Emails Falling Flat? 5 Steps to Make Your Email Marketing Resonate

March 24, 2016 | Elizabeth Wellington

5 Steps to Make Your Email Marketing Resonate_0.png

You just wrote a magnetic email subject line. What do you do next? 

As important as it is to capture the audience’s attention, your subject line is an empty promise unless you provide value. Marketers build trust when they send resonant copy that offers solutions to real problems — something no number of enticing subject lines can achieve.

In your next campaign, relate to your audience with empathy, solve their problems with foresight, and reveal the benefit of that next point of action. 

Here’s how to do that and more with resonant email marketing:

We’ll go through 5 different steps to understanding what makes strong email copy so your readers feel a genuine connection.

1. Emails That Resonate With Readers 

Email is more personal than social media — it builds one-to-one relationships rather than networks. If you use behavioral data and feedback from interactive content to discern your audience’s pain points, you set the groundwork for a real relationship. 

Since 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact, you need to focus on building a consistent dialogue with your copy that speaks to their needs. Mine your data for information on your prospects’ feelings, language, tone, and preferences. Your job as a marketer is to resonate with their characteristics in your writing: 


Describe how your audience feels about their pain points. Are they angry, disappointed, or frustrated? Speak to their needs, and more importantly, recognize the emotions at play. By mirroring their feelings, you can create copy that rings true. 

Language and Tone

How does your audience talk? To resonate, you want to sound like them. If you’re writing to an audience of high-level executives, use formal language. Building a relationship requires that you echo the voice and tone of your buyer personas. 


What does your audience want? Assess their interests and hone in on content that would help them achieve their goals. When you develop copy, pin it to their buyer preferences. 

By adjusting to your audience, you resonate with them as human beings. Beth Hadin explains the effect of this kind of resonance on buyer relationships. 

“Content that resonates with readers makes them nod their heads and say, “Yes!” When your prospect agrees with you, it builds their loyalty and passion for you and your material, and creates a perfect buying environment when you’re ready to make an offer.”

2. Ideal Email Length 

Most readers spend between 15 to 20 seconds reading an email before they move on. To take advantage of that small sliver of time, edit your copy into a compelling and clear email. MailChimp recommends paring down your messages to their bare bones, until you can’t delete any more — the value you’re providing to your audience should be the only thing left. 

Of course, the ideal email length depends on your goal. If you’re sharing a discount or asking for feedback on a survey, go short. Incorporate interactive elements such as quizzes, which add engagement without length, or link to other supporting content such as blog posts and longform e-books. 

If you want to offer depth — like Jay Acunzo on his personal blog — fear not! Long emails can resonate with readers, too. You just need to know your audience: do they want in-depth thought leadership and insights into your field? Marketers who include full blog posts in their emails would also benefit from this gut check: 1600 words perform best. No matter the length, every word should offer something relevant to the audience. 

3. Action-Oriented CTAs 

Every word of your CTA should bring value to your reader. As Campaign Monitor summed up,“Whether or not it is explicitly stated, it should be clear to the subscriber exactly what they get for investing their time in your email and landing page.” 

Avoid passive language that fails to incentivize prospects and lacks clarity. Instead of “click here,” write “take this quiz” or “see your results.” Align one or two CTAs with the goal of your email — too many CTAs split your email reader’s attention in multiple directions, muddling their options. When Whirpool cut their CTA’s from four to one per email, they experienced a 42% increase in clicks

Because you’re limiting your email to include only one or two CTAs, use buttons. They bring attention to the point of action and stand apart from other links in your email. If you’re not sure if the button is big enough, squint at your screen. If you can’t read the words, choose bigger font. 

4. Clear Design and Formatting

If copy brings resonance to your marketing, clear design and thoughtful formatting brings structure to the dialogue.

Take note: People prefer short paragraphs, brief sentences, and clear delineation between different sections. Use larger font sizes for headlines and secondary headlines, breaking up your content for an easy-to-read experience.

Instead of reinventing your email format every time you send an email, build or purchase a template you can adapt to your needs. Most email providers offer responsive HTML templates or themes that adjust to a wide range of mobile devices. Look for a hefty proportion of white space to balance any images and offset the tendency to clutter pages — apply hints of contrasting colors for your CTA button. 

Even if you embrace HTML — as many top marketers do — make sure you offer plain text alternatives. Hubspotactually found that using plain text emails increased their open rates. Because so much of our personal emails are sent in plain text, they are easy for us to absorb and can feel more human than their super-designed counterparts. Plain text emails that nurture prospects through the sales funnel, for example, can give leads the impression they’re developing a relationship with a sales person.

5 Steps to Make Your Email Marketing Resonate-2.png

Image Source: GetResponse

Regardless of whether you prefer HTML or plain-text emails, always test your marketing emails before sending them out to a list of leads. Small errors are the fastest way to break trust with prospects. 

5. Personalization and Impact 

Personalization creates genuine pathways between you and your audience, adding specificity to your interactions. When it comes to copy and CTAs, adapt your goals and language to fit the needs of your leads.

Personalized CTAs, for example, convert 42% better than untargeted or generic calls-to-action. Segment according to demographics, behavioral data, or in the case of a B2B audience, job description.

With most email providers and inbound marketing software — MailChimp, Emma, Campaign Monitor, and HubSpot — you can customize language to speak to leads based on their needs and where they are on the buyer’s journey.

This extra step means you can tighten your copy and simplify your message without limiting your impact. In other words, you can be brief by only share information relevant to each specific buyer. When Paper Style personalized their email marketing campaign, they experienced a 224% increase in open rates and a 161% increase in their click-through rates. 

You can also give an extra level of resonance to your campaign by attributing your email to a real human being at your company. This adds a layer of personalization and can make a strong impact when nurturing a relationship. Attribute transactional emails such as “you left this in your shopping cart” to a company, as it’s hard to imagine they’re from an individual. 

5 Steps to Make Your Email Marketing Resonate-3.png


Make a Conversation

Resonant email marketing copy is the equivalent of a long-standing coffee date with an industry contact. It’s personal, real, and delivers resources and referrals to you every week. When you imagine your marketing campaign through that lens, you set a foundation for an active sales funnel and powerful brand loyalty. 

Any time you create content that is more participative and action-oriented, you optimize your screen time with your audience. Interactive content is a powerful tool for email campaigns, but can also be used across all your touchpoints to better gain and score leads. 

Learn more on how interactive content drives lead engagement with our interactive infographic!


Don't get left out. Subscribe to our blog and always be in the know.

Fresh Off The Press

Don't get left out. Subscribe to our blog and always be in the know.