How to write an email that won’t be sent directly to the trash folder

I’m sure you knew already, but in case you didn’t, I tell you that email marketing is one of the most powerful tools that exist to sell anything.

It’s incredible that something that was created more than 20 years ago is still that effective.

According to Campaign Monitor research, in 2016 the ROI for every dollar spent in email campaigns was 44 USD, compared with 38$ in 2015.

Email marketing on mobiles continue to grow, reaching 68% open rate in 2016 compared with 21% in 2012.

If you are able to write compelling emails that receivers will choose to open and read you have a lot of chances that they will trust you and eventually buy from you.

But you really need to make sure you are not a pain in the neck and know how to present your sales pitch at the correct moment.

The problem with many emails nowadays is that they are scruffy templates with repetitive subjects containing the same pushy and sheer marketing techniques.

You really need to be creative and know your audience very well in order not to annoy them and send them away.

After all, we receive tons of emails each day. According to Statista, the number of sent and received e-mails per day worldwide in 2017 was roughly 269 billion.

This figure is expected to increase to over 333 billion daily emails in 2022.

Every single day.

Now, it’s very easy to unsubscribe from a mailing list and you can be sure that people who unsubscribe won’t come back.

You want them to stay and form part of your community.

So let’s see a few tips on how to avoid writing emails that will automatically end up in the spam inbox or multiply spider webs in the unread inbox.


1.    Yes, you guessed it. The subject


You have to look at an email like at a book. If the title is crap you will never make the effort to read it, right?

So an email is the same.

Avoid worn-out titles like:

What they don’t want you to know about…

This is amazing. Have you read yet about…

And other similar titles. They have been really used too often.

Think about what can generate curiosity on the reader.

Let’s see an example:

It’s time to rethink Black Friday

According to Sumo, this subject had a 57% open rate. That’s an amazing performance.

Pick a fad like Black Friday and give a hint on what the reader will find in the email. This title creates a certain curiosity and doesn’t contain worn-out expressions.

Try to be original and provoke the urge to find out more.

We don’t recommend to start a sentence on the subject and finish it in the body of the email. This can annoy people since it doesn’t respect the audience.

If you want to invite your mailing list to read your content you can add the word NEW on the subject to promote that freshly published blog post.

Don’t use it all the time because then it loses its attraction powers.

Sit and think about the best possible title for the content of the email and try different formats: questions, X number of tips/reasons, NEW, etc. and test which ones work better.

You might take into consideration adding emojis (apparently they increase the open rate) and numbers.

Some statistics have proven that the use of certain words on the email subject decreases the open rate. Some examples are luxury, free, help, last chance, $$$, etc.

Basically, in order to know which words you shouldn’t use, take a look at your spam inbox and avoid using the kind of words you’ll find there.

Last thing regarding email subjects, try not to be repetitive.

Use different formats and test what works better.

Who said writing emails was easy?

It isn’t but if you don’t try you won’t see any benefits either.

Take a look at this infographic with dos and don’ts when writing a good email marketing:

2. Don’t include a lot of links


Apparently this is one of the reasons certain emails end up in the spam folder.

Google gets suspicious since emails containing many links look like spam.

Make sure you include only one link or a maximum of two, so you make sure your email will go to the general inbox and therefore will have more options to be opened and read.


3. Write an intro giving a background of why they should care


The intro of your email is as important as the subject. Once the receiver opens the email she will read the first two sentences and decide within a second if she will continue reading or will just delete it.

Therefore you have about two lines to tell her why she should care about what is written in that email.

You have to convey what kind of benefit she might take away when reading the whole text.

You might give some hints on the kind of problem you can solve or about the important information she should know about a certain subject.

Let’s see some examples:

This email arrived in my inbox. First of all, I must say that I’m a person who hardly ever buys clothes online because I still like to touch the items and try them on in the store.

Yet with this email I took the bait.

And I’ll tell you why.

The subject line said, “Which of these models do you want at 70% for Black Friday?”

Normally I wouldn’t have opened an email like that, firstly because I’m not a Black Friday fan and secondly because I don’t buy much online.

But the fact that I was given the choice among several models made me curious. I said to myself, well, I’m just going to look at which model I like best.


The email is in Dutch because I live in Holland.

I clicked on it. On the black dress of course, the others are awful!

This is definitely a very smart marketing technique.

Choose a little game or ask a question that the recipient has to answer in order to get him or her involved.

We all like to play and feel that we are the ones deciding.

Let’s see now a different example with a good opening.

PayPal uses a very common situation in everyone’s life. You go out to have dinner with your friends and the bill arrives.

It’s always a pain to split it so PayPal is telling us that there’s a very easy way to deal with this awkward situation.

It’s a short and crisp email straight to the point and gives the reader a clear call to action.

This is a short email that doesn’t need a lot of explanation since PayPal is a very well-known brand.

But let’s see in the next point how you can make the receiver keep reading when we need to write a longer email.

4. Add curiosity seeds to your text


Whenever you need to write longer texts, you need to make sure the receiver reads the whole email. And you can do this by adding curiosity seeds.

Each sentence has to be the anticipation of the next one so the receiver reads up to the end where your CTA is.

Curiosity seeds is a concept introduced by the famous copywriter Joseph Sugarman.

He would very often end a paragraph with one of these transitional sentences in order to retain the reader’s attention:

  • Let me explain why
  • And now comes the best part
  • Not only that
  • What’s more
  • Even more importantly


These transitional phrases push the reader to keep reading in order to know more.

Photo by: Eric Skiff

5. Break your text in small chunks


I mean, let’s be honest, an email shouldn’t look like a chapter in a Tolstoy novel.

If you write long paragraphs with lots of commas readers will feel weighed down and probably delete the email before they finished reading the first two sentences.

Break the text in small chunks, 2 sentences maximum per paragraph.

You can use photos to make the email more attractive to the eye but if you do so, take in consideration those readers with images disabled.

For these cases, you need to make sure that the text is still readable and that it doesn’t look too scruffy.

6. Add an attractive CTA


If you have made it and the reader has arrived to the end, make sure he doesn’t leave without taking that action you have thought of before sitting down to write your email.

Make sure there is always something for the reader when they click on it.

Stick to your promise, if you tell them they will find a free e-book about marketing tips, make sure that’s what they find when clicking on the link.

I like InVision CTAs because they are always different, like in this example.



We are all very busy and don’t have time to read every single email we receive in our inboxes.

So when writing emails to your list of recipients make sure you are being helpful and go straight to the point. Tell them clearly what’s the purpose of your email and what kind of benefit they will obtain with it.

And if it is an informative email, just give valuable information they can take away with them.

As always be honest and stick to what you promise.

Mastering the art of writing emails is not an easy task, you need to observe what experts are doing, study the emails you receive in your inbox every day and decide which ones you like and why.

Also observe what kind of words they avoid and what kind of subjects they use.

And then practice!

If you need help writing your sequence of emails I will definitely have some ideas.

Just enter your name and email address on the box here below and I will contact you shortly.

Let’s begin a valuable conversation with your mailing list.

Featured image: Kai Schreiber

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