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The Secret to Writing Great Emails

whisper secret, girls whispering, secret to great emails

Email has been proven to be one of the most powerful channels in any given marketing mix. From opt-in newsletters to Gmail ads, you’re guaranteed to receive some form of promotional email from brands you love or companies you know. If you’re not already utilizing email marketing and communications for your marketplace, then you absolutely should!

How do you know if you’ve come across a great email? An effective email gives its recipients a distinct reminder of your brand, delivers the intended message, capture the reader's attention and compels you to click! That can be done through an appealing subject line, great design, and a well thought-out message. Often, the best inspiration for great emails can come from another amazing newsletter that you’ve received.

Arcadier draws from best practices and great examples of email campaigns from Mailchimp, Hubspot, and other leading content marketers to reveal the secret to writing great emails:

Types of emails

There are several types of emails you’re likely to send to your marketplace users:

·         Automated welcome and transactional emails

·         Product and feature announcements/updates

·         Regular newsletters containing articles and tips

·         Event invitations

For each of them, you should have a structure or a standardized template, and a unified voice that aligns with all your brand communications. Each type of email is likely to have different audiences, so you must adjust your tone accordingly. For example, the readers of your regular newsletters are most probably your loyal followers. It’s okay to use a more friendly and informal tone with them. On the other hand, automated compliance emails should have a more serious and straightforward tone.

Mailchimp has created a great guide on voice and tone that’s categorized by different content types. Be sure to check it out here.

Photo credit: Terrain.

Subject line

The best email subject lines provoke the recipient’s interest — enough to actually open the email. To do this, you must keep your subject line descriptive, creative, and informative without giving too much away. The general rule here is to tell—not sell—what's inside.

According to Hubspot, 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone. Here are some tricks to help your email stand out in a crowded inbox:

1. Be concise. Consider recipients who might be reading the email subject line on mobile. If you’re having trouble shortening the subject line, remove irrelevant words like “update” and “newsletter”.

2. Use emojis. Not only can emojis help you set the tone of your email, a pop of color in a sea of black and white letters can really draw attention.

3. Personalize. According to the 2014 Science of Email Marketing report, “emails that included the first name of the recipient in their subject line had higher clickthrough rates than emails that did not.” Personalization can also be based on location.

4. Make it action-oriented. When you encourage the reader to take action, it makes the content of the email sound a lot more enticing.

Photo credit: HubSpot.

5. Make it exclusive. Subject lines that are phrased as a special gift, offer or invitation also makes the email sound more personal.

6. Create a sense of urgency. Subjects with a deadline and time limit like “don’t miss our 24-hour sale” or “today only” will prompt your recipients to click now instead of later.

7. Ask an interesting question. If you understand your customers well, you’ll know what they care about and what questions they want answered. Appeal to their curiosity!

8. Use humor. When your email has brightened someone else’s day, you know you’re doing something right. Don’t be afraid to use puns and slip in a joke every once in a while.


Plain text e-mails can be effective, especially when delivering a technical message that needs no frills. For other email types, you can let your creativity flow. Use your brand colors to reinforce your marketplace image and beautiful images to captivate your audience. You can see plenty of great examples here.

Photo credit: Hubspot.


Once you’ve gotten someone to open the email, you have less than 10 seconds to engage the reader. Make sure paragraphs are not too wordy and use only high quality images. GIFs can also do the trick; Mailchimp now allows you to search and add GIFs from GIPHY. Once you’re done crafting the main message, don’t forget to preview and check all the links.

Other than that, here are other content components that you must have in the body:


The top line of your campaign appears under each subject line in the inbox. This additional bit of information can be the deciding factor when a reader is deciding whether or not to open the email.

Call to action

What do you want the readers to do once they’ve read your email? This next step is what we know as call to action. Offer a clear direction to close your message, whether it’s to buy a product, share a blog post, or take a survey. The call to action is usually in the form of a button that links to a blog post, event registration, or signup page. PayPal does a great job of it here:

Photo credit: Hubspot.


All campaigns should comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. Footers are where you would include a permission reminder with an unsubscribe link, and your mailing address and contact information.

Take cues from the best

You need to be subscribed to an email list to find exemplary email campaigns. Follow your favorite brands and other companies whose product offerings are similar to your marketplace’s. Save your favorite subject lines and content, and take note of what you like so you can apply it to your marketplace’s emails.

Marketplaces with offerings that span diverse categories can also try segmenting the audience. That way, the message is tailored to each group and can be adjusted accordingly.

Another thing you should keep an eye out for is timing and frequency. Most companies send out an email once or twice a week. You can also use the time of day and day of the week to your advantage when crafting messages. The right subject line coupled with the right timing can make a huge difference in the open and clickthrough rate.

Although these best practices are a great place to start, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. You still have to figure out what works best for your own audience or community. This can be done by A/B testing your subject lines, images, or wordings. Try a couple of different variations eg. long and short subject lines, or with and without emojis or GIFs.

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