How to Treat Your Email List with Care

Ten paragraphs.

Yes, I counted!


At least two paragraphs were hiding essential deadlines, but the info was two or three scrolls into the email (I almost missed them and I was sitting there trying to find them!)

I had just started working at the college and was looking through our Constant Contact campaigns. Every week, an email went out to students with important information, but almost every email had too many words, no visuals, and zero headlines.

My first order of business? Increase those open rates and click-through-rates.

How? One word: Empathy.

If you open an email and see 6 bulky paragraphs, what do you do?

Do you roll your eyes? Skim? Hit delete?

No matter how you respond, it's a good indication of how the real-life-PEOPLE behind their screen will respond to your emails, too.

So hop on into your readers' shoes and start treating them the way you want to be treated.

Here's how:

1. Respect your audience’s time

If you ask me, text length is a matter of respect. Everyone is busy and overwhelmed (now more than ev—nope not gonna say it.). Your audience is a collection of actual humans with a million other things buzzing around in their minds.

A multi-paragraph email—especially one without a story—is not respecting anyone's time. Instead, it's putting yourself and your message before your audience's needs.

Treating your audience with care means making your email copy as readable and skimmable as possible.

There are a bunch of ways you can break up your text. Make skimming easier by:

  • Using headlines.

  • Being strategic with bold text.

  • Incorporating bullet points or numbered lists

  • Adding in photos and images

Turns out, the shorter and sweeter, the better. Emails with the highest response rates range from 50 to 125 words long. So cut out those extra words.

2. Pay attention to your inbox

We check our email so often, it’s gotten to the point we’re on autopilot.

Delete, open, read,


Oh, them again? Delete.

What’s the difference between the emails you read, skim, and delete?

  • Are there some subject lines that grab your attention more than others?

  • Does the format play a role in whether you read or not?

  • Which emails do you delete right away?

Starting this week, take an extra second to notice how you feel about the emails you receive. What can you apply to your own email campaigns?

3. Picture your friends.

Instead of thinking of your email list as a bunch of random strangers or future clients to impress, picture every sign up as a friend (or potential friend).

Would you write 7 paragraphs about your company’s mission and history if you were writing to a friend? Is that what they signed up for?

Think about it: your readers liked something you said enough to give you their contact information. They trusted you to pop into their inbox with the same tone they see on your social or blogs. They don't want to hear corporate-speak.

They want to hear more from you.

Take a little pressure off yourself to sound “smart” or “capable”—or like someone who has everything put together all the time. You’re not a walking advertisement. You’re human.

Being yourself will help you connect with your audience on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Keep it simple

When I took over those weekly emails at the college, I knew I had to keep things simple. I remembered what it was like to be a stressed out, burnt out college student, and I didn't want to complicate things or make things harder for our students.

Next time you're about to hit send, think about how you'd feel if your email popped up in your inbox. Then, edit down accordingly :)


Be the first to join my email list?

I’ve never had an email list of my own, but I've gotten a couple of requests. So maybe I’ll start now? Why not???

Join my awkward introvert internet party over here. You probably won't hear from me for another month or so (unless I find some confidence on tomorrow's lunchtime walk... Doubtful).