13 Email Content Creation Best Practices

November 07, 2022
Written by
Jesse Sumrak
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own
Reviewed by
Ayanna Julien
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

13 Email Content Creation Best Practices

Great emails share a lot in common. Each element builds off the others, and it takes a cohesive effort to make something truly special.

Think about it.

Your email content must be creative and visually appealing to maintain audience retention, and your calls to action (CTAs) must be top notch to spark engagement. However, nobody will ever see your designs or cleverly crafted CTAs if they don't open the emails first—that means nailing your subject line and preheader text as well.

With so many components to consider, it can be a bit overwhelming to consistently deliver first-class email campaigns. We get it. At Twilio SendGrid, we eat and breathe email but still must keep in mind email content creation best practices every time we whip up a message.

Below, we've compiled all our tips and know-how to help you create amazing campaigns. Every. Single. Send. Follow these best practices to see everything from your open rates to your bottom line go up and to the right.

Why does following best practices matter?

So why does following email content best practices even matter? Doesn't it seem a bit tedious to reference a checklist of best practices every time you create an email campaign?

While getting all the nitty-gritty details will certainly add time to your content creation process, we believe it's a nonnegotiable part of crafting emails. Here's why:
  • Consistency is key: Consistent on-brand experiences are what your customers expect. If your email content creation process appears scattered, elements will slip through the cracks that make every email different from the last—and not in a good way.
  • Mistakes break trust: Best practices ensure you take care of every step in the email creation process, helping you avoid costly accidents and errors.
  • Success becomes replicable: Consistent processes let you deliver emails with controls in place. Once you know the controls, you can tweak different elements to see what impacts your engagement rates for better or worse.

13 email content creation best practices

1. Follow a checklist

Ensure you nail every element of your email campaign by following an email marketing checklist. It'll give you step-by-step instructions on taking your email from start to finish. Although fairly obvious, following a detailed checklist will also help you avoid missing any silly mistakes—such as sending to the wrong list or forgetting to update your preheader text.

2. Use templates

Templates can help streamline the email content creation process. So make your life easier by building a reliable list of templates to use for your different email campaigns (e.g., product announcements, event sign-ups, email newsletters, etc.). Check out our free email marketing templates to find the perfect design for your emails. 

3. Make your emails responsive

Customers will open your emails across various clients and devices—so use a responsive design that'll look great wherever they open it. By using a prebuilt responsive template, it makes it easy to swap content in and out without breaking structural code.

4. Personalize every message

When you personalize your emails, you make them more relevant to every recipient. However, this goes beyond just adding their first name: 

5. Keep your emails on-brand

Your emails should be an extension of your brand. So use your brand's logo, colors, illustrations, and voice in your emails to keep everything consistent for your audience. After all, the experience of opening and reading an email should be similar to visiting your website.

6. Align emails with other campaigns

Email shouldn't be a stand-alone marketing channel. So integrate your campaigns across channels for an omnichannel marketing presence. Collaborate across social media, SMS, customer support, web, and paid advertising to keep your messaging and campaigns consistent.

7. Limit your CTAs

Count your CTAs before you send. Because while you might like to give your audience options, it's best to limit your emails to a handful of CTAs (ideally, 1 or 2). Too many buttons will distract your readers and decrease the odds of them taking any action. 

8. Add preheader text

Preheader text (aka email preview text) is probably the most underused piece of email real estate—yet, it's one of the most crucial. Customize it to support your subject line and convince recipients to open your email and take a look inside.

9. Optimize your subject line

Your email subject line is arguably the most important part of your email campaign—make it count. That means crafting and testing your subject line to maximize your open rates. Check out our favorite email subject lines for some inspiration.

10. Make your email accessible

Around 1.3 billion people live with some visual impairment, which makes it crucial that you design emails to be accessible for as many people as possible: 
  • Use colors thoughtfully
  • Include sufficient contrast
  • Add alternative text to images

11. Test before you send

Test your emails to improve the customer experience and avoid adverse outcomes. While it's essential to catch typos and misplaced commas, it's more important to test the following:
  • Spammy language: Find spammy language (like "free" and "$$$"), text-to-image ratios, and outbound links to ensure your message doesn't end up in the spam folder.
  • Link validation: Check the links in your email to ensure these aren't broken, lead to the right destination, and don't direct to domains with poor reputations.
  • Image and format rendering: Test your email to see how the design and images render across inboxes, browsers, applications, and devices.

12. Run A/B tests

Optimize every email by running A/B tests. We recommend testing the following:
  • Content
  • Design
  • Timing
By playing around with your subject lines, you get to see which resonates with your audience. You can also try sending from a different From address to see if a friendly name versus a company brand performs better.

13. Learn from your data

Always analyze your past campaign's metrics before sending them, as this is a critical opportunity to reflect on what worked and what didn't. You might find that your last campaign had atrocious open rates compared to your average, helping inform a change with your subject line or preview text on your next send.

Create better email content with Twilio SendGrid

Want to consistently create top-notch emails that surprise and delight your audience? Give Twilio SendGrid's email editor a try. It comes with the following features to help you nail the email content creation best practices we discussed above:
  • Editor: Design your emails with drag-and-drop widgets, code, or a hybrid.
  • Testing: Run your emails through our built-in test tool to check for spam, broken links, and rendering issues. 
  • Automation: Send the right email to the right person at exactly the right time with easy-to-use automation tools.
  • Statistics: Gather valuable insights from every campaign with granular email performance metrics.
  • Templates: Use our free, responsive email templates to accelerate your content creation process and churn out more consistently great content.
Sign up for a free SendGrid account to see for yourself—no credit card or commitment required.

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