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The Anatomy of a Killer Marketing Email

Kayla Mejer |5 min Read

The Anatomy of a Killer Marketing Email

We’ve all done it — mindlessly sift through our email inbox and just delete, delete, delete, until there are no new messages. Sometimes emails clutter up our inboxes to the point where it’s almost dizzying. But then, once in a while, we read a subject line that makes us stop in our tracks and laugh, become intrigued, or even inspired. That’s the power of a killer marketing email.

Email marketers know the struggle of receiving dozens of emails on a daily basis all too well. And they understand how easy it is for leads and prospects to miss an email that could hold the solution to their biggest problem. However, when email marketing is done well, it actually generates a 4,200% ROI. So the question is how can you ensure that each marketing email you send is optimized for success? 

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a killer marketing email — the structure, the content, and beyond. 

An Effective Marketing Email Always Has an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line

First impressions are everything. The last thing you want is for your email recipients to gloss over your email subject line and move on to the next. In fact, 47% of people decide whether or not to open marketing emails based on the subject line alone. Let’s face it — without an eye-catching subject line, there’s nothing to motivate people to open the email and see what’s inside!

There are multiple ways to get creative with your marketing email subject lines. At the end of the day, it all depends on what you're offering and your specific goals. For instance, if your goal is to get people to re-engage with your organization, a personalized email subject line such as “We’ve missed you, [Name]! Please come back!” may work best. Yet, there are so many marketing email subject line possibilities. 

Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Fear of missing out subject lines
  2. Subject lines that peak curiosity 
  3. Funny subject lines that are enticing
  4. Subject lines that address pain points
  5. Subject lines that contain emojis

For an in-depth guide on subject line best practices with examples, check out our blog, How to Write Effective & Catchy Email Subject Lines (examples inside).

Marketing Emails with a Clean and Simple Design Perform Better

While we know that bright images and bold designs can grab the attention of a viewer, sometimes, less is more. Large images in HTML marketing emails can slow down the time it takes for an email to load. The longer the email takes to load, the higher the probability that viewers will return to their inbox without ever viewing the email. In fact, a recent Hubspot study found that a simple HTML template with enough white space between graphics and text had a 5.3% higher clickthrough rate and received 30% more clicks than a heavily-coded and complex HTML template.

Take a look at the marketing email example below from Cloud Channel Network. In between each graphic and text, there is ample white space separating each offering with a clear and direct call to action at the bottom of the email. 

Take a look at the marketing email example below from Cloud Channel Network. In between each graphic and text, there is ample white space separating each offering with a clear and direct call to action at the bottom of the email. 

Here’s the bottom line — less is more. The best practice is to mix both HTML and simplified text-only emails throughout your email marketing campaigns to maximize engagement. 

Persuasive Copy is Key to Driving Desired Outcomes

Remember how in your high school English class you covered the three persuasive writing techniques: ethos (credibility), pathos (emotions), and logos (reason)? These three elements are still key to creating effective and persuasive marketing email copy. For example, say you're at an IT infrastructure company reaching out to DevOps engineers. Creating an email using ethos could include a snippet such as, “Major IT organizations like RedHat use [this product] to simplify their deployment pipeline.” This example proves that the “product” is credible. If RedHat, a leading IT organization is using this product, it must be well worth the purchase!

The next effective way to write persuasive copy is to use pathos. Here is an example: “Peace of mind is priceless. Our IT automation solution will secure your data 24/7 so that you can sleep soundly at night." In this example, the reader is being emotionally motivated by the enticing thought that their worries about data security can be put to rest with one simple product. 

Finally, we have logos. Logos is the act of reasoning with your recipients by providing them with facts and statistics. For example, “Our research finds that 67% of DevOps professionals accelerate their CI/CD pipeline up to 150x with [this product].” If that’s not an impactful statistic, what is? Including this in a marketing email will provide the reader with the understanding as to why a product is so beneficial. 

By using these persuasive techniques, your emails are sure to be successful. However, it’s also important to remember to keep the copy short, to the point and relevant. By properly segmenting contacts you can ensure that the most relevant emails are sent to the right prospects. For instance, you wouldn’t want to send out an email targeting platform engineers to your entire database of DevOps professionals. With proper contact segmentation, you can send the audience-specific email to just platform engineers. 

For more information on email segmentation best practices, take a look at our blog, 5 Common Mistakes Email Marketers Make Before Reading This.  

Including a Strong Call to Action is Crucial to Email Success

What is the one goal of your marketing email? Is it to get someone to download an ebook? Read a blog? Schedule a consultation? Whichever it is, make sure that the call to action (CTA) is bold, clear, and prominent in the email. Ultimately, the placement of the CTA affects the overall performance of the email. When an email has a singular focus with one CTA, it’s important to follow the logical progression of the email. 

For example, people typically read an email from the top to the bottom. Therefore, your CTA should follow the copy and be placed at the bottom of the email. Think about it. If the CTA button says “Download the Ebook” and is placed at the top of the email, the reader has no idea what the ebook is even about! That’s why it’s crucial to include all the facts about your offering prior to the placement of the CTA button.

Additionally, it's important to keep the body copy of the email short and sweet so the CTA appears as high up in the email as possible. This will mitigate endless scrolling by the recipient to find the CTA. 

Pro Tip: Having one clear call to action is key. This way, the entire email drives people to complete the goal of your email: reading a blog, downloading an ebook, etc.

Final Thoughts