How to Email Better — 9 Tips to Improve Readability, Scannability & Consumability

You’re probably not surprised that “How to Email Better” warrant a whole, dedicated blog post.

I mean, are you a busy person, with basically no time to read dense, mile-long emails? Yeah, me, too.

Yet I *know* we all get these lengthy messages daily. They make me want to tear my hair out sometimes.

I get that storytelling is a powerful approach and that businesses want to build that know-love-trust (KLT) factor. But geez-a-loo — gimme a break!

I’m willing to bet most peeps just don’t have the mental or temporal bandwidth to scroll scroll scroll through — and actually read — this kind of message on the reg. Especially when you’re getting inundated with this sort of thing by multiple senders, often several times a week.

This is really a shame. Because I truly believe that everyone has something valuable to share. It’s sad if that gets lost or thwarted because their email is so bulky or bloated that you practically need to schedule into your calendar to work through them.

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Big, Bad Emails: The Fallout

IMHO, these kinds of emails are unreadable. And often, they are so offensive to my bizcom sensibilities that I don’t even feel compelled to try to read them. (I just don’t wanna!) It’s too much effort to even bother.


Oh, how about things like:

  • Sentences and paragraphs are too long.
  • Fonts are often too small or smooshed.
  • Links don’t work.
  • Images don’t display.
  • Don’t even get me started on the colors and layout! 

Given that my inbox is stuffed with “difficult” to process emails, makes me realize that there are a lot of people out there who still aren’t utilizing best practices for creating easily-scannable, highly-consumable emails.

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Learn how to email like a pro for pro results.

🛑Stop It Right Here Right Now🛑

Here are some simple — but powerful! — tips you can use when writing emails so that they’re more digestible. By this, I mean more readable, scannable, skimmable, internalizable, processable, consumable.

9 Tips to Improve Readability

Try incorporating some of the techniques below next time you’re drafting an email. They’re fast, easy, and insanely actionable.

  1. Provide Value — Focus on delivering content that works towards achieving your goal: to inform, to educate, to entertain, to nurture, etc. Make people want to make the effort to open your emails and dive into the message. Don’t bug them with useless fluff.
  2. Include Only the Necessities — Don’t overload your message with too many details or verbosity. Recently, someone mentioned that the ideal length for emails is under 200 words. As in that’s how much readers will invest themselves in wending their way through your message. Right-size your message to suit its purpose and audience. And on a similar note, only include folks in the email distribution if they need to be there. Yes, it’s a balancing act between giving enough and sharing too much.
  3. Use Descriptive Subject Lines — Start setting expectations of what’s inside. Build excitement and intrigue. I always appreciate it when there are indicators like [Action Required] in the subject if I need to do something based on the message. Emojis are also fair game.
  4. Embrace Lean & Responsive Design — Readers may view your message on any number of devices so your message needs to accommodate various screen sizes and internet/cellular connectivity. Responsive message templates should adjust to fit the computer, phone, tablet, etc. used for checking email. Not bogging your email down with a gazillion images, attachments, etc. should help keep it lightweight and accessible via even the spottiest of cell/wi-fi services. Using purpose-made templates (offered by many/most email marketing and funnel software) can make this a non-effort.
  5. Assume Ignorance — Always include the who, what, where, when, why, and how. You can’t count on your reader having seen any previous messages. So you have to include all the pertinent details in each message — like it’s a stand-alone communication. (This is particularly important for things like events.)
  6. Keep It Short & Chunky — Brief paragraphs. Punchy sentences. Tight bundles of info. Replace words with informative graphics or links to deeper-dive videos, blog posts, or webpages. You aren’t writing an article or old-school letter — it’s OK to have more-but-smaller text blocks. These are easier to absorb at a glance and often flow better on smaller screens.
  7. Format Appropriately — Smart use of bolding, italics, quotes, bullets, numbering, headers, captions, etc. go a long way to guiding your reader through your content and conveying meaning and importance of your message.
  8. Focus on Above the Fold — It’s easy to imagine that your reader might not scroll and will, therefore, only see the top portion of your message. (Unless you really grab their attention and pull them in, in which case they may continue through the rest of your email.) Because of this, putting the main thrust of your message toward the beginning can be a make-it-or-break-it move. Apparently, the average person — due to average reading speeds, attention spans, and site analytics — only takes in the first 30-185ish words on a webpage before deciding whether or not to move on. If extrapolate and apply this concept to your emails — those bits up top are your window of opportunity!
  9. Check/Test Everything — There’s no excuse for broken/misdirected links, images that don’t display, typos, or any other error that you could reasonably catch prior to smashing that Send button. Proofread, spell check, click on links, peer review, do dry-run emails…whatever it takes. The more mistakes there are in a message, the more the reader’s will to engage with you and your email ebbs. Sloppiness makes you look unprofessional, and if you can’t or won’t take care with your communications — why should a reader think you’d take them any more seriously?

Easier To Do Than You Might Think

If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed here, just think of this guideline:

Create the kinds of emails you’d like to receive.

I also like to think of writing and organizing email messages as being like creating a blog post. For example:

  • There’s intent and a logical flow.
  • I use varied but typically shorter sentences and paragraphs with simpler language.
  • Bullet points, lists, bolding, and section headers aid readers’ ability to progress through the content and catch and retain important bits.
  • Calls to action are obvious and easy for readers to perform.

Worth the Effort

Don’t settle for having mediocre email skills.

Fun fact — Following these tactics not only facilitates the readability of your emails, but it can also help increase email deliverability and open/click rates. And, honestly, I get super succinct emails from a few businesses and those messages totally stand out (and I read every single one in its entirety!).

After weaving some of these methods into your repertoire, see if your emails are more readable and engaging. You can do this both via a good ol’ gut check and the cold, hard metrics in your email marketing system.

It’s likely that you’ll need to refine and finesse how you implement these tips. Every biz is different. Each email potentially requires a nuanced approach.

That’s legit. The key is to keep your eyes on the audience and purpose of your email. Why are you reaching out to these people? Is your message fulfilling that need or working toward your goal?

Make Your Emails So People Want to Devour Them

Creating easily readable/scannable emails is essential. If you actually, you know, want your audience to consume and engage with your content.

By following the tips mentioned above, you can craft better emails, leading to increased deliverability, open and click rates, and KLT. Remember to focus on providing value for your designated audience. Start implementing these suggestions today and see the difference it makes in your email efforts over time.

How to Email More Consumable Messages — FAQs

Why is it important for businesses to create emails that are easy to read, scan, and consume?

Customers are constantly bombarded with information. If an email is difficult to read, it’s likely to be deleted or ignored. By creating emails that are visually appealing and understandable, businesses can grab the attention of their customers and increase engagement.

How long should an email be?

When it comes to emailing, it’s important to remember that brevity is key. Keep your message concise and to-the-point. If you find yourself going long, consider sectioning out your text, breaking your message into multiple emails, or picking up the phone or video instead.

What are some things that make email messages hard to read?

Using long, convoluted sentences or industry jargon/technical terms that your reader might not understand can make messages confusing or off-putting. Formatting issues like solid blocks of text or poor use of bullet points or headings can make your message feel overwhelming. Garish or low-contrast colors or distracting images can detract from the quality of your email, too.

How can I write better, more readable email messages?

Be clear and concise. Avoid long paragraphs or confusing sentences. Use bullet points or numbered lists to break up information. And don’t forget to proofread. A well-written email can make all the difference in getting your message across effectively.

How can I write shorter emails that still get all my points across?

Cut out any unnecessary words or phrases. Organize your thoughts beforehand to avoid rambling. Be clear and concise in your language.

1 thought on “How to Email Better — 9 Tips to Improve Readability, Scannability & Consumability”

  1. Pingback: Storytelling Works, But Has It Gone Too Far?

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