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Marketing Emails that Sell Guide

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Email marketing is an important part of a brand’s marketing strategy to keep leads and customers informed about your brand story and to drive sales. Every digital marketing funnel needs to have an automation email workflow to communicate directly with audiences about what interests them.

I have a system, a process, I use which results in a 60-80% open rate. Yes, my open rate for certain campaigns is 60-80% but my click through rate is so low it’s embarrassing. I obviously have a problem because although my list likes my emails enough to continue to open them, they are not clicking through to my website for the next chapter in my brand story funnel. I think it’s time to find out how I can improve my email template design and content to increase my click through rate.

If you want to explore how to improve your email response ... keep reading for tips, ideas, and insights from email marketing experts.

collaborate to build email list

What you will find in this article on Email Marketing:

The Effectiveness of Email Marketing

Listen to the content on this page

The first email was sent by Ray Thomlinson in 1971, before my time, but barely. By the time the first mass marketing email was sent out in 1978, I was in elementary school oblivious to how email marketing was going to affect my future career.

When the 'Father of Spam' Gary Thuerk, sent a few hundred marketing emails, it resulted in a few complaints and $13 million in sales for DEC machines. It worked in 1978, but does it work 30+ years later?

Email marketing has landed me a few clients and I have spent more than my fair share of money due to emails entering my inbox.

Due to the ability to penetrate an audience at a low cost, both financial and time, the amount of emails being sent can be more than a little overwhelming when you open your inbox on a Monday morning. I've learned that some emails work and others result in a spike in unsubscribes, which is disheartening and to be avoided.

Marketing Email Benchmarks:

I know that my open rate is better than industry standards, according to MailChimp data. However, my click rate is way below the benchmark at less than 1%. To improve my click through results, I reached out and asked people who send email marketing campaigns, for some tips.

According to MailChimp

Here's what they said:

What to Know about Email Marketing Before You Start

Dan Barrett, Co-Founder, Pacific Precious Metals

Templates take time to create, and it's easy to question if they're worthwhile. It's far faster to edit a template than it is to create anything from the start. It's the distinction between copying and pasting text and typing it all over again. It's easier to erase information than it is to add it, so add too much rather than too little when creating your template.

Brent Hale, Chief Content Strategist, Tech Guided

I suggest using industry benchmarks as they are useful for determining where you are in relation to your competitors, but it's more crucial to concentrate on improvement. You shouldn't be concerned about meeting "benchmarks" if you are always increasing your performance.

Adam Wood, Co-Founder, RevenueGeeks

Experiment - A/B testing is your new best buddy when it comes to increasing click-through rates. This entails sending several groups of subscribers, different variations of your email campaign to collect information about the stuff your readers are most interested in. Although the possibilities are limitless, it does not mean your test items should be. I recommend focusing on one or two variables—your most intriguing ideas—and putting them to the test initially. This might include things like length, subject lines, content order, graphics, calls to action, and whatever else you want to compare.

Ernests Embutnieks, CEO and Founder, Perfectgift4

With a "spray and pray" method in which you send mass emails with no segmentation, increasing your click-through rate will be a challenge. As a result, I can't stress enough the significance of segmenting your emails so that each subscriber receives a personalised message. It's a little more work, but half of the e-commerce firms believe that personalisation increases customer engagement.

Martin Seeley Chief Executive Officer at MattressNextDay.

In my experience, one of the great ways in creating email templates is to have appropriate email content. The email content is considered good when it is not lengthy, precise, clear, and without unnecessary sentences. Furthermore, email readers usually spend a short time when reading emails. That is why you should organise each section that can be read in quick seconds. Moreover, about your email template designs, you should select simple templates that suit your email content. Selecting a unique and simple but appealing to your readers is one of the best ways.

Radhika Gupta, founder, and CEO, One Digital Land

Audience segmentation and automated email marketing tools can increase the output by leaps and bounds in terms of customer retention, website traffic, sales, and positive reviews.

Samantha Moss, Editor and Content Ambassador, Romantific

When it comes to email marketing, you must devise a strategy that is both effective and attracts the favourable attention you seek. Begin with the purpose, then add an intriguing subject line, and try to figure out who your target audience is and how to reach them based on market preferences.

You can also include videos and images in your email as long as they are relevant. Also, to increase email open rates, utilise subject lines that grab their interest and lead them to open the email.

Daniel Veiga, Founder, Danny Veiga Marketing

When planning an email campaign, you need to consider what your readers would be interested in. You can do this by surveying your audience or researching what's popular on other websites. You should also consider what's relevant to your brand and what you want to achieve with the campaign. For example, if you're running a sale, you might want to write about the products that are on sale. If you're trying to increase brand awareness, you might want to write about topics that are relevant to your industry.

A few general tips can help you increase click-through rates:

1. Keep your subject line short and catchy

2. Write a brief introduction that explains what the email is about

3. Use lots of images and formatting to break up the text

4. Provide a clear call to action.

Michael Humphreys of Z Grills Australia

When planning email campaigns, you should always make your emails useful to the receiver. Include information that will give value to the reader. Don’t make the email about yourself, but make sure it includes information that can solve their problems.

When sending cold emails, it’s best to not put any attachments or links. This increases the chances of the emails ending up spam. When the contact replies, this is when you can include links and attachments.

Julian Goldie, CEO, Goldie Agency

I recommend making eye catching images your focal point and letting everything else follow from there. If you can instantly grab a subscriber's attention with stunning visuals, they're more likely to engage with your content and click through to your offer. So make sure to make visuals an integral part of your email formula, this will open the door for further engagement.

Remember that customers want to feel valued by the companies in which they invest. The lack of personalisation that comes with automation can be a concern in email marketing, they only consent to give up their personal information in exchange for more personalised offerings.

Analyse your customers' purchasing habits, open rates and preferred products or services before crafting an email that relates to those behaviours.

David Latimer, Head of Marketing, Petzyo

One of the best processes for email marketing is to decide on your goals. Is it to generate more website traffic? Increase sales? Boost blog viewership? It's the answer to these questions and more that will help you determine your strategy moving forward.

Look at the persona of your typical customer and generate an email campaign that would be beneficial to them. If you don't take this into account your strategy is unlikely to be successful.

And although it sounds basic, the signup process for your email newsletter should be simple and seamless. If you can get it down to a click or two and entering in an email address, you've succeeded.

ebook lead magnet for email

Jared Bauman, Co-Founder, and CEO, 201 Creative

Every email should have a clear purpose. A new product that you've just released could need some promotion. Subscribers might be interested in hearing about a special offer you're offering for a limited time, such as a flash sale. Or maybe you just want to increase the number of people that visit your website. Your aim should be obvious since this will help you "communicate with a purpose so that your message may be heard loud and clear" by those who are listening

Marques Thomas, CEO and founder of QuerySprout,

Many people may not think about it, but some business owners create email templates whenever they send updates or answer customer queries. Doing so allows them to have an organized and comprehensive message to deliver for their clients. It is essential when you want to build a relationship with them, especially if you are just starting in the business field.

I know that when it comes to my email list, the open rate is due to successfully managing and segmenting the list by removing those who don’t want to be there. You can’t have the intended outcome if you’ve got the wrong list.

Once we have a strategy, it’s time to choose our tools.

I’ve used a variety of programs. Currently, I am using a new email marketing and automation program by RAYL.Apptive, a super app with interconnected tools to run marketing, sales, operations, finance, employees, and more.

I’ve been using Zoho Campaigns for my emails, and I like how I can set up automated workflows and start each new subscribed email into an automated process.

MailChimp was my standard go to, however I am not liking their new design platform. Plus, the open rate, no matter what segmentation I use is always only 27-32%, which I find frustrating.

Which email marketing tool do you prefer and why? Let me know in the comments. To get us started on a list of tools to use I asked a few people which programs they like.

Email Marketing automation work flow and templates

I like how zoho campaign enables you to visually map out the workflow and add specific scores and tags based on behaviour not perception.

Which Tools to use for Email Marketing Templates?

I chose Zoho because it had 40 integrated apps to manage every aspect of my business for one affordable monthly fee. I was happily surprised to discover how much I liked Zoho Campaign due to the ability to map out the workflow and add specific criteria based on the behaviour of the recipients instead of assuming.

In the end it enables me to send emails to people based on their interests instead of a general email to everyone.

It is easy to use

I can save templates to use again

It has easy to understand reports

I can segment lists to ensure personalisation

It gets through to the email inboxes better than Mail Chimp did

I can use my own email address to send the emails

It integrates with the CRM, social, and other Zoho apps for automation

The best part is that it saves me money. All 40 apps costs me less than Mail Chimp or other stand alone programs.

Olivia Tan, Co-founder, Cocofax

I prefer to use Mailchimp, a popular email marketing equipment that also offers free email templates that you can use for your campaigns. The website has a collection of hundred plus pre-designed templates that you can use to send different sorts of emails.

Jonathan Tian, Co-Founder, Mobitrix

HubSpot Marketplace is the best place or approach to buying templates for your email. Here you'll get both paid and free HubSpot templates, and these templates will personalise your email and make your content look attractive.

Nailing the email subject line is the best way to increase the Email click-through rate. However, studies also depict that 54% of recipients consider the subject line as a crucial part of the email.

Sergey, Chief Operating Officer, PurrWeb

We have been using Sendinblue for the last few years in our organisation, and its templates are working best for us. Sendinblue offers a wide range of responsive templates, great for most businesses. It is convenient for us since it does not require specific programming languages or tools.

Marilyn Gaskell, Founder of TruePeopleSearch

We use MailBakery and Litmus. These two responsive email templates are free to use and work nicely with your email content.

The best way to structure an email is to check and test your subject lines and include social sharing options. This will increase the click through rates significantly. In an email campaign, it is necessary to write catchy slogans or teaser texts to attract the receiver. Therefore, the email campaign must be properly planned and relevant content.

I believe in simplicity, so for me, less is better. By less, I do not mean that I compromise on the quality; instead, sophistication is my top priority.

Kevin Izevbigie, Founder, S2 Digital

Deliverability is everything.

Before you send out an email, use Mail Tester to see if the email will go to spam and why. Finally, you should be cleaning your email list every quarter. You can use tools like or the inbuilt cleaning functions of your CRM to remove emails that are fake or deactivated.

When it comes to choosing the email marketing software you will use, know what you need from the program before you commit. Don’t buy the one everyone else is using or the biggest brand name in the marketplace. You need a program that suits your email marketing and template design needs. Once you’ve narrowed the list down to 3-5 platforms, test each platform with a small campaign to see which one you like before you buy a subscription.

How do You Design a Marketing Email Template?

When creating an email template design or structure, think of how one tells a story. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning is the purpose of the email. The middle provides interest, and you must end with a clear call to action.

When I structure a template, I start with a headline and sub-headline to let them know what the email is about. I then ask them three questions to determine if they need to know more about the topic before I give a tip or two, which they can implement right away to improve their brand storytelling. I then end the story with a one call to action – Get more ideas, click here.

Packing in value with an actionable brand storytelling idea.

My emails are text only and don’t have images or videos. I try to keep it short and sweet using as few words as possible, while also packing in the value with an actionable brand storytelling idea. To find out how to improve the structure, design, and content of my email templates, I asked others what works for them.

The format that has worked best for The Website Flip is long-form newsletters. These are newsletters that showcase industry expertise through case studies and/or data-driven reports. our open rates are 45% with a clickthrough rate of 10% on average. The newsletters include a ratio of 80% text to 20% of images on average. We've seen high conversion rates when we partner unique reports with an offer.

Our goal is to provide value in the subscriber's inbox. In return, we get excellent open rates, product sales, and recognition in the industry.

David Farkas , Founder | CEO, The Upper Ranks

Nobody likes to read a crowded and disorganised email; it overwhelms recipients and might lead to higher desertion. Instead, design your layout with user experience (UX) in mind, which means leaving empty/white space and strategically placing your textual and graphic information so that it's structured and easy to consume and navigate.

Use plain text emails. This sort of email does not necessitate the use of any visual components - only plain text. It is the most widely used email format. It is best suited to transmit critical information that may otherwise be lost in the distracting aesthetics of other forms. It is easy to make. The simple text design is a suitable solution for internal corporate communication. If you must use it for marketing, the key is to use excellent writing, keep it brief, and personalise the email as much as possible.

When you personalise an email and adjust it to the receiver, it will appear more attentive, professional, and personable. Email personalisation also aids in the humanisation of your brand. This personalisation aids in the development of a relationship between your company and its email readers, as well as in increasing retention rates.

Because individuals spend more time on their mobile devices, it seems to reason that they would like to access their emails on them as well. When creating emails, employ themes or design components that are mobile-friendly. The width of your email should easily fit inside the margins of a phone; the typefaces should also be visible on a smaller phone screen. You should also consider utilising sufficient line space and properly positioning your CTA button so that your readers may effortlessly click on it with their thumbs. Before sending your emails, be sure to preview them to check how they look on different devices.

Marques Thomas, CEO and founder of QuerySprout,

When you want to write an email campaign, you should start it by greeting the recipients. You should also introduce who you are, the business or organisation where you belong. It is essential to build your image so they will have an idea of who you are. You must also state your objectives clearly regarding the campaign you are talking about.

When writing emails, it is essential to be clear and specific so the reader will not find it boring. Remember that e-mails that don't get attention in the first few sentences are often ignored or worse, sent to spam.

Gerrid Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, Joy Organics

Someone who reads your emails, for example, should have the same brand experience as someone who views your company's billboard. Make sure the typefaces, logos, and pictures you're using are the same as the ones you're using on other platforms. When you provide the reader a firm foundation of brand standards, they can concentrate on the new messaging and visuals you want them to see rather than trying to figure out who sent the email.

Scott McKinney, Head of Marketing, Debt Bombshell

Graphics make an email look more impressive and increase its click through as well. It's best when an email is dressed nicely so that customers won't feel bored browsing through it. These elements are salient features for retention and click through rates.

Ben Zellner, Chief Executive Officer, 3000MileMyth

Make Good Use of Pictures. When I talk about the importance of visuals, I sometimes feel like a broken record. However, the reality is that they may be a genuine game-changer for digital marketing. Subscribers are significantly more likely to engage with your material and ultimately click-through to your offer if you can capture their attention with eye-catching pictures.

Nick Antonopoulos of SEO Design Chicago

Make sure that your emails can be read both on mobile devices and desktop devices. Far too many templates focus on only desktop viewing. The problem is more and more people are checking their email on mobile devices. If your email doesn’t come up properly or it’s difficult to understand, those people just aren’t going to stick around. They’ll click out of your email, delete it, or even unsubscribe and that’s all because of poor mobile optimisation.

Justin Caldwell, Co-Founder, All Home Robotics

Create Emails that Scan. When it comes to reading content, 79% of individuals skim it, compared to just 16% who read it word-for-word! Email newsletters are read even more quickly than websites. For most individuals, you should expect them to skim through rather than read the entire piece.

Fahad Jamal, Chief Financial Officer, Puretuber

Stay away from headers that incorporate hyperlinks or several offers in the expectation that anything in the email may persuade recipients to click. This is a warning indicator that your email isn't clear on what it's trying to accomplish.

Krista Haws, Owner, Dripped Coffee

The amount of design in the template also depends on the kind of information you wish to share in the email. If it is an informal or casual email, even over-the-top design elements could be a good idea to make the content even more attractive to the reader. But if the content is formal and straightforward, fewer design elements would be the way to go.

Mike Thompson, Writer and Contributor, Hyperlend

A simple but active introduction is a good provider of first impressions. While when it comes to the design, it is important to consider not to put extravagant designs that can cause the main message to be ignored.

Natalia Brzezińska, Marketing & Outreach Manager,

I never forget to personalize my emails. Using a recipient's name or mentioning the last publication is a gesture that shows that I crafted an email specifically for them.

Sonya Schwartz, Founder, Her Norm

As for me, the best way to do email marketing is to personalise it as much as possible. Emails that have their name on them have a great chance of being clicked by the recipient. Of course, the email itself should also be personalised with their name on it.

Nick Edwards, Director, Snow Finders

You can further target your list and the content of your email by incorporating personalisation components. Knowing about your prospects' and customers' purchase history, download history, satisfaction score, and website activity is an important part of the efficient lead nurturing. Because of the targeted nature of your email, you will be able to present the most appropriate offers, which will result in more click-throughs.

Bradley Bonnen, Founder & CEO, iFlooded Restoration

When marketers were asked to choose one capability that will be critical to marketing in the future, 33% replied "personalisation." Personalisation takes on a new level of click-ability when combined with dynamic content, the ability to tailor who sees each block of text in an email. Readers are far more likely to read to the conclusion of your email if it contains relevant, clear content that feels personalised for who they are, where they live, what they do, and/or what they need.

Alex Bryce, Co-founder, WeInvoice

We always add a P.S. (Postscript) to our message. It is a great way to grab the attention of email scanners. The eye is drawn to the P.S visual call out, and it's a perfect opportunity to A/B test whether including it increases or decreases click-throughs.

Kevin Izevbigie, Founder, S2 Digital

I have noticed people focus on how the email looks. But a an email that looks good doesn't drive results. The words in the email (and the offer in the email) is what drives sales and profit. A good looking email with no words will fail. An email with no design but only words will sell. In fact, our best performing email in 2021 was a long form email (around 550 words). Barely any design.

If people scan, don’t really read what is there, should I be putting more elements into the email template? A few photos, a video, perhaps a poll. What is best, less or more?

Which is better for Email Marketing Template, less or more?

Amit, Founder and CEO, The Links Guy

Less is definitely more, keep in mind the little black dress theory 'classic, understated and timeless'.

Steven Walker, CEO, Spylix

The best template is one that has excellent content inside it. That will be short, crisp with non-cluster words. Small designs can focus on the main message compared to other designs.

Paula Glynn, Director of Search Marketing & Digital Strategy, Pixelstorm

Email template design is tricky because there's never a one-size-fits-all way to create an email. In each case, the focus will be on the specifics of the message and recipient. With that said, you should do your best to keep it simple. In other words, less is more.

Jerry Ford, Owner, 4WD Life

The most important thing to remember is not to talk about everything under the sun. In an effective email, less is more, and the only way to aim for higher click-through rates, a high amount of shares, and the aimed-for action is to get right to the point and make the point as engaging and interesting as possible. Anything else will only serve as a distraction.

Speak to build email list

How do You End an Email and Improve Click Through?

The ending is vital to your brand story in email marketing because it is the transition from one chapter of your brand story to the next chapter where your audience will learn more and be able to take the next action to fulfill the purpose of the email.

Michelle Devani, Founder, lovedevani

Clear call-to-action. Including one clear call-to-action in your email will help you encourage recipients to take specific actions. And this will help you improve your conversion rate.

Jase Rodley, Entrepreneur, Dialed Labs

There are a number of factors at play that can impact an email’s click-through rate. The first ones in line are an appealing subject line, a personalized message that doesn’t look like it was written for bulk emails, a CTA button that is placed at the peak of your email content, and a sense of urgency that prompts immediate action.

Christian Huynen, Chief Executive Officer, DesignBro

Add social media icons to your mail template. Subject lines should be personalized with the name of subscribers. Emails should be optimized for each device. Email teams should be advised to send out emails on weekends

Leszek Dudkiewicz, Head of Marketing , Passport Photo Online

Use applications that incorporate a 'Smart Send' option, meaning the emails will be sent automatically at the best time for each recipient, when they are the most active. This is known to increase click through rates by up to a third.

Emir Bacic, Co-founder, Pricelisto

The best way to increase click-through rates in an email is to make your subject line interesting. It needs to be short and punchy. Try to include a benefit of clicking your links. Make your images relevant and add some social media icons at the bottom with links for readers to share on their favorite networks.

Heather Welch, Resource Manager, Ukulele Tabs

I like to keep things simple. I’ve found that an email template that gets straight to the point without distractions really work - and then include a CTA somewhere in the middle to lower end of the email. You can, of course, include a logo that links to the landing page as well - this can be included at the top of the page.

Now comes the hard part, doing the work to incorporate these ideas into my email templates to improve the click through rates. There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to email template design because there are many reasons to send out an email. If you are announcing a new product, you will want to show an image. Whereas, if you are educating your audience about a new study, a photo may distract from the message because it isn’t tied to the story. The key for succeeding when it comes to creating email templates is knowing who you are sending it to, designing for them, and keeping the message simple.

If you have additional tips and ideas, please add them in the comments to help others improve their email template designs and brand storytelling structure.

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