3 min read

Anatomy of an Email


When it comes right down to it, email marketing is all about getting the basics right. Email makes it extremely easy to personalize communications and segment offers by customer type and behavior. In addition, it can be deployed far more quickly than more traditional forms of marketing communications. However, it’s important to also make sure you’re looking at what the metrics mean – not just the numbers. In this blog I will discuss how to increase open rates, best practices for creating a captivating subject line in addition to other email marketing best practices.

Subject Line

A great email campaign starts with a great subject line. It should grab your subscribers attention and give the recipient a reason to check out your content. To find the right subject line, test it! Whatever your approach, it’s important to keep your audience in mind, and test keywords and phrases to see what they prefer. I recommend using emoji’s sparingly as it could cheapen your message. Mailchimp offers a free subject line researcher tool, which predicts how a word or phrase will perform. You can also split test (AKA A/B Test) your campaign to see if different subject lines will help increase your open rates.

Time of Day

The time of day at which you send your email does effect your open rate. This is largely dependent on your audience. I am often asked if daytime or nighttime is better – this too depends. For business professionals, I recommend sending during the daytime (between 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM) or when a professional is most likely to open an email. In dentistry – an industry that I have worked in for over five years – I recommend doing a morning send. The reason? Because most dentists that I know are completely bogged down by noon and less likely to pay attention to the email. If your email will be going to personal email addresses, I recommend doing a 6 PM send. Monday’s are always nuts, but Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays as a general rule of thumb all make great days for email sends. Bear in mind that while 23% of emails are opened within 60 minutes after being sent, there are some that it may take a few days.


The approximate length of an email is always a tricky question to answer, so here it is: The best 20 lines of text — or about 200 words — results in the highest email clickthrough rate for most industries. This of course does not guarantee that your email will be opened. A more accurate answer would be, as long as it needs to be. The length that works best for your audience depends on a few things: the amount of information required to make a purchase decision, the frequency of your email messages, and the type of communication being sent. Keeping your information concise and easy to scan will help organize your thoughts and cut down on length. Readers tend to scan content online rather than read it word for word. So, design your emails accordingly. This means using short paragraphs, plenty of white space, and relevant images to create a flow that’s easy on the eyes.


Images – they are so compelling that we cannot not watch them. Your email will most likely need to sell itself within an email preview pane no matter what email service provider it’s sent to. Because of this, you’ll want to be careful that it isn’t too large. You’ll have about 600 pixels of length across and about three inches of depth. Heavy use of email graphics make the email hard to load for the reader – so try and avoid this if possible. Instead follow the 30/70 rule and maintain a ratio of 30% images versus 70% text. Keep in mind the readers who view messages in their preview pane. For these readers, smaller images above the fold will be viewed better than larger images below the fold. If you are using an additional image that relates to a specific part of your article than it should close be to that content.

Call To Action

And last, but not least – include call to action buttons. For shorter emails, one call to action button will suffice. For longer emails however, don’t just include a single call to action link buried at the bottom of your email. A study by Silverpop found that 6 to 10 links within an email generates the highest number of clicks.

In conclusion, email marketing best practices will assist you in creating great content that resonates, increase conversions, and ultimately maximizes the effectiveness of your message. I recommend these practical tips while designing your email, but bear in mind that it needs to be to scale. The business benefits are endless and only continue to improve. Keep these email marketing best practices in mind and you’ll have to start setting some higher sales goals.

Share This