Inside the Inbox email-writing workshop

How to write for your top communication channel

It’s Americans’ No. 1 online activity.1 The top sharing channel in the world.2 The preferred tool for business communications.3

Inside the Inbox email-writing workshop

It’s email. And averaging a 4,300% ROI, according to the Direct Marketing Association, it’s all but certainly your most productive marketing channel, as well.

But the competition for attention in the inbox is fierce. And that return is an opportunity — not a promise.

How, then, can you make the most of your e-zines, newsletters and blast emails?

  • Get Opened: Draw recipients in with “the envelope.”
  • Get Read: Make your message valuable, interesting, easy.
  • Get Clicked: Reach nonreaders with links, display copy.
  • Get Going: Optimize email for mobile.
  • Get Great: Take your email from meh to masterpiece.

Request proposal


“Great step-by-step instructions on how to do it right.”
— Stacy Mayo, assistant account executive, Rhea + Kaiser

Get Opened

Draw them in with ‘the envelope’

You’ve read the numbers:

  • American professionals receive an average of 121 emails a day.4
  • That’s per inbox. Now multiply that by the several personal email accounts people tend to have in addition to a primary work account.5
  • No wonder 68% of those emails aren’t getting opened.6 And an average of 276 emails languish unread in inboxes at any given time.7 That’s an increase of 300% in just four years.

Get Opened: Draw them in with 'the envelope'

So what’s your team to do? In this session, your team will learn how to grab attention in the inbox to get your email opened. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

Because readers open just 32% of their emails.

  • Go beyond the subject line. Make the most of the four key elements recipients consider before deciding whether to open your message — or to delete it without reading further.
  • How long should your subject line really be? 40 characters? 60? 90? More?
  • Don’t forget the most ignored element on your envelope. 24% of recipients check this before opening. Too often, senders forget to write it — or, worse, have never even heard of it.
  • Tap the No. 1 technique for getting opened. Carnegie-Mellon researchers proved it … now it’s up to us to use it.
  • Avoid 3 common subject line approaches that reduce opens. That trick you’re using to draw them in? It may be keeping them out.

Request proposal

Get Read

Make it valuable, interesting, easy

Assuming your audience members do open your message, people spend an average of just 11.1 seconds on each email they review.8 That’s enough time to read about 37 words.

Get Read: Make it valuable, interesting, easy

No wonder the No. 1 piece of advice email readers give email writers is to keep it short.

Because people read, on average, just 37 words of their emails.

But your team is not average — and neither are your messages. In this session, your team members will learn to beat those odds to get your message read. Specifically, you’ll learn to:

  • Solve the Goldilocks Conundrum. Recipients are turned off by e-zines with too much information — and by those that don’t offer enough. So how much is just right?
  • Choose between three “most valuable” e-zine formats. If you’re struggling with opens, click-throughs and unsubscribes, bring one of these formats to the rescue.
  • Tap the No. 1 reason people find newsletters valuable.9 And avoid the No. 1 reason they quit, which is responsible for 67% of unsubscribes.10
  • Decide when to personalize. Yes, slapping a name in the subject line may boost opens. But it can also creep readers out and make them worry about their privacy — unless you also do these two other things.
  • Make it clever … but not too clever. Readers complain when your email isn’t clever, edgy, insightful or witty enough. They also complain if it’s too cutesy. Find the fine line between interesting and silly.

Request proposal

Get Clicked

Reach nonreaders with links, display copy

People skim 69% of their e-zines. They read only 19%. (That’s the good news. On mobile, they skim 74% of their e-newsletters.)

Get Clicked: Reach nonreaders with links, display copy

How do your team members reach the three-quarters of subscribers who don’t read our paragraphs?

Because people skim — they don’t read — 69% of their e-zines.

  • Avoid the worst link problem. It decreases accessibility, reduces scanning and cuts your chance of getting clicked.
  • Pass the Squint Test. Because if your piece looks easier to read, more people will read it.
  • Don’t get your head cut off.What’s the right length for email headlines that don’t get cut off by email apps, social media — or humans?
  • Master email tables of contents: Do you have a TOC? (Do you need one?) How much detail should you provide? Is it mobile-friendly? Run your TOC through our checklist.
  • Sidestep fat-finger syndrome. Can they click? Optimize links and buttons for mobile.

Request proposal

Get Going

Optimize email for mobile

Recipients now read 54% of your emails on a mobile device.11 That makes email the No. 1 mobile activity.

Get Going: Optimize email for mobile

Problem is, mobile reading reduces everything from comprehension to click-throughs:

  • More than half of consumers have unsubscribed from brand emails because they don’t work well on mobile.12 Participants in one study ranked the average e-zine’s mobile usability at 3.3 out of 7 — aka miserable.13
  • People skim instead of reading more often on mobile. People skim e-zines on laptops 69% of the time. But on mobile, they skim instead of reading 74% of the time.14
  • Mobile readers click 40% less often.15 And they click on fewer links than desktop or laptop users.

Because people rank email’s mobile usability 3.3 — aka miserable.

So how does your team reach the huge and growing percentage of our recipients who now read emails on their smartphones?

  • Pass the 1-2-3-4 test to put your message where your subscribers’ eyes are. Tip: Try this simple test on your smartphone for best results.
  • Weed out the top. Are you cramming the top of your message with the three elements mobile readers often skip? If so, you may be burying your important information so deep, nobody ever sees it.
  • How long should your mobile subject line be? Chances are, it’s twice as long as the recommended benchmark.
  • Make it a mullet — and 4 more steps for writing effective mobile headlines.
  • Avoid the Mobile Paradox: The No. 1 activity for mobile users is wasting time. But mobile users get “visibly angry” at verbose e-zines that waste their time. How do you avoid enraging readers?

Request proposal

Get an Email-writing Workout

Take your message from meh to masterpiece

In the crunch of writing headlines and meeting deadlines, it sometimes seems as if there’s not enough time to pause and consider how you’re doing. But in our practice sessions, your team members get a great opportunity for reflection and improvement.

Get an Email-writing Workout: Take your message from meh to masterpiece

Have your team members bring their laptop and an email message to work on. You’ll get a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

Make Ann your personal writing coach.

In these practice sessions, you’ll:

  • Master the techniques you learn in the workshop by applying them immediately. (That’s how we put the “Master” in the Master Class!)
  • Gain valuable insights on your work from your peers and from Ann.
  • Learn to analyze and improve others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for editing others or improving your own work.

Request proposal


“Other writing coaches tell you what to do.
Ann shows you how.”
— Roberta Laughlin, vice president, Mutual Funds Marketing, Northern Trust

About Ann Wylie

Ann Wylie photo

Get the word out Leave with proven-in-the-lab best practices for reaching readers at Ann Wylie’s in-house writing workshops.

Ann Wylie runs a training, editing and consulting firm called Wylie Communications. She works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out.

Her workshops take her from Hollywood to Helsinki. There, she helps training clients at organizations like NASA, Nike and Nokia polish their skills and find new inspiration for their work.

Ann has earned more than 60 awards, including two IABC Gold Quills, for her communications. She is the author of more than a dozen learning tools that help people improve their communication skills, including, a toolbox for writers.

Learn more about Ann

Request proposal

“Ann is brilliant and arms you with the tools to succeed.”
– Katie Anselmo, internal communication manager, Comcast


“I learned more in this two-day class than I did in my two-year master’s program.”
— Rochelle Juette, communications specialist, Washington Closure Hanford

One-day writing workshop

Get your team on the same page with a one-day, 6-hour workshop:

  • Learn tips and techniques for Inside the Inbox email-writing workshop. Includes workbook and handout masters for you to copy. They’ll learn how to:
    • Get Opened: Draw recipients in with “the envelope.”
    • Get Read: Make your message valuable, interesting, easy.
    • Get Clicked: Reach nonreaders with links, display copy.
  • See how your team is doing with customization. I’ll use your team’s writing samples as examples in the workshop.
  • Keep them learning after the workshop ends with a three-month membership to Rev Up Readership for up to 30 members of your team.

Request proposal

Two-day Master Class

Help your team members master the techniques they learn in class with a two-day, 12-hour workshop:

  • Learn additional tips and techniques. The two-day workshop includes additional modules:
    • Get Going: Optimize email for mobile.
    • Get Great: Take your email from meh to masterpiece.
  • Master the techniques they learn in class by applying them immediately, getting feedback from Ann and the group, and rewriting. That’s how we put the Master in Master Class.

Request proposal

Webinar series

Save travel expenses and reach far-flung colleagues with a webinar series:

  • 4-session series covers the one-day workshop material
  • 6-hour session covers the Master Class material, but without the feedback and practice.

Request proposal

Add writing guidelines

Want to get all of your communicators on the same page about what constitutes good writing? When your communicators walk out of our session with customized writing guidelines, you’ll be able to:

  • Tell your communicators what to do with “the book” of proven-in-the-lab best writing practices that I share in my Catch Your Readers workshop
  • Show your communicators how to do it with before-and-after examples of your content providers’ own work to illustrate each best practice
  • Help your communicators sell ideas to reviewers and approvers with brief summaries of the research behind the rules
  • Make it easy for communicators to implement the guidelines with four handy one-page cheat sheets that content providers can use to check their own work or to edit others’

BONUS: As I’ll be rewriting some of your team’s writing samples to illustrate the befores and afters, I’ll be able to show your participants “How Ann would have done it” in class — one of the biggest requests we get in feedback.

Learn more …

Request proposal

Add templates

Ever wish you had annotated models and checklists for writing your online messages? Let us develop formulas, templates and examples to make your online communications more effective and less time-consuming.

Your team will walk away with fill-in-the-blanks outlines they can use to write your most common types of stories, whether they’re tipsheets, survey stories, HR stories, product releases, webpages, brochures — you name it. Plus, you’ll get before-and-after versions of your own pieces illustrating each of the templates.

WWAD? Find out with this service.

Request proposal


Browse all in-house writing workshops


[1], 2017

[2] Chadwick Martin Bailey, 2010

[3] HubSpot, 2016

[4] Radicati, 2014

[5] Nielsen Norman Group, 2017

[6] HubSpot, 2018

[7] Nielsen Norman Group, 2017

[8] Litmus, 2017

[9] Nielsen Norman Group, 2017

[10] #LyrisROI chat, 2010

[11] Litmus, 2017

[12] Litmus, 2017

[13] Litmus, 2017

[14] Nielsen Norman Group, 2017

[15] MailChimp, 2017

Free writing tips
  • Get tips, tricks & trends for Catching Your Readers
  • Learn to write better, easier & faster
  • Discover proven-in-the-lab writing techniques