Creating Email-Opening Worthy Content

Writing content for email is vastly different than writing content for other medias, such as your blog or social networks — and it should be treated that way. Discover new ways to improve your email content.

Creating content seems easy. But creating valuable content that’s worth a spot in your emails? Now that’s a different story… Yet it doesn’t have to be.

Writing content for email is vastly different than writing content for other publication channels, such as your blog or social networks — and it should be treated that way.

To ensure your emails are filled to the brim with content that produces results, here are some tips to help you get started:

Exclusive Content

When the first customer-facing email was created, its purpose wasn’t to send content that people had previously heard or read. Instead, the intent was to open a new line of communication to keep prospects regularly engaged and prevent them from turning into stale leads. Although email today is often used by brands as a promotional tool peppered with “marketing-ese,” breaking this habit is crucial to creating emails that your subscribers actually find interesting.

While your content should accurately reflect your brand, it should be something your audience looks forward to when checking their inbox. Consider offering “insider” tips, ideas, and curated news that are relevant to your business. Keep it casual, concise, and as selfless as possible.

And unless you’re teasing content to encourage email subscriptions, keep the content off of your website and social media. By presenting content your readers can’t get anywhere else, they’ll be more likely to open your emails.

For example, if you run a dog grooming business, exclusive content might include a list of preferred dog shampoos and why you recommend them, tips for getting an anxious pet to calm down during bathtime, how-to guides for preventing hair mats, etc. Curated content might feature the latest releases of your favorite products, sales on grooming equipment at local pet stores, and more.

TIP: By making your business a must-have resource, your value will be irreplaceable. The goal is to attract new customers by providing valuable content, not just stuffing a newsletter with things YOU want to say.


Visuals are a pretty big deal, and they can be extremely effective in capturing your audience’s attention and sparking interest in ways that text alone cannot. Why? People only remember 20 percent of what they read, but they remember 80 percent of what they see. We also process images 60,000 times faster than text.

If you’re a power-mom who loves blogging about recipes and children’s fashion, colorful imagery can help bring your ideas to life and inspire your readers to take action. A recipe for butternut squash and goat cheese pasta may sound okay, but it’s the delicious photo that’s going to cause stomachs to grumble and influence your readers to make it later for dinner — and then snap a pic of it to spark envy among friends.

TIP: Whether you use a graphic designer to create high quality visuals or you take advantage of AWeber’s free stock image gallery, including those elements can help nurture subscriber loyalty.

Great Subject Lines

There are a number of things we do to present ourselves in the best way possible when making a first impression, whether it’s combing our hair or choosing the right words to say. Well, your email subject lines should be getting the same treatment, too.

As the first piece of content readers see from you, your subject lines should be carefully constructed to make a good impression. Keep them short but relevant to the content in your email. They should also be inviting so your readers will be encouraged to interact with your message. Some of the best subject lines include how-to statements, numbers, direct statements, and/or personalization, such as these:

what's next in b2b marketing

Asking a question is a great way to approach your subject line. This one in particular works so well because it addresses a strong concern of every subscriber to this email list: How should we prepare for the future of B2B marketing? By sparking curiosity and supplying an answer in your email, readers will be sure to click through.

homemade juice

This subject line works well because it’s actionable (“quench”) and concisely tells the reader exactly what the email is all about.

Bad headlines on the other hand, look a lot like this (so avoid these!):


Refinery29 may create good email content, but this subject line tells subscribers little about why they should open this email. So the company’s own shopping addiction got worse? That means nothing to the readers. Instead of focusing on your own brand, tell your audience why they should become addicted to your products/services.

pumpkin spice

Pumpkin spice and concerts go together like…Well, nobody is really sure, to be honest. Sure, the seasonal topic is timely, but we don’t need to pumpkin spice all the things. If you want to jump on the now-trending bandwagon, make sure it’s also relevant to the content in your email.

TIP: Subject line split tests can be a great way to see what messaging works best with your subscriber list. Even if your email message is valuable, the content can’t do its job if no one gets past the subject line.

User-Generated Content

Sometimes, the best content isn’t anything you’ve created on your own. Rather, it’s the type of content created by your customers — a.k.a. user-generated content (UGC). From Facebook to Yelp!, there are a number of places where consumers come together to share their experiences with businesses all over the world. So why not make use of these powerful communities to unearth helpful content for your emails?

An owner of a local bakery, for example, might want to feature their most shared items on Pinterest or even reviews from Facebook followers who raved about a new cake flavor.

When prospective consumers can identify with the real people interacting with and benefiting from your business, they’ll be more encouraged to do so as well.

TIP: Testimonials can be an important part of user-generated content that adds credibility and value to your emails. Think about using quotes and ideas from customers that can help your subscribers, not just flaunt how amazing you are!

Irresistible Offers

According to a study from Blue Kangaroo, seven out of ten people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week. In addition to using coupons as a way to incentivize people to sign up for your emails, they can be leveraged for encouraging them to open emails on a regular basis.

Just make sure the offer is valuable to them. Exclusive discount codes or coupons are always a win, but consider offering something they wouldn’t be able to get from a competitor in the Sunday paper, such as a helpful how-to guide or a top secret ‘never been shared before’ recipe.

TIP: In addition to coupons and discounts, offer your subscribers sneak peeks to new products or services, exclusive chances to pre-order sure-to-sell-out items, or have a “last call” clearance sale available only to them!

Still Not Sure? Just Ask

If you don’t know what kind of content is valuable to your audience, why not ask them? All it takes is a brief email survey that invites feedback on information they’d like to receive from you in the future. Once you have that information, you’ll be ready to create amazing email-opening worthy content.

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  1. Phil Golding

    10/9/2014 10:19 pm

    What are some of the Irresistible offers you have seen that work the best? We have multiple clients and they are always looking for great ideas.

  2. Monica Montesa

    10/10/2014 8:05 am

    Hi Phil,

    While certain offers work might work better in one industry over another, you want to focus on what the business’s specific audience wants from them. Discounts and coupons typically generate the most interest. If your client is in the consulting or coaching business, they may want to try offering a free consultation or a free eBook (if available). Sharing “behind-the-scenes” information (e.g. a craft store might distribute a how-to guide for creating a popular holiday item) also provides valuable, exclusive information that they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

    Hope this helps! -Monica

  3. Joelle

    10/12/2014 5:59 am

    What a great article, I personally really struggle with this, especially creating a good subject line! Thank you for this!!


  4. Marcelo C

    10/14/2014 10:42 am

    Monica Great Article !

    Thanks for your tips…i think are better than de “gurus” says, and FREE for us.

    Im starting with your ideas on my pyme, im have a pastas factory (raviolis, gnoquis, etc) on Uruguay and try build a list with my costumers. (now im using email marketing only for internet marketing business)

    Tell u the news on few months…

    Thanks Again !!!

    PD: Sorry if my english is a little bad 🙂

  5. Monica Montesa

    10/14/2014 3:22 pm

    Glad you enjoyed the article, Marcelo. I look forward to hearing about how you’ve built your list!

    – Monica

  6. Sergio Felix

    10/14/2014 11:40 pm

    Fantastic tips Monica!

    I actually went away a little bit from doing free email marketing to focus on my paying clients (my list of customers) but now you made me remember why I should focus more on the free subscribers as well and how to make them more interested in my emails.

    Thanks a lot for the reminder, going to come up with a few things on this next weekend! 😉

    Sergio Felix