Mar 25, 2024
Growth Marketing Tips
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 min read

How to design world-class marketing emails

Over 300 billion emails are sent yearly. That's 300 billion with a B. 

When thinking about crafting your emails, it’s important to realize the volume of emails going out daily and use everything in your toolbox to cut through that noise. It doesn’t work to just simply send emails anymore. Instead, you need impeccable thought and design to convert folks. 

Rather than have long sections throughout this article, I decided to take a different approach and list eight items you can be doing today to improve your emails and join the top 1% of emails. 

One important callout before we start, is my recommendation that you A/B test all of these items to validate with your own audience. There may be some differences between niches, but I’ve tried to make these tips general enough so that it will help 98% of startups. 

Starting with #1: Sender name 

There are a few configurations that work, but the one I’ve seen perform best is using this format: First name + “from” + company name. For example, if I was running the email program at Hubspot, it would look like this: Jonathan from Hubspot. 

There are a few reasons why this works; firstly, you add a personal touch with a human name, rather than starting off sounding corporate. But more importantly, it blends the personal with the company, so that there is still association with your brand. Sometimes I’ll see no human name or no company name and they either sound too corporate or too random.

#2: Subject line ideal length

Research done by Marketo showed that the golden length for subject lines is 41 characters or 7 words for maximum open rates. Another surefire way to increase open rate, is to add emojis. From what I’ve seen anecdotally, and with various studies, has shown 5-10x improvements. Below are some examples of a discount email for leap year sales.

Good example: 29% off for Leap Day 🤑

Bad example: Time to save some money this leap day. Check out our sales

#3: Make header section appealing

Once someone clicks into your email, they’re greeted with your header section, which should house the most important and compelling info. My biggest recommendation is to make the header section clear and concise. Instead of cluttering it with information, make it easily digestible. Continuing with the Leap Day theme from the above examples, I would potentially share an image of the products I’m selling, with discount signs overlaid on top. 

E.g. this Krispy Kreme example makes a great email header: 

It helps that donuts are visually appealing. 

#4: Keep email body concise

The body of the email should not be as meaty as you think it should be. Short and concise wins, and the general rule is to not exceed 200 words including the header. In the last week, I’ve received examples of strong and weak emails, which I’ll add here for everyone’s learning. 

Exaggerated heavy-text example versus a golden sub-200-word example. 

It’s a stark difference between these two emails, with the email on the right being much easier to digest. Be more like the email on the right. 

#5: Colors are crucial 

With various email clients and dark mode being the craze on devices, it’s crucial to make your emails easy to read across the board. How can that be done? Well, the easy answer is to make the primary header section and sections you don’t want distorted into images. The beauty of images is that regardless of email client, they will all look the same. 

Continuing with the Callaway email from above, they used images for all of the golf balls. If they would have put those golf balls on a transparent background, you wouldn’t be able to see them on lighter email clients since the ball is white itself. 

Callaway ensures emails look great on all clients by using images of items they don’t want distorted. 

#6: Make your CTAs clear

Instead of being vague with your button CTAs, let readers know exactly what they’re going to do when clicking. This removes the friction of not completely understanding what you want them to do. Below is an example of an ecommerce store’s 20% off sales email, and two CTAs they could have used: 

Good example: Shop 20% Off Styles

Bad example: Shop Now

This store is telling readers that once they click the button, they’ll be redirected to the shop where they can buy items that are 20% off. This is much clearer and also more appealing than just “shop now”. Stand out by being clear in your CTAs.

#7: Personalization wins

The more you can personalize, the higher all of your key metrics will be. A company like Callaway could collect the level of golfer I am during sign-up, so their emails could address my pain points and solutions to what I needed. As a beginner, maybe they’d send me content on the golfing fundamentals; if I’m an expert maybe I’d get info on their latest golf club technologies. 

If you don’t have user info, that’s okay, and you can still collect it by sending surveys like the one below. This is something I highly recommend doing earlier rather than later.

Demand Curve’s newsletter collecting user information.

#8: Vary your content

If you keep getting discounts from the same company, it’ll inevitably lead to fatigue and less email opens. I’ve encountered this firsthand with certain companies who send crazy discounts multiple times per week, making it less exciting and fatiguing me as a customer.

It’s important to remember that not all emails have to have a sales objective. As long as you’re keeping your brand top of mind for readers and are providing value, the rest will fall into place. 

A few content ideas outside of sales-focused emails can include informational, educational and entertaining. There’s a reason why brands such as Robinhood have a newsletter (Robinhood Snacks) that’s filled with news and helpful information regarding the stock market. It helps associate Robinhood as a thought leader in stocks and investing. 

#9: A/B testing to validate

This wouldn’t be a growth newsletter without advocating for A/B testing. Make sure to split test all the emails you send out, and always strive for better metrics. Nowadays, most email clients make it dead simple to launch A/B tests. 

If you need inspiration on email design or types of A/B tests to launch, I highly recommend sites such as to help with your ideation. 

If you implement even just one of these tips, you will be off to a better start with your email marketing efforts. Looking to learn more about world-class growth setups? I recently wrote about how to launch a world-class landing page that’s received great feedback. 

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