You have eight seconds to make your case. How do you grab attention before being swiped left?

1: Get right to the point

Prioritize like a journalist. Your story should be arranged by importance with your most essential content at the top. Yes—the classic inverted pyramid in both word and image hierarchy.

2: Spotlight your star

Like it or not, readers will judge your email by its cover—the hero image/headline. This lead spot should steal the show, drawing people in and encouraging them to linger longer. Focus on the one key message that you need to communicate, being careful not to dilute with multiple objectives. Your visual and headline should be a complementary rather than duplicative duo, with content that’s timely and uniquely relevant to your audience.

3: Answer the basics

Classic storytelling includes the who, what, when, where and why and so should your supporting communication points. At the same time, practice restraint. Your content should be quick, condensed and easy to scan. Too much text can make an email fatiguing.

4: Boost opens with a one-two punch

Your subject line and preheader can make the difference between a delete and an open. Include a call to action or personalize the subject line, and use the preheader to peak curiosity. Keep them short with less than 50 characters for each message.

5: Go easy on the CTAs

Be careful about giving your reader too much to do or they might not do anything. Your email should have a singular purpose. Present a clear path to action and you’ll increase the odds of click-through success.

6: Boost CTR with interactive content

Ask subscribers to answer a question, toggle images or play a game—all without leaving your email. Adding motion and interactive elements can help your message stand out from the other hundred in an inbox.

This email from Tom’s quickly introduces customers to the product.

Embedding video helps increase open rates and CTR.

Movement helps trigger interest and highlight messaging.

7: Don’t overdo the content

Make sure your audience sees your emails the way you want them to be seen—and receive all that you send them. Large images can mean big files that can’t download quickly. Too many images also cause data bloat. Some email clients, like Gmail, clip emails that are too heavy or too long.

8: Have an alt-text plan

Don’t forget alt-text that will display when images don’t. It’s best practice to use live HTML text wherever possible—key messages and CTAs need to get through even when images are turned off by default.

9: Think mobile-first

More than half of your audience will see your email on their mobile device. Make sure the images are legible and content remains scannable so your email is effective. Plenty of space around buttons and links make them easy to click and click-to-call functionality makes contact frictionless.

10: Stay current on technology

Follow web accessibility guidelines to ensure legibility for your entire audience. Plan for addressing Dark Mode, both on desktop and mobile. Use tools like Email On Acid or Litmus to test your emails on a wide variety of devices and applications.

Use effective storytelling and content best practices to improve engagement and build trust. Your email ROI will thank you.