University of Wisconsin–Madison

Creating engaging email content

4 minutes to read | Last updated January 6, 2021

Consider these tips when you want to create emails that are engaging, usable, and accessible.

Offer value or benefit

An effective email will communicate some sort of value to the recipient in the subject line and in each call to action you are providing. There should be a good reason for all of the content in your email. Just because you need to communicate something doesn’t mean that it is valuable to the reader. You need to let your readers know how your information benefits them.

Be honest

One of the worst things you can do is deceive your email recipients. Don’t promise something in your subject line that you can’t deliver in the email. It’s important that your subject line is relevant to the content of your email.

Be credible

Nothing will harm your credibility more than spelling and grammar mistakes in your email subject lines and content. Mistakes like this will make your email appear spam like and could even be flagged as spam.

Subject lines

Short, clear, and concise

Subject lines should tell people what they need to know in as few words as possible. There is no secret code to this because the subject line should be unique to your email. Overloading users with excessive text increases the chances that information will be misinterpreted. How to write shorter copy.

Suggested subject line approaches

These can be effective methods in crafting subject lines. Use your best judgement in making sure they don’t become spammy, or unintentionally turn into a hard sell. 

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More engagement best practices

Use preview text

Preview text is part of the inbox display and gives you the opportunity to include a few more details beyond the subject line.  Use it to promote another aspect of the email that is of benefit to the user.  Examples of preview text.

“From Name” sometimes called “From Line”

Customize it. Change it from time to time to add interest to your email.

Say thank you

Use your manners because it’s polite to say thanks if your user just read your content. 

A/B test subject lines

Whenever possible. It will help you craft better subject lines in the long run. For future reference, it’s better to have a system in place before A/B testing.