Email Best Practices from a Professional Writer: Insights and Examples

I’ve been writing a lot of emails for clients lately, and so I thought I’d put together a best practices blog--especially with so many customers sheltering in place and engaging with brands online. So, without further ado...

General Tips

  1. Short is always better (aim for no more than 150 words total including subject line and body copy. Body copy should be no more than 135-140 words). It’s okay to go over every now and then, but keep in mind your customer’s attention span - see #7 below. Another big reason for this shorter length is that mobile devices are the most popular reading medium for emails. Think about the user experience when a customer reads your email.

  2. Avoid “dear [name]” in intro. It often sounds insincere. Go with “hi [name]” instead.

  3. Graphics work best when plugged into a marketing automation platform or when incorporated as part of a formal design layout. Avoid graphics if you're sending a personal email directly to a customer. Let your writing style be the centerpiece.

  4. If you’re introducing yourself for the first time (cold open email), keep it fun, light and engaging. Think of yourself as a consumer or at a party where you’re meeting someone for the first time. You don’t want a long, drawn-out introduction. Keep the customer’s attention with an intro that’s fun and light yet to-the-point.

  5. Include value-added assets whenever possible - point the customer to an eBook, white paper, infographic…anything that continues to provide value and keeps the conversation going. Be sensitive with CTAs that require the customer to fill something out or provide their personal info. This is a key goal of email marketing, but be tasteful and subtle.

  6. If you’re announcing something--a product, event, partnership--make it clear within the first 1-2 sentences of the body copy with all need-to-know info.

  7. The more concise you can be, the better. Humans have an average attention span of 8 seconds - about how long it took you to read this sentence.

  8. Pick and choose when to have a creative opener and when to get to the point. For example, if you’re announcing a new study that just got published, a creative one-sentence intro could help reel the customer in. If you’re thanking them for attending an event or following up on a call, getting straight to the point is probably better.

  9. Err on the side of casual in terms of tone/writing style. Write how you would talk - that’s what makes the copy relatable and enjoyable. For example, use contractions (i.e. don’t vs. do not). Keep it fun, light and engaging. Think of yourself as a consumer. What would you want to open? What would pique your interest?

  10. Always end by making yourself available. Let them know that if they have any questions to not hesitate to reach out.

  11. Incorporate stats when possible - a quick stat can boost the message, drive home your point and show the customer you know your stuff.

  12. If you’re announcing something exciting, encourage the customer to share with others.

Subject Lines

Don’t be afraid to play with subject lines. I encourage creating 5-10 options ranging in tone and creativity depending on the specific customer and desired goal (i.e. casual, inquisitive, humorous, formal/straightforward). Write down whatever comes to mind that you like, then narrow down your options. You don’t need to have several options, but if you do that’s ideal. Use your judgement with how creative or out of the box to get. For example, if it’s a simple call/meeting follow-up, keep it more straightforward.

Email Examples

Here are some examples of emails I’ve written for clients - condensed into templates you can start using today:

1. Call/meeting follow-up email

Subject lines:

Thanks for the Great Call/Meeting

Some Goodies for You

All the Perks We Discussed

Body copy:

Hi [customer name],

It was great meeting/speaking with you this morning/afternoon.

Here’s a recap of what you’ll get with [product/service/event/etc.]:

[list benefits in bullet form]

Some follow-up items for you…

1. Here’s a handy one pager you can print and send to anyone in the department

2. I’ve attached the full slide deck in a PowerPoint to this email [if you included some sort of demo]

If you have any questions, just let me know.

Thanks much,

[your name]

2. Customer feedback email

Subject lines:

Penny (or more) for your thoughts? (if any perks are being offered)

[Topic of survey]: what do you think?

Have a free XXX on me (if any perks are being offered)

Would you try [topic of survey]?

Share your Insights with Us [or instead of "us" you can do company name]

Where do you stand on [topic of survey]?

Body copy:

Hi [customer name],

A recent study found that [enter stat that’s relevant to your topic/reason for reaching out]. Follow up with why this is important to businesses/customers (depending on whether your audience is B2B or B2C).

What strategies are you considering? We’d love to hear about your plans - and your opinions.

Get a free XXX (if perk is being offered) by completing this quick survey where other businesses are also weighing in.


Share your thoughts by completing this quick survey where other businesses are also weighing in.


[your name]

3. Event follow-up email

Below is an email I wrote for a client that took part in a first-ever virtual event due to COVID-19. I had to remove client specifics for anonymity, but this hopefully conveys the thought behind the message.

Subject Lines:

Thanks for Checking Us Out at [event name]

Thanks for Joining Us at [event name]

Body Copy:

Thanks for joining us at [event name]! COVID-19 has made clear that XXXXXX is vital. Peoples’ lives depend on the ability to XXXX--no matter what. Don’t forget to explore all the amazing [company name] resources you unlocked during the event. There’s key information on XXXXXXX.

We sincerely thank every person who’s working on the frontlines of this epidemic. [Company name] is here to help with free XXXXX offers. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can learn more here: [link]

Important Stats

According to a MailChimp study conducted in October 2019, the average open rate for emails is 21.3% and the average click rate across all industries and customers is 2.62%. Use these stats to gauge the performance/effectiveness of your own emails.

According to the latest 2020 data from Campaign Monitor:

  • Emails sent on Tuesdays get the highest open rates of 18.3%.

  • Thursdays and Fridays get the highest click-to-open rates of 14.4%.

  • Click-through rates remain similar (2.6%) for most days except Saturdays and Wednesdays when they are lower.

Happy emailing!