A badly-written email is about as effective as a love letter addressed “To whom it may concern.” Don’t waste your time writing them.

There are some basics to writing emails, some simple rules that you can follow to maximize the chances that your email will be opened, clicked, and ultimately convert.

A good open rate is regarded as anything above 20%, depending on your content. Open rate is a crapshoot at best. It relies on a mail client preloading a single-pixel gif, which varies depending on everything from the mail client, to whether you’re in the address, to the browser that Gmail is loaded in. With most modern email clients giving a generous preview, it often means that an email can be read without being “opened”, regardless of how you even track opens. Like I said, a crapshoot.


You can achieve a good open rate at any list size. If anything, the larger your list grows, the more likely it is that people are opening, unless you’re scamming people into subscribing. So, in this regard, if your open rate takes a nosedive it should be cause for concern, and not simply something that happens as you expand.

Readers slip away over time

However, reader fatigue, like activity churn, is a reality of growing a list of subscribers. Someone who hung on your every word 6 months ago might feel, 24 mails later, that you’re repetitive, or losing touch. The email marketer’s equivalent of the sophomore slump. There is no easy way to combat this, the tactic is “Stay Relevant”, but there’s no quick hack for that, no matter how often people try.

Some tactics will improve your open rate. Subject line and from field are your best weapons here. Barack Obama’s campaign team achieved some stunning results with subject lines such as “Today’s decision”, “I wanted you to be the first to know”, and perhaps his best, a simple personal “Hey”. Other quick hacks include things like interesting characters in the subject line, changing sender for emails to break from monotony, or tweaking time of sending. But remember, over time all marketing strategies result in shitty click-through rates, at first they work, then they don’t.