5 Tactics for Short Emails that Pack a Punch

While some audiences love to receive a long, descriptive email, others might quickly become bored/overwhelmed by messages that contain a mountain of text.

For the subscribers, a short, snappy, attention-grabbing email is both more engaging and more effective. As you deliver content your audience wants, it could also mean higher open & click-through rates for you in the long run.

If you have tried long-form emails and are not seeing results, it may be time to try a short-form email instead.

To help get you started, here are 5 tactics and examples for writing & designing short form emails subscribers will love.

Convey meaning with images instead of copy.

Instead of using words to convey meaning, you could use images to create connection, feeling & meaning. This is an easy way to shorten the length of your message.

In this email from Paypal, they use an image to show one of the advantages of their service & to create emotion:

Subject line: STOP! Do not enter your info repeatedly

Notice how the image demonstrates anadvantage of faster checkout times: more family time. The fall background adds a nice nostalgic touch that could connect with readers.

Challenge: In your next email, try using an image or 2 instead of additional copy to convey meaning, feeling & product/service benefits. The copy you do choose to include should still be concise, meaningful & relevant.

Use powerful words that create mental images.

The secrets to writing a great short-form email is to get your reader to mentally engage with your email immediately. Creating mental imagery is a good way to accomplish this. When your reader starts to picture in their mind what you are writing about, they begin to engage personally with your email in a powerful way. And this could get them to click on your call to action.

In this brief email, Airbnb includes words like “sumo wrestlers,” “up & coming musicians” & “imaginative chefs” to help the reader picture the kind of people they would meet while using their service.

Subject line: Elisabeth, you have an exclusive invite from Airbnb

They chose these words because they make imagery the moment you read them. How could you think of a sumo wrestler without picturing their iconic outfit? A chef without his uniform & bustling kitchen?

These powerful words create the feeling that the reader will be meeting new & exciting city dwellers, which may be a stark contrast compared to their usual travel adventures. Instead of writing that you will “meet new & exciting people” when using the service, they use specific instances to encourage the reader to envision this experience.

Challenge: Experiment with words you would not normally use in your next email, be specific about the benefits a reader would gain. Use words that make mental pictures, and do not be afraid to try ones that are unusual.

Use humor in your content.

Unless you are a history teacher or fanatic, you will probably recall Kevin Hart’s best joke over the year George Washington was born.

Humor connects with people. It sticks in their memory, lightens their mood & often creates a sense of admiration. And best of all, humor can be a powerful way to convey meaning in fewer words & get people to engage with your emails.

Subject line: Announcing our new series—Exploring the magic behind emails

I mean really, who does not sit and wonder at the magic of “David Copperfield, bacon, & ligers”?

Challenge: Use humor in the next email’s content to connect with your subscribers quickly. Your first sentence could be humorous while your second and third could set the context & encourage people to act. By using humor, you could grab your reader’s attention quickly & create positive vibes that encourage them to click. Which means you will need less content later in trying to convince them to act.  Make sure that your humor is relevant to your message and that it will make sense to your unique audience.

Show off your products.

If you have got a great product, let it speak for itself. Instead of writing long descriptions of your products & their benefits, try using images in your emails that will show off your product’s benefits with visuals instead of words.

In the below email, Etsy writes very little – just a subject line & brief sentence about how you could find the perfect gift with Etsy. But they include tons of images of the sellers’ products fitted into categories that will help readers find what they are looking for:

Subject line: The perfect gift does exist

Challenge: If you have pictures of the product, try sending an email to subscribers that include pictures. If you offer a service, try incorporating pictures that demonstrate it in action. For instance, if you are a personal fitness trainer, try including images of you demonstrating a workout routine/guiding clients during a workout. Using pictures can save you from writing a lot of extra content & catch your subscribers’ attention right away.

Evoke the senses with descriptive words.

We experience the world with our 5 senses. So when you incorporate the senses in your emails, you could turn an email into something your reader can feel, smell, see, touch & hear while sitting at their computer hundreds/thousands of miles away. By engaging your subscriber in this way, you could encourage them to act with less written content.

Subject line: The apple of our eye? This special Guest Chef recipe & $30 off!

By using powerful adjectives, the email transports the reader from wherever they’re to a quaint, charming home. Their headline “Cold Nights, Warm Kitchens” allows readers to envision & feel the warmth of a cozy kitchen during winter.

“Crisp apples to sweet butternut squash” helps youimagine the taste of those foods, the background visuals of this tasty produce evokes the sense of sight to bring it together.

Challenge: Create an email that appeals to the senses by using adjectives & imagery in your content. You don’t needa lot of email content if your language could engage people right away, and using the senses is a good way to do this. To see if this encourages subscriber engagement, be sure review your click-through rate to see if it is higher than usual.


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