Tips for Creating Effective Emails

Here are our tips for creating effective emails. Let us help you with your email marketing

Strategize First

  • Identify your audience. Who is this going to and is there a way to target your audience further?
  • Have a clear call to action.
  • Plan all related communication material from the beginning.
  • Build your webpages first.

Content Tips

  • Subject: This should be descriptive but concise and highlight the most likely draw of the email. Here is some good advice on writing captivating subject lines. Subject lines should never be repeated, the email may cache in inboxes.
  • Preheader: This is the text that comes after the subject line when an email is viewed in your inbox. It should be used in conjunction with the subject to entice the reader to open the email. Try not to make it too lengthy or include critical information, this text will only appear in inbox previews.
  • Content: Event emails should include the event’s title, date, time, and location. If there is a lot of information (speaker bios, long schedules, etc.), this should be on the event webpage.
  • Call to Action: With the exception of newsletters, each email should have one clear call to action.

Think Web Before Email

  • Build your webpages before you think about your email. Robust, up-to-date, detailed webpages are crucial, invite interaction, and help you collect information about your visitors from the start.
  • Make sure your webpages is completely up to date and offer as much additional information as is available, such as schedules, presenters’ bios, and links to more information about your department and programs.
  • Make sure that, from the start, your webpages include online registration or a way for people to request more information. Engage people on their first visit or they will not return for a second.
  • Make sure your event is on the University event calendar ahead of time.
  • Do you have a PDF you need to include? Try repurposing that content on a web page instead. PDFs are a major web accessibility issue and email attachments are not permitted through most email service providers as they can be seen as spam. If your content must be in PDF format, it must be accessible. Limit PDFs to items that necessitate printing (like forms, tickets, or maps) and make them available only through your webpage, never as an email attachment.

Think Mobile

  • The majority of your recipients read their email on a mobile device, so in addition to previewing your email on a desktop, preview it on a mobile device. 
  • Avoid the word “click.” Mobile visitors don’t click. Embed your links in text. For example, you can use “Get more Information” or “Register online” as links.
  • If you direct someone to a form from an email, make sure that they can complete the form using a mobile device.

Create Good Email Content

  • Create your email knowing what your visitor will find on the website. The email should never include all the information. It should give recipients the crucial highlights and entice them to learn more online.
  • Event emails should include the event’s title, date, time, and location. If there is a lot of information (speaker bios, long schedules, etc.), this should be on the event webpage.
  • Personalize the email. Making an email personal requires more than inserting the recipient’s name into the text. The more relevant and targeted the content is to the recipient, the more personal it feels.
  • Keep the text short and simple. Paragraphs should be no more than three or four lines, and the entire email should be less than 300 words.
  • Make sure the five Ws (Who? What? Where? When? Why?) are clearly addressed.
  • Have a clear call to action that drives recipients to your website to get complete details, to register, or to respond.
  • Avoid using the word "here" as your link. For example "To learn more about us go to our website here." should be "Visit our website to learn more."
  • A single call to action is best in an email on a single topic. In a newsletter, one call to action per entry or story is best. Too many links in an email may confuse your readers. Send them to one webpage per topic or story, a page where they can find all the possible options to explore, register, or support your efforts.

Don’t Look Like Spam

Use Images—But Use Them Carefully

  • Emails with engaging images are more likely to be opened and read. But use images carefully; some email providers do not allow images, and screen readers for the visually impaired cannot interpret them.
  • Don’t design and send your entire message as an image or graphic file.
  • Don’t display important text in an image or graphic.
  • Include an ALT tag on your images, which will provide the content in an alternative text-based format when needed.
  • Include a text version. The option to “view in browser” does not work on some devices, like Apple Watch.
  • Header images should be horizontal, they look best both on mobile and desktop.

Use Effective Subjects, From Lines, and Preheaders

  • The subject line of your email is crucial to open rates and often determines whether or not your message is read. It should be descriptive but concise (maximum of 35 characters) and highlight the most likely draw of the email. 
  • Don’t try to trick the recipient with a subject line that does not accurately reflect the content of the message; this only encourages people to unsubscribe from emails.The text in the from line identifying the sender should be a maximum of 25 characters.
  • The preheader is the text that comes after the subject line when an email is viewed in your inbox. It should be used in conjunction with the subject to entice the reader to click and can be up to 85 characters.
  • Either the subject or the sender name should include the name Fordham; a specific college, school, or center; a person’s name that will be recognized by recipients; or another word that helps recipients identify the sender and why they should open the email.
  • For internal email campaigns, only the offices of the president, the provost, or University events and stewardship may use the phrases “University Event” or “Fordham Event” in the from or subject line.

Move Beyond Event Email Invitations

  • Good email campaigns start with an overall strategy that identifies all communication you will have with your constituents (including any related print materials) for the duration of the marketing campaign for an event, initiative, or project.
  • Don't just focus on those who haven’t registered. Stay in touch with those who have registered to build excitement about the event. You can also enlist their help with spreading the word to their friends.
  • Engage your audience throughout the year with follow-up news and information that is targeted to them and their interests.
  • Good email campaigns integrate nicely with the many other ways to promote news and events. Post on event calendars, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and news and event features on, send updates through e-newsletters, etc. Make sure all posts send people to the webpages you have prepared specifically for the event or program you are promoting.

Additional Resources