How to Create Better Experiences With Your Emails

What makes a good email newsletter? Is it the content? The design of the email itself? In reality, both of these elements need to be in top form in order for an email to be considered good; no one will care about an email with a lousy offer, just as people won’t call a disorganized email a good one.

So your job as a marketer is twofold: you need to create content that’s relevant with offers people want while designing your emails to be aesthetically pleasing.

To give you insight on how to do this, we’ll analyze three example emails with help from User Experience Designer Jessica Ivins.

The Container Store

The Container Store

Right away, you see the benefit The Container Store has to offer their customers: an easy solution for organizing kids’ stuff. This answers the “what’s in it for me?” question that runs through everyone’s mind when they open an email. The Container Store is offering a solution to a problem.

For those already sold on this idea, there’s a link to their store right at the top. For those that need more convincing, there are images of some of the products that can help solve this problem.

“I dig the images and labels for most of the modules in this layout,” says Jessica. “However, I noticed that the top two modules Easy as ABC and Happy Organized Home Sale seem very busy, just a little overwhelming on the eye. There’s quite a bit of color and typographic variation which comes across as a little unpolished.”

The Container Store could test a toned-down version that’s not quite as busy up top, and see if that increases click-through rates.



As a nonprofit organization, the ASPCA’s goals are slightly different from retail stores, but ultimately they share the same end goal to convince readers to take action. Their opening paragraph jumps right in talking about the benefits of vaccinations – the main topic of this newsletter.

To further convince their readers, they included a small Q & A section, making the most visible sections ones that answer “what’s in it for me?” The navigational links in the right sidebar complete the user-friendly experience.

“This layout’s nice and clean. It’s easy to scan, which is great,” says Jessica. But if you’re looking for a friendly or personal letter from the ASPCA, that’s not happening. “The tone of the this email is very dry and clinical,” she adds. “It just doesn’t seem very friendly or engaging. I’m not sure if this is something they’d want to consider changing, but this ties more holistically into content strategy and branding.”

House of Bespoke

House of Bespoke

Unlike the last two examples, House of Bespoke has short, to the point emails that require zero scrolling. However, they do still present the benefit to subscribers. In this one, House of Bespoke is suggesting a Father’s Day gift idea and has a ‘swatch sorter’ to help you find the right fabric.

But is short good? “Of the three, this seems the most unfinished to me,” says Jessica. “The right column (black area) seems self-contained and isolated from the rest of the layout, as if it were tacked on. There seems to be no typographic system in place. Font choices are pretty basic and don’t adhere to the sophistication and style of the logo.”

Jessica’s not sold on the call to action either: “The content also does not seem to be very actionable. As a general rule, you want to give people enough information and context to take the next step. There’s a generic photo of a man in a suit that doesn’t illustrate anything specific or support the features touted.”

House of Bespoke would benefit from testing short vs. long copy, in order to see if more information will bring more action.

Need Help With Your Emails?

Check out these two guides:

User Friendly Emails

Have you ever opened an email and found no way to contact the sender or even get to the company’s site? Follow this guide to make your emails as user-friendly as possible!

Call To Action Guide

Your calls to action are the point of decision for your subscribers to click or not to click. You want to encourage clicks, but how? Use this guide to find out.


  1. Randall Magwood

    11/8/2012 7:24 pm

    I think both the design of the email and content plays a major part when it comes to email marketing effectiveness. Personally I like text emails, but due to the past blog posts, I’m slowly thinking about migrating to HTML emails. Lot of perks here.

  2. Ti Roberts

    11/8/2012 10:20 pm

    Great article, Crystal. I love the layout and designs of these emails. I’ll be working on improving the design and appeal of my emails in the near future, so this article will definitely come in handy. Thanks for sharing this with our BizSugar community.


  3. Karen Newman

    11/9/2012 5:16 am

    Thanks for your email but the links at the foot of the page are not working I am particularly interested in your guide to calls to action?

  4. Crystal Gouldey

    11/9/2012 8:35 am

    Karen – the link appears to be working, but if you are still having difficulty you can try this one.

  5. Moravcsik Andra

    11/11/2012 6:26 am

    Great post. I love industry posts that discuss more psychological aspects, so I loved reading about the two types of disinhibition.

  6. Chimezirim Odimba

    11/13/2012 12:21 pm

    I believe that a good publisher will know what resonates with his/her subscribers if care had been taken to focus on a target customer and meet their needs to the minutest details. Should it be long? There are niches were long messages won’t cut it and there are niches where you need to give them details.

    The point is: You will deliver a better email experience (and get superior results) if you get to know your ideal customer.

  7. Nondas A

    11/14/2012 3:53 am

    Well at the end of the day if what I’ve been emailed is a great read, then I won’t hesitate in sharing it. I expect those who I’m connected with, to do the same giving me the opportunity to like, share, favourite, retweet, reblog and/or repin it.

    You can’t go wrong as long as the person writing the content is empathetic with their busy audience i suppose.

    Just PLEASE don’t add a ‘forward to a friend’ option in your emails…

  8. Molly

    4/18/2013 2:55 pm

    Another great article, Crystal! I’m always impressed with how much great content you offer.
    I’m curious, Nondas A, why not add “forward to a friend”?

  9. Tina

    5/14/2013 1:29 pm

    Another great article on email tips.

    I always find your articles full of helpfull information that is hard to find anywhere else.

    Thank you

  10. Broz Smoz

    8/4/2014 11:03 am

    I think both the design of the email and content plays a major part when it comes to email marketing effectiveness. Personally I like text emails, but due to the past blog posts, I?m slowly thinking about migrating to HTML emails. Lot of perks here.