The Snap36 Blog

3 Rules for Creating Attention Grabbing Emails

jack-spadeIf you’re anything like me, you receive anywhere from 50-100 emails a day. As an avid online shopper, a large chunk of these are dedicated to daily digests, deals or promotions from my favorite retailers and brands. I’ve mastered the skill of quickly scanning through preview mode, looking for anything important. It’s like my eyeballs are a form of currency continuously rolling down the page and I’ll pay for the best content with a pause.

This holiday season, when I was on the brink of retail email overload, I began to take notice of what exactly caught my eye—what exactly it was that made emails special and deserving of my time (which I put a very high premium on).

Check out my 3 rules for creating an attention grabbing, look at me now email for your next campaign:


Even more basic than the eyeball skim skill I discussed above, is the instant email notification in the top-right corner of my computer. This is when the subject line is critical because I will ONLY see your subject and I will IMMEDIATELY decided yay or nay. Is your subject line captivating enough to make me stop what I’m doing to check it? Or will it get skimmed with the rest?

Personalize it
The world is overrun with data and email personalization is great way to put it to use. If you’re a retailer that I subscribe to, it’s likely because I’ve made a purchase. If I’ve made a purchase then you know my name and my spending habits. Use it!
Remember the famous words of Dale Carnegie “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Retention Science analyzed 260 million emails, 540 campaigns and found that personalization works. Subject lines with the recipient’s first name had an average open rate of 18.3%, while subject lines without a first name had an average open rate of 15.7%. Above all, be clever and relevant with your personalization – not spammy!

Emphasize exclusivity and scarcity
Remember the last time you felt left out? It wasn’t fun. You’re subject line is a great place to make your customers feel like the’re in a special, exclusive group. Top performing phrases to imply exclusivity:

Members only
Become an insider
Exclusive offer
Only available to subscribers

Remember the last time you loved a product and it was out of stock? That wasn’t fun either. You’re subject line is also a great place to remind your customers of the in-demand products they might miss out on. Top performing phrases to imply scarcity:

Limited offer
Get them while they last
Today only
Only 3 left
Only available here



To me, the preview plane is life changing. And apparently I’m not alone. In his book Youtility, Jay Baer reveled that 84% of people 18-34 are using a preview plane when accessing emails.

The preview pane gives recipients an immediate preview of your email that prioritizes information at the top. The adage, keeping the best content “above the fold” has never been more relevant. But instead of needing to keep pertinent information above the fold on a newspaper, you now need to keep attention grabbing content in the preview pane.

Call them to action
If I read the entire email presented in the preview plane (above the fold) and you never give me the option to move forward, how do you expect me to get to your website? Grab my attention and lead me to your site quickly, because I’m not going to read a 2-page email trying to figure out what you want to sell me.Engage with visuals
Images are the best way to get your products in front of customers. Beyond common sense, there is plenty of research outlining the benefits of informative imagery over informative text.

The psychologist Jerome Bruner of New York University has described studies that show that people only remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but 80% of what they see. Other psychological studies find that the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner that takes more time to process. What does that mean for email? I see the image the first, I understand the image first, and the image is likely to determine if the copy is worth my time.

One way to really captivate and engage your recipients is through the use of animated images like Gifs. Retailers can use Gifs to display products and entice readers.

Check out this example from Ann Taylor:

Email Gif

Shameless plug time: 360° & 3D spin photography make excellent, high-quality Gifs that are not only easy to create from a spinset, but are extremely effective at visually communicating product design and function.



This should come as no surprise, but mobile marketing has taken the world by storm. And just as your website and product pages need to be mobile friendly, so too do your emails. According to a recent report from Movable Ink, 65% of emails are now being accessed via mobile devices in the U.S.

Make it responsive
If you’re not considering how emails look and function on mobile devices then you’re missing about half of your intended audience. Make sure your emails can respond to any device your consumer is using and that it intuitively makes the necessary adjustments to fit screen size.According to Internet Retailer, “footwear retailer Crocs began implementing responsive design e-mails in mid-2013 that change the look of online content to render well on the size of the screen the consumers is using. Smartphone e-mail click-through rates are up 120% year over year during Q4 2014, says Kelsey Vendetti, e-mail marketing manager. E-mail visits from tablets are up 16%, according to data from Custora, its e-mail marketing services vendor, she adds.”Size matters
Brace yourself, your audience won’t read emails they can’t actually read. Constant Contact reported that 75% of nearly 1,500 survey respondents claimed they were “highly likely” to delete an email if it couldn’t be read from their smartphone.Font needs to be large enough to read so the amount of copy should be as concise as possible. Emails should have a minimum 13px font size and even larger for headings and subheadings.Not only can I not read what I cannot see, I cannot click when I cannot touch. On my desktop, I have a cute little mouse that so accurately clicks my desired link. On my phone, I have a chubby finger that’s trying to play whack-a-mole. If your CTA image or link is the most important part of your email (which it should be), then I need to be able to click it.

According to an MIT study, the average finger is roughly 45px by 57px on a cell phone. This means that your CTA should be at least 57px by 57px and clear of any other link that I may accidentally click.

Email is a necessary tool to reach your audience and keep customers engaged with your brand, but it only works if you’re using it right. In today’s world of constant distractions and limited attention, you need to entice your audience with clear, concise copy and engaging visuals that are optimized for any device.

I believe we’re all user experience experts, so do a little investigation of your own. Take a look at the last emails you received from your favorite retailers and brands. What did you ignore? What grabbed your attention? Share your observations in the comments below!

Need help increasing your e-commerce conversion rate? Websites that are using 360 product photography increase conversions by an average of 47%.