Time For Email Critique: Put On Your Reader Hat


Oftentimes, putting yourself in the position of your readers might just be the most effective way to critique your own email messages. The truth of the matter is that there are messages that instantly capture your eyes and those that create an immediate urge to hit the trash button. Nevertheless, it all depends on the type of message you are sending. But no matter how different you think they are from one another, each of the following characteristic plays a deciding role of your final draft.

Easy to read

The interplay of colors, fonts, and images influences your email readability significantly. Use color sensibly to reinforce the content but not to the extent requiring your readers to reach for their sunglasses or magnifiers. The size of your font should not appear as though they are screaming at you. While images help to capture your audience attention, make sure they do not dominate your messages. Just because you can include images to all your offers does not mean you should. Industry study has shown that over 50 percent of sales generated from promotional emails are not originated from items offered in the email. So, your goal of sending emails is to simply flick your readers’ forehead with key offers to see if they remember you. If they do, it is a good sign they know what you provide and will further explore at your web site.

White space

Your readers’ eyes need a break between different sections of your message. This is easily done by inserting physical breaks like divider, small image, or just white space. Done right, each of your section will stand out, making your content easier to read not only visually but also cognitively. According to a study by Human Factors International in 2004, white spaces between paragraphs and around blocks of text increase comprehension by almost 20 percent. So the next time you come across white spaces in your email messages, pause and appreciate the ‘nothing’.


There is no right answer on the ideal length for your email message. The right length depends on a number of factors such as the frequency of your email messages, the type of communication, and the amount of information needed to make a purchase decision. While most schools of thought typically say “the shorter, the better”, that is not to say that every email you send must not exceed 300 words, for example. The bottom line is to be sure that you are not rambling aimlessly in your messages. If you are able to deliver your message in 300 words instead of 600 words, then by all means, keep to 300 words. Yet, there are certain communications like newsletter where it is desirable to have a number of short articles in your email message. Then the best way to it is to use templates. The typical two-column layout for contents or the table of contents block will help your readers to easily find content that interest them.

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