Really Good Emails” is a repository of emails. Some of them are very good.

Their job is to find all the awesome emails, then put them in collections, organize and critique them.

After seeing thousands of emails, and after being asked a lot: “What makes a really good email?”, they came up with the guidelines.

The full article has a lot of examples, along with full descriptions of what makes these particular emails great. I’ll focus on the guidelines and will include two examples. For much more, see the full article (link at the bottom).

What Makes A Really Good Email?

  • The email connects visual design with a good simple hierarchy.
  • The content serves the customer more than the company.
  • There is consistency across branding, website and app experience. (The website and email look and feel the same)
  • The campaign utilizes best-in-class technology (Brands should be pushing the envelope and trying new things in the inbox).
  • It’s enjoyable because it surprises and delights (Take the extra step. Even a boring transactional email can be fun to receive).
  • The email is likely to perform well (Based on what we know about email marketing).
  • It balances live text and imagery (All image emails in 2018 are no no’s).
  • It is accessible across devices and screens (Looks good on everything. and can be used by everyone).

There’s so much you can improve in your emails.

If you think it’s just a bunch of text and a few images, here are some (not all) of the elements you can work on:

  • Subject Line
  • Pre-header text
  • Email Layout Patterns
  • Images
  • Typography
  • Whitespace
  • Mobile Optimization
  • CTA Design
  • Text CTA Ratio
  • Video
  • Animated GIFs (Does it add value)
  • Interactivity (An action taken in an email that triggers an event within the same email)
  • Personalization
  • Voice & Tone
  • Footer Finish
  • Legal

Example #1: Blue Apron


This email basically is trying to get a subscriber to sign up for their service and give some money off to incite the purchase.

They group the different sections effectively. They show the main offer and how their service works. Great hierarchy. First the main thing. Then the other things. Then the last things. That’s all the things. Done.

Nice use of urgency. Including the “24 hours” expiration. Pushes people to make the purchase. Wonder if that offer really disappears?

Actionable CTA backs up the main copy. Instead of “START NOW”, there’s a very clear “GET $40 OFF”. Consistent CTA hitting home that this is a deal.

Not bad for a footer. Matching social icons and useful links at the bottom. Notice how the nav is at the bottom and not at the top? Let’s keep it that way. Get right to the offer.


  • Use an offer with clear copy and supporting CTA.
  • Include tasty imagery to show your product in action.
  • Create your own icons for an associated action instead of counting. Iconography and steps clearly show how the product works and what will happen next.
  • Bottom navigation lets the offer be the main focus. If people need the links, they will look for them.
  • Social icons that match your branding or the rest of the email is a nice touch.
  • Include a link to download your app if you have one.

Example #2: Lyft


Look at all of this great personalization! Location and the season. Impressive!

This email is to activate the account. Showing local popular destinations and the compared prices make this one a no-brainer.

Overall this email has great hierarchy and branding. It also uses a custom web-font. This font is used across all of Lyft emails.

Nice referral module with social and email sharing. Easy to include this in every templated email you are sending out.

The “2/4” at the bottom shows how many emails I can expect to get in this onboarding sequence.


  • Deeply personalized emails go farther than just FNAME.
  • Email should match website and app experience. It should be familiar but still take advantage of the platform.
  • Utilize custom iconography if it adds to the message.
  • Use sequence indicators to let your customers know that they can expect future campaigns.
  • Include a standardized module to promote referral sharing.

What Makes A Really Good Email?

PS. My emails don’t use your first name. But they are personal nonetheless. If you decide to reply to any of my emails, with a question or comment, I will always write you back.
So thanks for reading! I appreciate it.