How to Write Emails Your Customers Want to Read

Donald Miller

Published: Nov 22, 2023

← Back to Home

A lot of people think that email marketing is dead. I am here to tell you that emails are one of the best ways for you to communicate with your clients and grow your business. 

And the statistics for email marketing’s ROI prove it: on average, email marketing puts $38 back in your pocket for every $1 you spend on it.

But you can actually do much better than that — if you can put together a smart, effective email campaign when you email your customers and prospects.

Ready to take your email marketing up a notch? Here are seven questions to ask yourself for every email before you hit send to make sure it’s performing at its best for you.

1. Does my subject line grab attention and create interest?

It’s probably the most common email marketing mistake I see small businesses make.

They pour hours into their email campaigns, only to slap a lifeless subject line on it and hit send. As a result, nobody opens the email to actually see all that hard work, and more importantly, they aren't clicking through and buying.

Your subject line is basically an “ad” for your email. It’s how people decide either to keep reading or to move on to one of a bajillion other things vying for their attention.

Try subject lines that are short, clear, and concise. Try others that raise an interesting question. Try one that you’d use in an email to your buddy. Try testing a couple options and see which styles your audience responds to.

My advice? Set a timer for five minutes and brainstorm as many subject lines as you can. You’ll have a much stronger final version to show for it.

2. Is there a single, clear call to action in the top part of the email?

What’s the one action you want your readers to take after they get your email? Buy, schedule an appointment, donate, click to read?

Make sure you’ve included a button and/or a link to that action in the top few inches of your email. Readers shouldn’t have to scroll to see what the point of your email is. Just like we recommend for your website, your call to action should absolutely pop off the screen so it’s easy to act on.

3. Can my readers easily tell who this email is from?

Have you ever been at a noisy barbeque when someone halfway across the backyard said your name? If you’re like me, you stop mid-rib and perk up. Your brain just can’t help it. (It’s called the reticular activating system, if you wanna get all dorky about it, and I do.)

The same part of our brain is at work when we check email. We’re constantly filtering out noise and looking for what’s relevant to us.

That’s why it’s critical to clearly show that YOU are the one sending the email. People need to recognize your brand, your name, and perhaps your logo instantly, so their brains remember you and know your email isn’t noise.

Your email service provider will let you type out any “from name” that will show up as the sender of the email. Choose something compelling and instantly recognizable.


Customer Service


Anna at Greenify Lawn Care

4. Is this email warm and personal?

One of my favorite things about writing emails is how personal they are. Email is one-on-one, direct communication. It should feel like it.

Before you send, make sure your email sounds like it’s coming from a real person, not a robot. As world-renowned email marketer Mark Twain said, “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”

Before you send, read your email copy out loud. This little hack makes it easy to spot the phrases that sound out of place or stuffy and replace them with something more conversational.

5. Does this email look good on my phone?

On average, 56% of your audience is going to open your email on their phone (according to Litmus). But most of us never check or test our emails there to see what our readers will see.

Take an extra two minutes before you send to shoot a test email to yourself and look at it on your phone. Does the call to action still show up without scrolling? Is the font big enough to read? Do the images still look good? Is the button big enough to click?

6. Is this email easy on the eyes?

Earlier, I talked about how our brains are always filtering out noise and looking for the relevant information. The design of your email can help them find it faster.

Opt for a simple, straightforward design. For most of us, a single column layout will work best. Use dark text on a light background. Pick a font color and typeface and stick with it. This is not the time to explore the color menu. Use compelling but relatively small images. (You get bonus points if your images have people in them.)

7. Did I proofread the copy and test the links?

At some point, you will hit send on an email marketing campaign and realize that you’ve goofed something up. Your heart will leap into your throat and you’ll stress-eat Cheetos until it’s fixed (speaking hypothetically).

SEND A TEST, PEOPLE. It’s not enough to click the links while you’re working in your email service provider. You’ve got to do it in the inbox, because it’s the internet, and weird stuff happens sometimes.

Doing this also helps you double check that any personalization features you’re using are working. Plus, there’s just no substitute for seeing your marketing material in the same context as your customers.

Let’s recap:

  • Does my subject line grab attention and create interest?
  • Is there a single, clear call to action in the top part of the email?
  • Can my readers easily tell who this email is from?
  • Is this email warm and personal?
  • Does this email look good on my phone?
  • Is this email easy on the eyes?
  • Did I proofread the copy and test the links?

There’s no easier way to hit your revenue goals than email marketing. I know this checklist is going to help you send better, more effective email campaigns. Happy sending!

Want to write better emails but not sure what words to use? Use the StoryBrand BrandScript tool to create a clear and compelling marketing message that will connect with more customers.

Clarify your message with a StoryBrand Brandscript