Making every word of your email promotions and newsletters really work

16th May 2016 | Posted in Marketing communications


You want to send out an email campaign or a newsletter to attract prospective or current customers. You know you’ve got a reason for doing it (don’t you?) but what else can you do of value that doesn’t completely confuse the reader?

Let’s look at the various components you can include in your email message.

But actually, before we do that, let’s talk about your brand.

Tone and style

Do you have a company brand? Does it tell you how to talk to your audience in your written communications, such as your website, brochures, newsletters or campaigns? Find out if you have and make sure you follow it so that your email sounds like it comes from the same organisation as all your other communications. You might find guidelines on design and images too.

Even if you’re the smallest organisation, you will have some feel about how you present your business to your customers. It might be professional but approachable, or warm and chatty, from a business entity or an individual. Whatever you decide upon, keep it consistent throughout your communications.

Now let’s look at the components of the email.

The greeting

By personalising your emails you can help your audience to feel recognised. So start with a greeting that includes the recipient’s name. But be aware that this can go so wrong if you’re in too much of a hurry. An email with someone else’s name in the greeting or even Dear [insert name here] rather spoils the point. So do test.

The heading

This is so important. You want your recipients to read on to find out what it is you are offering. So something short and sharp that’s also informative and enticing works best.

The body

Now you have the chance to explain yourself. The length of your body text depends on what you think your readers want to know and what their attention span is like.

If you’ve got a simple message like money-off offers you can keep the body very short and link directly off to further information about the products or services and how to buy.

If you aim is to share news or information you may prefer to go for a longer format. Probably best even so to go beyond three or four paragraphs. If you’ve got a lot to say you can always link to a news page on your site and benefit from visitor numbers at the same time.

Other stuff

This is your opportunity to hook your readers into your other content. If you have relevant downloads, videos, related articles and blogs or other offers, it’s worth mentioning them briefly by adding sections, maybe boxes, to the design of your email. You can be inventive in how you present these other links to your content. You could use ideas like “Tip of the day”, “Our readers’ favourites” or “Have you seen?”


Well thought out images do work to make an email attractive to open and read. Obviously if you’re promoting a product then it has to be a product image, but if you have more flexibility, go for it. Don’t necessarily choose the obvious images for your market. Retailers may not be excited to see more images of tills and shopper but an eye-catching image of something different that is vaguely relevant to your content could make them pause to look. If you’re the business owner, would it be appropriate to include your image? Would your readers react better to images of people or things? Activity or calm? Local or global? Plenty of areas to think about.


If you’re personalising how you address the email you may want to personalise the sign-off. You’ll find many emails concluded with a cheery goodbye and a scanned signature from a named individual. This isn’t absolutely necessary. It really depends on the style and content of your message as to whether it’s appropriate and it’s more a consumer-focused technique that a B2B tool.

Subject line

Now you’ve got the basic content of your email worked out, you can go back to thinking about the subject line. This is just about the most important line of words you’ll write because it will cause your recipients to open, scroll on by or even delete your email. So what you don’t want to do is use something like “Acumen newsletter”. Think about what approach will work best. Questioning? Intriguing? Humorous? Slightly alarming? Many organisations work with two different subject lines, sending each to half their audience and analysing the results to see which seems to work best. It’s a good idea to direct the subject line directly to your reader just as you have with the body of your email.

Not everyone sees previews but if they do succinct and inclusive is a good plan here. If you’ve touched on several subjects in your email, try to mention them all in the preview text to attract as many readers as possible.

End bits

There are a number of informational points you’ll want to include at the end of your message. Copyright information, name and address of publisher, a privacy statement and an unsubscribe option are all important. Links to Ts&Cs would be worthwhile as would the opportunity to provide feedback. You might want to add in links to specific departments as well.


Want to make your newsletters and campaign emails work harder but don’t have the internal copywriting skills? Drop me a line at [email protected] and we can start a conversation about how I can help you create marketing communications that move your readers along in the customer journey.

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