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You spent less time skimming through the last email you opened than watching a television advertisement.

In fact, you probably were able to read two emails in the time it took for that one television ad to go by.

That's why successful emails make it easy to find and understand the information (or the promotional offer) they contain.

Five tactics are particularly useful here: strong headlines, concise bullet points, formatting, and short paragraphs and a clear call to action.

Strong headlines

Why: They attract attention and raise interest. They also give the content a clear structure.

Tips: KISS! Keep it simple and succint.

Bullet points

Why: They break up blocks of text, making the email easy and quick to read.

Tips:

  • Mention key features
  • List benefits
  • Bring up points of information

    Use a 3x4 rule: either 3 points at four words each, or 4 points at 3 words each
    

Formatting

Why: Words highlighted using bold or italics provide anchor points for the reader and draw their eye to the most important information.

Tip: Avoid underlining, as that’s usually associated with links.

Short paragraphs

Why: Breaks up information into bite-size chunks.

Tips: Use short summaries, teasers and question and answer formats in the email to whet your readers' appetite.

Clear call to action

Why: Links to more detailed information that can be found on your website, your Facebook page, a Slideshare presentation or video.

Tips:

  • Keep the call to actions next to relevant text and images, so people can see them easily.
  • Give people a reason to take the desired action. Words like Shop now or Discover the answer normally work better than just Click here, Read more or Link.
  • Test out alternative CTAs. Different words, colors, link button shapes, sizes and positions can all impact the response from readers.