Day 3: Carefully plan your email message

We are right in the middle of our 5-day course and so far, we’ve taken time to understand why we are even considering sending emails to our people and gone one step further to choose one email we want to focus on! We now know who we are emailing and why we want to email them.

So, it’s finally time to write the email. As I’ve said before, many people start here and that’s a huge mistake. So you’re going to rock today’s action because you’ve already completed a big portion of the work!

There are a few elements that all great emails have in common.

  1. They are personal. I don’t just mean they include a field where you can insert a first name automatically. People aren’t impressed by that anymore because everyone can do it. I mean the emails are actually tailored to each person receiving them and relevant.

  2. They convey something important that matters and it’s easy to tell what that something is.

  3. They are brief. Most emails are read on-the-go, on a mobile device and skimmed at best. The great ones get to hang out in the inbox for a few days and might be re-read.

  4. They offer a clear call to action — they tell the reader exactly what’s expected of them.

Remember back on day one when we talked about how certain emails made us feel? This is where that lesson becomes important. Once you can determine the elements of the emails that make you happy, or at the very least, don’t annoy you, you can strive to create an email that also conveys that same feeling. But the ultimate test? Once you get done writing the email, ask yourself: If I received this email, would I want to read it?

So what key elements should every email include:

  • A compelling subject that clearly tells the reader what the email is about. Bonus points here if you can include an action word like: take, download, reserve, ask, buy, give, etc.

  • A personalized message that focuses on the reader, not the sender. Your email should include words like you and yours, and very few words like we or I.

  • A brief amount of content. Your sentences should be direct and concise. If you’re not sure where to begin or not a fan of writing in general, start from the end and work backwards. Come up with your call to action first and then write content that makes the case for why the reader should do that particular action.

  • A call to action that’s visually appealing and short. Turn the goal of your email that you determined back on day two into a short call to action. Tell the reader exactly what you want them to do.

Today's 5-minute task

Open up your email window and start a draft of your email to the audience you chose yesterday (or write it out on paper - whatever works for you!). Don't worry about making it perfect. Just get the main point down and try to include each of the elements we just discussed.

A quick word here on design. Most of the email platforms out there give you templates to work with and some are pretty heavy on the photo/visual side of things. And while most people will tell you they prefer this type of email, research shows that less design = greater readership.

Keep your emails looking simple. Add a logo or a small photo if it enhances the message but not for the sake of making it look pretty.


In tomorrow’s lesson, we’re going to talk about the best time to send emails! While there is no magic formula for just the right day/time to send emails, there are some best practices that can help you ensure your well-written email hits the inboxes when it’s most effective.

Remember to comment on the course homepage about today’s takeaway or what you’re hoping to learn this week! And, to complete your 5-minute task! Have questions about today’s lesson? Email me at andrea@oneninedesign.net



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Andrea Shirey