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A Pro’s Tips for Creating Great Emails


Ryan Hickling, Head of Email at TMW agency, recently shared his secrets to creating stellar emails to our friends over at the Internet Advertising Bureau UK.

Heed them and you’re guaranteed to send your open and click rates through the roof!

One question I’m often asked is, “How can I make my emails stand out from the crowd” and “What are the latest cool / sexy techniques that I can build into my email campaigns?”

From an implementation point of view there’s a huge variety of different methods you can use to engage your audience and I’ll briefly cover off a couple of ideas under Cool Functionality below.

However, people continually overlook the basics of great email content like those seen within the Copy and Design sections in this post.

Regardless of the type of email campaign or subject matter, you need to be thinking of the following when going into the design and copywriting phase of your email build.

Here are a couple of basic tips to help you get started:


  • Make sure your “email from” name is instantly recognisable.
  • Keep your headline consistent with your subject line.
  • Make sure you can see your headline when images are turned off by using live text and avoiding images where possible. (Especially important on mobile.)
  • Make it clear why you are sending the email especially if users are not expecting it.
  • Keep copy as concise as possible. Your average consumer is very unlikely to sit and read your perfectly crafted paragraphs for anything more than several seconds.
  • Identify key benefits or features and (where possible) back them up with facts, figures, or social testimonials.


  • Make sure your primary call to action stands out above all else.
  • Ensure your branding is consistent throughout the email and is easily recognisable.
  • Utilise the space at the top of the email efficiently by using pre-header text.
  • All content should be arranged in such a way that makes it easy for users to scan from section to section and find what they are interested in.
  • Highlight links and keywords within your copy using colour, font size, and emphasis.
  • Make sure any linked images have a clear call to action.


Some techniques that are particularly interesting at the moment relate to dynamically changing content within an email. This can be based on real time user interaction as well as existing knowledge you hold on each individual.

  • Real-time A/B testing of design and image elements.

This works in much the same way as standard A/B testing, except rather than broadcasting test batches prior to the main send, it happens in real time and automatically swaps users over onto a winning variant.

  • Dynamically-generated image content based on user profile data.

This could be as simple as embedding someone’s names into an image or as complex as switching what’s displayed based on previous purchase history. Anything you know about the recipient can be used for creative effect.

  • Live social media content.

You could be holding an event for a product launch and have a social media campaign running with a Twitter hashtag in use. Why not include a live stream of that hashtag within your email campaigns done by generating images on the fly?

All of the above can be achieved simply by utilising a service that generates images every time a user loads them within your campaign. Talk to your email service provider or do a quick Google search for “email dynamic images” for more information.

These are just a couple of the ways you can make your content more engaging. If you have any examples of “cool / sexy” content yourself feel free to share within the comments or drop me a line on Twitter @hickling.

Always remember to get the basics right first.

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