5 Words of Wisdom for Writing Better Emails

At Agile, we’ve created, programmed, deployed, and measured lots of emails. And by lots, we mean millions.

We do it for a reason. Our data tells us that 41 percent of educators value email for communicating with education vendors about products and services. Clearly, educators are willing to listen to what you have to say in your messages, so make sure you say it well. Here are 5 pieces of advice for writing more effective emails.

1. Write like you’ve got something to share, not sell. Gain educators’ trust, especially early in the sales cycle, by offering information of value. Focus less on what you’re trying to get educators to buy, and more on the useful, educational information that’s relevant to those products and services.

When it comes time to shift focus from sharing to selling, typically later in the sales cycle, zero in on the details that educators find most valuable. The top three among administrators and teachers are key benefits, cost and evidence of success.


2. Quick and clear beats clever and catchy 9 times out of 10. Let this be your mantra when writing emails: Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it straightforward. Educators receive lots of emails every day — most as many as 20 — but don’t dedicate much time to reading them. We’ve learned that educators spend an average of 14 – 20 minutes reading emails daily, reserving only seconds for individual messages.


Get their attention in those precious moments with a little bit of impactful copy that says a lot. Your email is the vehicle for driving educators to your site. All you need in your message is copy that grabs their attention, tells them how to learn more and directs them to a landing page that elaborates on your email. Teachers are actually more likely to click through an email when it contains fewer words, according to data from Sprint Education. In fact, Sprint saw the highest click-through rates from emails with only 50 – 99 words!

3. Personalize or perish. You’re a vegetarian, but your grocer keeps sending you emails about great deals at the meat counter. It’s like they don’t know you at all, right? A middle school ELA teacher is probably going to feel the same way about receiving emails about a high school math product.

Educators will appreciate your emails more, and be more willing to act on them, if it’s clear that you understand the needs and challenges they face in their specific roles. Providing this kind of personalized information can create a domino effect for sales and marketing: it can breed trust, which often leads to loyalty, which can positively impact response and ROI.

Personalization is possible at a number of levels:

  • Beginner: Use pronouns that directly address the reader, such as “you” and “your.” Also send emails from an individual. Include a personalized signature with a small headshot, if possible, and include that person’s name in the From line of the message.
  • Intermediate: The right tools, like marketing automation, can help you make personalization even deeper. Create multiple versions of the same message with tweaks to better suit certain educator groups. Segment your lists by education demographics, and then personalize the copy for grade levels, geographic locations, job titles, ELL population, Title I standing, and more.
  • Pro: You can also dive into deep performance data, personalizing emails for schools with certain proficiency levels and test scores.

4. Design while you write. Most writers aren’t designers, and vice versa. But it’s important to balance your left and right brain when writing email copy. As you write, think about how the designer might “chunk up” your message.

Most people never read “above the scroll” of an email. Grab their attention with a powerful headline, maybe a short paragraph with more detail, and a call to action (CTA). All of this should be visible when the educator opens the message.

For those readers who are interested, but not quite enticed to click, write a deeper description farther down the email. Even though this information is more in-depth, it should still be quick. Write short, two- or three-sentence paragraphs or use bulleted lists. Don’t forget to repeat your CTA. You can do it one or two more times in this section.

5. Dedicate as much time to writing your subject line as you do to writing the email. Convince & Convert reports that 33 percent of email recipients choose to open a message based on the subject line alone — making the subject line the most important element of your email.

Even though subject lines should be short (50 characters, 5 – 8 words max), they are deserving of extra writing time. Here are some tips we recommend for crafting a compelling subject line:

  • Make it actionable. Front-load the subject line with action verbs that make educators want to, well, act.
  • Give them a reason to act. Explain the value of what educators will find inside the email if they click.
  • Never be misleading. Misleading subject lines violate CAN-SPAM.
  • Use power words to improve open rates. Starting your subject line with the word “Invitation” can increase open rates by 9.45 percent. It’s true, according to Campaign Monitor in its list of power words.
  • Use your preheader to elaborate, not repeat. Think of it this way: If your subject line is the headline, then your preheader is the subhead.
  • Focus on the issues educators care about. When we asked which factors prompt educators to open emails, they said: It addresses a specific need or issue I’m grappling with and promises information or advice I’d like to learn. How are educators going to know this information is inside if the subject line doesn’t hint at it?

Subject lines are so important, we’ve dedicated entire articles to helping you write them. Improve open rates with advice found here and here.

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Get additional content tips and more in our free guide to Email Marketing Best Practices.

About the Author

Suzanne Morgan is a Senior Account Manager at Agile Education Marketing. She has more than 15 years of experience in the education marketing industry, specifically in the areas of database services, account management and client services management. She marries her deep understanding of data and the education market to help clients better understand and utilize data to achieve marketing and sales objectives. Reach Suzanne at [email protected].

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