Anatomy of an Email: Best Practices to Help You Increase Engagement


06 Dec Anatomy of an Email: Best Practices to Help You Increase Engagement

It’s no secret: cold outreach campaigns can be difficult. Many agents are constantly trying to improve efforts in order to generate more leads. Thinking about the smaller steps during the cold contact process, such as the structure of your emails, may help you craft a message that better engages your prospects.

At their core, every email is comprised of two main elements: a subject line and body text. Each of these points gives customers a choice of whether to continue or toss the message into their spam folder. Luckily, social scientists have done a number of studies that identify biases with which prospects engage with cold outreach emails.

When it comes to subject lines, research shows that it is best to leverage the “Principle of Scarcity”. Because humans instinctively put a value on what is limited, stressing exclusivity or urgency can dramatically increase the chance of your email being opened. For example, subject lines using the word ‘exclusive’ have an 18 percent higher open rate and email only offers are 14 percent higher.

For some ideas, Outboundengine pulled data from 2015 and found that these five subject lines got the most opens for insurance agents:

  1. When did you last check your insurance policy?
  2. How to Create a Living Will
  3. Extra Cost or Necessary Protection? The Lowdown on Rental Car Insurance
  4. Is your backyard home to an “attractive nuisance”?
  5. How Using a Backup Camera Makes You a Safer Driver


When it comes to creating body text that keeps your target audience engaged, it’s best to apply the principles of Availability Bias, which is our natural tendency to adjust our perspectives based on how easily we can recall an instance. This bias can be leveraged in a number of ways. By prompting your reader to recall a time when a friend was out of work due to an injury, it will trigger the availability bias and they’ll find it more likely that the same could happen to them.

Now that you’ve crafted a message with an attention-grabbing subject line and engaging body text, when do you send it?

Research done by email marketing experts at MailChimp shows a few answers to that question. Taking the aggregate of all their customers, MailChimp found that emails sent on weekdays are far more likely to be opened. When broken down by hours in the day, the study finds a fairly even spread of opportune times, with 10 AM seeing slightly higher open rates.

The truth, however, is that these high-level observations don’t apply to everyone equally, which brings us to our next point: the importance of A/B testing. Segmenting your email lists and applying different subject lines and content variants to find an optimal combination is the only way of identifying the best practices for you.

There’s no “quick fix” to cold outreach, but dedication to the process will always help you become a better lead generator.

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