one that cant’ be ignored.  While that is true, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

The truth is that there are 7 key concepts you need to get right to create a winning email for your online business.

#1: Are you using ONE main concept or idea?

Here’s the problem, you learned somewhere along the way that if one offer is good, then two is better. And if two is good, then 5 must be better.  If 5 works, then why not 12?

The trick of it is the human brain has a problem with complex problems.  Deciding which item to read, follow, and click on is a challenge when you have 12 items in front of you.

If your reader is anything like you, they get an email and have to deal with it FAST. Make it easy for them.  Give them one concept to see, consider, and deal with.

When you’re planning your email.  Pick ONE thing and ONE thing only… then make your email about that.

 #2:  Is your subject line compelling?

Don’t be clever, funny, cute, boorish, or use double meanings. Those just dont’ work.

Instead if you can appeal to a readers self-interest, and do it in 45 characters or less, you will get the opens.

Appeal to my greed, vanity, fear, pride, or any other emotion and you will have a compelling subject.  The good news is most subject lines do a poor job of this so you WILL be able to stand out.

eg. How to reverse bone loss in 6-months without dangerous meds…

#3:  Is your content interesting (and short)?

Make your content interesting by writing the message to one person the way you’d explain it in person… and you cared about it.

Be excited!  Be enthusiastic!  Be human! Readers like that and respond to that.

After 2,500 email campaigns our testing has shown that short emails work better than long emails at getting a click. It’s harder to be succinct and clear but it’s worth it (in the form of better results).

#4:  Is your message or offer clear?

We’ve covered short but I have to make clear a separate category.  Clarity trumps almost all other considerations in your email.  If you have to stand on your head to come up with a clear message or offer, do it.

#5 How are you using benefit statements?

I’m on hundreds of lists… and I hardly EVER see a benefit used.  Here’s how you tell if you are using a benefit.  Tell me your message.

“We have a new website.” Now ask yourself, “So What?” The answer to the “So What” question is a benefit.  Especially if the benefit is something good for your reader.

Try it.

 Statement:  Here is a copy of The Professional Email Marketer’s Checklist

So What?

Benefit:  So you’ll be able to write emails the way the professionals do.

So What?

The Real Benefit:  So you’ll get better results.

6.  What is your you vs I count?

Once you write your email count how many times you use the words, “I, me, mine, our” vs “you, you’ll, your, you’re.”  You’ll soon find you talk about yourself too much.

Remember to write to and about your reader.  They really pay attention when you are focused on them.

7.  What is your call to action?

Every single email should have a call to action in it.

We love call to actions for two reasons.  Your reader needs to know what to do next and you need to be able to measure and see that your email worked.

A clear, well phrased, compelling, call to action always gets better than a weak call to action and WAY better than none at all.

In Conclusion

Every time you sit down to plan and write an email campaign, pull out this checklist.  You’ll soon notice your results are consistently better than before.  You’ll be sending clear, compelling emails with powerful call to actions…that get people opening your emails and clicking.

Who writes the best emails you’ve ever seen? Can you add any tips to this email marketing best practices list?

AUTHOR: Mitch Tarr is the head email marketing consultant at ZinMarketing, an email marketing agency that has an incredible track record helping businesses increase sales and customer loyalty with email. Get the report – “10 Surefire Ways To Use Email To Increase Your Bottom Line” at


  1. says

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  2. Loretta says

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I
    stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read through content from other authors and practice something from their sites.

  3. says

    Love it! I have been marveling over how to formulate my emails the RIGHT way and I believe I have found the cure! Thanks for such insight. This post is straight forward and clear to understand. I love No. 2 and the headlines as I totally agree with appealing to what your prospect and or buyer REALLY wants and not keeping surface level.

    Tip: Be sure to tease your upcoming email with an enticing benefit-driven P.S section at the end of your email. This will keep the reader looking forward to your next mailing. Remember to tell short stories in your mailings as well that connect with your audience.

    Now I can and will improve my email follow up series.
    Steven Hennigan

  4. says

    First of all I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I’ve had a hard
    time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.
    I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?

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