3 Steps to Writing Emails That Actually Convert

People tell us all the time they can’t get their emails to convert.

While some lists may actually be lower performing, because they weren't targeted properly or you haven't emailed them in a while, the vast majority of lists will be responsive to your emails, if you follow this simple three-step process.

Capture Your Audience’s Attention

In order to send an email that converts, even to the coldest of lists, the very first thing that we need to do is actually capture the attention of the people that we are sending the emails to.

 There are two important places where we need to capture and retain our audiences' attention.

Subject Line

The first place we need to capture their attention, is with the subject line of the email. After all if we don't get enough of their attention for them to open the email no matter what else we do our email is ineffective.

 There are three simple ways to grab your audience's attention when you're creating a subject line.

Ask A Question 

The first way to capture an audience's attention using the subject line is by simply using the subject to ask a question. 

When we do this, our brains want to know the answer, meaning everyone in our audience is more likely to open our email because they want to know the answer as well. 

For example, if we had an article about Tips for bass fishing,  we could use a subject line like “ 4 great tips for your next fishing Adventure”.

While that may be exactly what the article we’re trying to get them to read is called, it's not something that's going to grab somebody's attention unless they're already looking for 4 tips.

Instead, we could use a subject like” are you using these tips to catch bigger Bass?”  

Using this style of a headline, where we turn the subject into a question is going to create more engagement because we're creating a little bit of curiosity as to what's actually inside of the email.  

While the person we are emailing may be an expert fisherman and ignore the email about the four tips, because they assume it's the same as all of the other articles they were right about tips, by adding a question to the subject line they themselves begin to question if they're also using the tips were talking about.

Leave an Open Loop

If you’ve ever watched a good TV show oh, you've seen open Loops in action. 

At the end of every episode, something new happens that makes you want to come back and watch the next one, leaving you waiting for more.

 The same thing applies with email subject lines; we can use something like a trailing statement, where we end the subject line with an ellipses ( normally seen as a series of three periods).

 Additionally we could do this by using a headline that piques interest but doesn't give much information, like “ you'll never believe this trick”  or “ my coffee with the cops”.

 Both of these methods leave our brains wanting more and knowing that all we have to do to get more information is open the email, we're going to do it.

Create a Controversy

The third way that we can capture our audience's attention with email subject lines is by creating controversy.

Taking a stance in your subject line causes people on both sides of your opinion to want to open the email, either to see your reason for your stance or to back up their opinion that they share with you.

 A great example of this, would be a subject line like ” the reason why vegans are completely wrong about meat”.

Using this as a subject line, would make big fans of meat ( like those on the growing in popularity carnivore diet)  to open the email to justify their existing opinion. 

 Vegans on the other hand are also going to open the email, because they want to see what's so wrong with me that I could possibly think they're wrong about meat.

Using a controversy as your subject line, can be for lack of a better word controversial.

While it does Boost open rates and is a great way to start to capture attention, be warned that you will have a handful of people reading your emails that don't actually read what you have to say on the inside and assume you're the worst person on the planet based on the controversy you created with your headline

Opening Paragraph

Unfortunately in this modern era with an attention span somewhere between eight and 12 seconds,  getting someone to open an email is only the first step in actually getting their attention.

Once they open the email, we need to get their attention again in the first paragraph in order for them to read what we have to tell them and make it to the next two steps.

 Thankfully, we can use some of the same tactics that we used in the initial subject line and hook them into reading further.

 Using the question method for the open loop method works really well here.

 In this example, you can see that I'm using a question in order to get the person to continue to read.

We could just as easily use the open loop method in this same email .

For example, we may change from the question to saying something like ”  I found the craziest method you've ever seen to spot the biggest fish”.

Once we've inserted one of these two methods into the opening paragraph We need to move on to connecting with the reader and calling to action

Connect With Your Reader

If we're trying to create emails that convert, probably the single most important thing that we can do is to make sure that we're creating a connection with our audience.

Fortunately, this is actually really easy to do.

The best way to go about creating a connection is simply to write the email the same way you would if you were giving me information to a friend. 

It's actually a very simple way to create emails and it's one of the most effective.

 Even while doing that, there's two things that we want to make sure to include.

Showing Your Personality:

One of the single best things that you can do to improve how well you connect with your readers ( and how well your emails convert)  is by simply showing off your personality.

Showing your personality in your emails doesn't have to be a big thing, it can be as simple as including a joke or talking about your favorite sports team something like that.

For example in case you haven't noticed, I'm a very sarcastic person I like to include a lot of jokes and the things that I do and I can be a Little Bit Sassy from time to time, all of my friends know this and would expect to see that in an email or a text message from me.

 If I'm going to write an email to send to my audience, I'm going to do it exactly the same way as if I were to send it to my best friend.

I'm still going to include a joke or two about what's going on and maybe an over-the-top obviously sarcastic statement about my opinion on the matter.

They also know that my grammar is not going to be perfect. I occasionally misspell a word and as long as what I'm telling them is understood, both of those things are forgivable.

 Doing this, shows that there's a real person reading the email and is automatically noticed by your audience and creates a much deeper connection overtime. 

It also has the added benefit of pushing away people who might not like your  personality and that's actually okay too.

This leads to more opens and interactions with the emails that you send, meaning they will convert better.

Tell a Story:

Telling a story is a great way to create connection with your audience ( it also happens to have the side benefit of showing a little of your personality, which never hurts).

The story can be as simple as sharing how you found or why created the piece of content that you're sharing or it can  a little more profound and showcase a bit more of your actual personality.

 For example if we are sharing an article about tips for a first-time fisherman, we could share a little bit of the story about the first time we went fishing with our grandfather  and how that changed and impacted our life forever. 

You don't have to be long and detailed; it could be something as simple as mentioning remembering the feeling you had when your grandfather showed up at your house with your Spider-Man fishing rod in hand.

it's not only connects the audience with you by showcasing your personality a little, but it forces them to remember the first time they went fishing or when their grandfather showed up with something that they really wanted.  This starts to create a great emotional connection, between you and the audience.

Call Them To Action

The third and final thing we need to do in order to create emails that actually convert, is to include a call to action.

 That's right, we have to actually tell people what we want them to do or they won't know. Unfortunately the people reading our emails aren't all psychic.

 I know it sounds silly to say, but this is one of the single biggest things that I see missing when people say that their emails don't work.

 Thankfully, this is a very easy problem to fix. 

What Do You Want Them To Do:

Before we can give our audience a call to action, we have to know what we want them to do.

 Meaning, what is the next action we want them to take after they've started reading the email, do we want them to read a blog post, go to a product page, or watch a silly YouTube video?

It doesn't really matter what we want them to do as long as we know while we're  writing the email and we can make sure that we've asked them to do it, before we send the email.

Before you actually sit down to write the email, jot down on a notepad The Next Step you want your audience to take and glanced at it as you are actually writing.

Choose a CTA Type 

Out of all of the different kinds of emails that we can send, there are really only three types of calls to action that can be included.


The content call to action is going to be the bread-and-butter of the emails that you sent to your audience. 

These are the most simple to write and all we're trying to get the audience to do is read the blog post or visit the YouTube video that we're talking about inside of the email.


Promotional calls to action, exactly like they sound,  are going to be used when we want our customers to buy something from us or when we want them to complete some other kind of transaction, like subscribing to our YouTube channel or sharing our content on a social media Network.

People tend to shy away from writing these kinds of emails, because we're actually asking our audience to do something for us, but they're  probably the most important part of the call-to-action mix, because they're the ones that are responsible for keeping our business thriving.


Hybrid call to actions includes both content and promotional call to actions inside of the same email.

For example we could share a piece of content and give people a call to action to visit the blog post.  Then, in the p s section we could let them know about a sale we have going on Amazon.

Hybrid calls to  action are extremely powerful, because they don't feel like promotional calls to action ( because of the value that we're getting our audience  through the content) and they have a much higher chance of bringing in money to the business, than a content email, because we’re actually offering something the audience can buy.

Wrapping Up

 If you've been struggling to create emails that convert, reviewing your emails and implementing these three simple steps into your writing process, we'll go a very long way to massively increasing the number of people that not only open your emails but also actually execute on your calls-to-action.

If you've been struggling to write emails and really want to nail the call to action and connection pieces of this process, you may want to check this article out here (and yes…..that IS an example of a call to action!).

What's the single biggest problem you’ve had with email marketing? Let us know in the comments below.

And remember, as always we're here for you, we believe in you, but you have to take action..

Chris lives at the intersection of business strategy and growth tactics. Having consulted with dozens of different businesses (as well as building several of his own), he brings a unique perspective on what's working across the eCommerce world in businesses of all shapes and sizes.

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