Crafting Powerful Marketing Emails

You want to get your emails opened, read, and in some cases, replied to. There’s a lot to consider when writing marketing emails on behalf of Michigan Technological University—here are 22 tips for maximizing impact:


1. Identify your goal. Is it to strengthen brand? Build loyalty? Achieve a conversion? Then think about tactics (emotional, persuasive).

2. Choose a structure—The 3-Ws (what, so what, now what?), PSB: Problem, Solution, Benefit, etc.

3. Break it up—Three is the magic number; an opener, the meat, and a closer.

4. Develop a persona and imagine you are writing the email to a real person. Go beyond name, age, gender identity, and education to think about what they eat, watch, or do for fun.

5. Ask questions—If you were having a conversation with an actual person, you’d ask questions, right?

6. Tell an interesting story or analogy connecting with Michigan Tech’s brand platform (real people, real experiences, real opportunities).

7. Use our honest tone of voice.

8. Answer “why?” It’s tempting to begin with “what,” but challenge yourself to answer “why.” Why should your audience be interested in what you have to say?

9. Save the best for last, or in this case, the hardest for last. Deciding on the perfect subject line can be tough. Not too cute. Not too clever. Not too long. What, then? Your subject line has two objectives—to get Michigan Tech’s brand in front of your audience and to get the email opened.

10. Considering as many as 60 percent of your audience may choose to open your email on their handheld device, it is prudent to count subject line characters (or emojis!).

11. Make it personal—Subject lines with the user’s name or location have higher open rates.

12. Use numbers—It can help your message stand out as users scan their inbox. Write 85, for example, instead of eighty-five.

13. Close your email with a call to action (CTA). The shorter, the better—five to six words max. Example: “Apply Now” is preferred to “Apply for the Create Your Success Scholarship by November 26.”

14. If you can help it, avoid multiple calls to action. Give only one to make it quick and easy.

15. Use the PS—Don’t be afraid to repeat information or deadlines—chances are, people need it!

16. Keep it above the fold. Readers don’t want to scroll to the end of an email to find the call to action. 

17. Don’t hide your CTA in a wall of text. A separate line or graphical element is more effective. (Make button text large so it pops.)

18. Establish urgency: Limited-time.  Today only.  Limited quantities available.

19. Analyze emails you love—As brands send YOU emails, study them. What made you open? Did you click a link? Did you respond? How did you feel? Were you on your desktop? Phone? Inventory your own habits, and learn and borrow tactics that work for our brand (nothing wrong with that!).

20. Certain times of the day, week, or month could yield higher open and click rates. For example, Michigan Tech Admissions has found that Mondays and Tuesdays are optimal days to send Search campaign emails. Listen to your data and draw conclusions.

21. Test. Send the same email body with two different subject lines. Which performed better?

22. Segment. Create targeted copy variations for each of your unique audiences—the message can be the subtly different, but the results dramatically more effective.   


Jenn Biekkola, Director of Annual Giving
Shannon Rinkinen, Brand Manager