How to Create Emails that Hit the Bull’s Eye (and Not the Bin)

0 Comments Mar 21

How many emails do we receive each day? Far too many: in 2015 the worldwide daily traffic of emails sent and received by consumers was around 80.2 million (source: Radicati Group Report). Each email must overcome a treacherous path to reach its goal: the first hurdle is to convince recipients to open your mail, then make them read it, lead them to action, and finally generate shares.

Unfortunately, very few emails manage to reach the end of its path, therefore its target: only 21% of consumers reported receiving a memorable email in the past two months. This percentage drops down to 16% for mobile users (source: Hubspot).


Email on mobile: an uninteresting experience

More and more emails are opened on smartphones and tablets. In 2015, it is estimated that mobile email open rates reached 48%. CTO rates have increased as well, rising up from 12.1% to 13.7% on smartphones. While on desktop, there was a decrease from 23.8% to 18% (source: Marketingprofs).

Yet only 56% of the brands have optimized their emails for these devices (source: Litmus): what are the most common problems that hinder the success of email on mobile?

Poor content readability: images require a long time to load or cannot be displayed properly. The fonts are too small and require users to scroll down or zoom in.

– Lack of customization: a smartphone is a personal tool used by a single individual. When we receive an email, we expect it to engage us directly. If it is a generic promotion, it can easily end up in the trash.

– Confusion over goals:  the call to action button is missing or there are too many of them. This leaves your consumers confused on which button to click.

How to make your emails more engaging?

To spice up your email on mobile, you have to focus on consumers: who they are, what their interests are, and what can attract their curiosity.

That’s easier said than done, but how do we put this into practice? We could say much about what must be done or avoided. But for a more engaging reading, we’ll offer you practical examples to follow… and point out which ones to stay away from.

#1 Choose a single call-to-action

People have little time to read emails especially on mobile. You have to capture their attention within seconds by offering something compelling and inviting them to action: all you need is a single call-to-action button and place it where it is clearly visible.

How to get binned

The email created by Macy’s for Father’s day contained over 15 links and they were not all consistent with the message of the campaign: the buttons referring to products for women or for the home were irrelevant and could be omitted. Only a link to the “Men” would have undoubtedly conveyed the message of the campaign and increased the possibility of conversion.


How to hit the bull’s eye

H&M used a simple, short, and engaging message for discounts. Big fonts and red background, with one possibility of action: click on the shop to see the items discounted up to 50%. It only takes a few seconds to grasp the message and interact with it. This email is to the point and works on mobile as well.


#2 Create short emails

Even when you have a lot to say, choose your words carefully. People who choose to read your email do not deserve to have their time wasted. Reward them with a relevant content.

How to get binned

All items needed for a summer of sport were on offer. The idea of Currys, an online shop for technological items, was good: a seasonal promotion that has an interesting theme. However, their email contains too much text, it is difficult to display on mobile and can easily lose readers’ attention. The result? A lot of people will not click on anything and the campaign won’t have a great outcome.  perfect

 How to hit the bull’s eye

A single item of clothing and a short text to remind that there are only a few more items left in stock. ModCloth’s emails are basic and focused on items that you have previously added to your cart. Their message is relevant and every word was carefully chosen: “If you arrive on the site and the item is already sold out, we’re sorry. But, at least you know you have a great taste!” This is much more effective and consistent with your target than the typical “Last items in stock, buy now!” 


 # 3 Customize the content

With mobile you can locate consumers and use this information to personalize your message by profiling and segmenting the recipients. This is a great potential that should be used in the right way.

How to get binned

While bad weather violently hit the east coast of the U.S., Express sent emails promoting free shipping to clients who lived in that area. Exploiting a natural disaster for an offer of this kind is not the best way to win over your customers. 

How to hit the bull’s eye

Live Nation customized the content of their emails, informing people about the most significant events in their area, and they did so in a particularly ingenious way: those who were out of town for a certain period could still receive updates on their city of origin. In this way, the chance to buy tickets online becomes an even more valued and strategic service.


#4 Be consistent

The subject line of an email is crucial in determining what will happen to the mail itself. It must intrigue and address the recipient individually. But do not overdo it: if the first words are promising, the rest of the message must be just as interesting.


How to get binned

The subject of JC Penny’s email campaign was: “Open to confirm! Everything you need for Easter”. But once the email was opened, there was nothing to confirm. It only shows a gallery with the items on sale for that period. The result of an email like that? The user feels mocked and, in the best-case scenario, they will delete the message. In the worst case, they will click on the unsubscribe link.

How to hit the bull’s eye

In a mailbox where all email subject lines look similar, using unusual words can make a difference. The Basketry presented itself with this subject line: “Join us for a bling-ing good time”. The message is not clear, but it captured readers’ attention. The message inside is dedicated to a jewelry event so, in this case, the subject line makes sense.




#5 Get your timing right

Carrying out special promotions during special occasions and times of the year can be useful to engage people positively. However, you have to offer something relevant at the right time and possibly themed promotions.

How to get binned

Overstock carried out a promotion for President’s Day but it’s such a pity it was sent one week after the event. It was a failure, considering that their 12% discount was too low to be taken seriously by consumers.

How to hit the bull’s eye

Unlike most companies that send emails for Halloween featuring generically themed items, Amazon creates a personalized one based on the user’s own queries. After searching for a product on their website, you will receive an email with a selection of similar products in a few days. It’s a much more effective way to meet people’s interests.


The last step: an optimized landing page

By following the tips above, you can create a simple, engaging, and personalized email sent at the right time and with the right pixels to entice users to click, even on mobile. There’s just one last, crucial step: to land people on a site that is optimized as well. To build one quickly and with a small budget, our advice is to choose an online system for websites and apps. These platforms require no special graphic design skills and offer ready-made templates, perfectly viewable on any device. This is the ideal point of arrival to convert emails clicks into concrete results.

And how will you hit the bull’s eye?

At this point you just have to try out what works best for your customers, by segmenting your target and personalizing the content accordingly. How will you strike a chord with your customers in your next email?

About the Author:

Silvio Porcellana is the CEO and Founder of, the online tool over 1,000 agencies and professionals use to build mobile websites and native apps for customers worldwide. From his retreat in the Monferrato Hills in North West Italy, he bootstraps companies, writes about the web and mobile marketing and helps customers succeed online. Read more from Silvio at blog.

Categorised in: ,

This post was written by Silvio Porcellana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.