Get Through & Get READ! Our 7-step framework for creating marketing emails people actually open, read and like!


Whether you like it or not, email marketing is still the number one marketing channel. But, as email fatigue increases and attention spans continue to plummet, how do you cut through the flood of promotional emails cluttering inboxes? Here's a look at the framework we developed over the last year and a half (and some 1,202 email campaigns later!).


After a lot of email campaigns (326 to be precise over the last year alone) and a lot of analysis, we identified the seven components that were common to our most successful campaigns. What do we mean by "successful campaigns"?

Yes, they're the ones with the highest open, click-through and conversion rates. But they're also the ones where we've had people proactively get in touch with us to thank us for sending them (!!!) because they found the campaign inspiring, valuable or simply because it made them smile. People contacting us to thank us for sending them a marketing email? It does happen. And that's pretty much the ultimate success metric as far as we're concerned!


So... Sometimes The Best Cats Can Gyrate Excitedly! We came up with this simple and very random mnemonic to help keep us focused on the seven key elements we identified that make for successful campaigns. Have we lost it? Probably. Does it work? Most of the time!

[1] S

Is the email SCANNABLE? - If you weren’t reading any copy or text, would the key message(s) be effectively relayed by glancing at section headers, images & bolded text? 

[2] T

Have you woven in TOPICAL elements? -  This can range from topical references to news, events or other 'recognisable & relevant' events going on in the world (Brexit, Valentines Day, etc.), or topical to the user by being PAIN-POINT driven (ie. lack of time, Senior leadership buy-in, etc.)?

[3] B

Is the marketing of any product features BENEFITS-LED? - Vs. Features-led. Spend time truly understanding how your product helps solve your customers' problems, then SPELL IT OUT. 

[4&5] CC

Is the tone of the email CONVERSATIONAL and CONSPIRATORIAL? - Vs. overly formal, and littered with internal or industry jargon? Does it feel like you're on the recipient’s side and “in-it-together”? The tone of your copy will vary from product and industry - but keeping things easy to read & digest (conversational) and truly understanding what makes your readers tick (or shudder!) will mean a conspiratorial tone follows naturally. 

[6] G

Is the tone and content of the email GENEROUS? ie. Are you giving away genuinely valuable free content and insights (note genuinely valuable, the last thing we all need is more content and more clutter)? Same applies to discounts and promotions - be generous, it'll pay off.  

[7] E

Is the concept, content and copy of your campaign EXCITING? This is the trickiest one to get right, and you can't really fake it or force it (genuinely nothing worse - #cringe).  The times we've got it right, its been on campaigns we've genuinely had fun creating. From concept to copy, we've been excited about it...and that translates.


Broadly, we send 5 types of emails. I've split these out below. See if you can spot any Cats Gyrating Excitedly as you skim through them. And be gentle - whilst they may not be perfect, a marketer or two most likely aged a few years racing against the clock trying to get these right (and out!).

1) TOPICAL/HUMOR-DRIVEN: These are emails centred around TOPICAL issues and PAIN-POINTS using a CONVERSATIONAL and CONSPIRATORIAL tone. They generally weave in playful gifs or images. 

Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit C, Exhibit D, Exhibit E


2) PURELY VISUAL: These are emails are highly VISUAL and SCANNABLE, conveying the core message primarily through imagery. [Sidenote: you need a killer design team to execute these - kudos to ours - they rock.]

Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit C, Exhibit D


3) FEATURE ANNOUNCEMENT EMAILS: These are highly VISUAL, easily SCANNABLE and introduce the new feature via BENEFITS-LED messaging. 

Exhibit A


4) SAMPLE CONTENT-LED CAMPAIGNS: These are highly GENEROUS through the sharing of exclusive content (that could be a webinar, a sample of exclusive TW:Premium content, etc.) 

Exhibit AExhibit B


5) URGENCY-BASED CAMPAIGNS: These are focused on building urgency through the use of BENEFITS-LED messaging, positioned in an easily SCANNABLE and VISUAL way, all the while using a CONVERSATIONAL tone :) 

Exhibit AExhibit B, Exhibit C



Seriously, some people are awesome. Instead of cursing us for clogging up their inbox with yet another promotional email, every now and again we get a thumbs up. Yes, we know its just an email campaign and not a public service announcement. But us marketers obsess over these mailshots - so when we get a thank you instead of an unsubscribe, that sure as hell makes it worth it ;)

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Marina and the marketing team at TrendWatching help make sure our free Monthly Trend Briefings reach the 250K+ subscribers who read them each month, get the word out about TrendWatching's online trend intelligence platform, TW:Premium, and help get bums on seats across TrendWatching's global Trend Event series.