Email Format – a Simple Guide {plus sales email facts and stats}

email format

Your email format plays a big role in how your message is received whether using sales emails or editorial emails. This post breaks down each piece of an email’s format and best practices for each part. 

Before we start, remember, that the #1 way to ensure your email campaign formats are successful is by A/B testing various parts of your emails. Start with a goal for each email. 


  • Cold email goal could be a return call

  • Welcome email goal may be getting reader to whitelist your sender address

*Also, we will touch on an aspect of email marketing that formatting can’t affect.

Table of Contents 

  • Subject Line
  • Intro / Greeting
  • Body (Main Content)
  • Closing Line or Paragraph
  • Signature
  • Sales Email Facts and Stats
  • Example Email Formats for Guidance and Inspiration
  • Promotional and Transactional Formats
  • Cold Email Format Expert?
  • Quick Email Format Best Practices
  • Newsletters and Follow-ups
  • Wrap-up

Typical Email Format Includes

The subject line is your headline. Headlines are what get news articles read, right? Same principle holds with email subject lines. 

A recent study found 64% of people decided to open or delete emails based solely on the subject line!

The greeting can be personalized or you can jump right into the content / body of your email. Personalization is often touted as a best practice. But without A/B testing you won’t know for sure with your audience.

⭐In fact, one recent finding showed non-personalized subject lines outperformed personalized ones.  

Now, the body of your email could be a few lines in a sales email or range up to hundreds of words in a newsletter email format. 

As for your closing, most of the time there will be a call-to-action (CTA). But this is not a must.

If you are mailing several times a week, too many CTAs could be a turn-off to readers seeking mostly informative content. 

Your signature ends the email. Just know that adding a P.S. can be highly effective for producing responses and clicks. 

⭐Past reports show people will read the P.S. line even when they gloss over the rest of the email. 

*Don’t forget – an unsubscribe link should be included in nearly all email formats – sales letters, newsletters, welcome emails, etc.

The Main Thing in all Email Formats – Subject Line

Email marketers know the main thing in email sends is? Effective subject lines. 

email format

Even if you don’t consider yourself an email marketer, if your small business sends any emails, your customers may never see your messages. Because their inbox is overflowing. 

A great subject line is a must to ensure your emails stand out in these crowded inboxes.

3 tips for subject lines to get higher open rates:

  • Form subject lines as questions to create curiosity
  • Use an emoji at start of subject line
  • Use the word “New” or synonyms when possible

Inbox Mailers improves open rates too. 

Our Network Effect ensures your emails get noticed even in the most crowded inbox. 

How? Triggered emails that land at the perfect moment when your target is actively checking their email.

Interested? Get a one-on-one demonstration of Inbox Mailers. 

Inbox Mailers Demo

Moving on to the next piece of the puzzle.

Greeting Section in Email Formats

The standard goto of using a recipient’s name is fading a bit. Why? So commonplace that it no longer stands out.

If you’re writing cold emails, you will need to know more than a name in order to even get a target’s attention. Much less a response.

So here again, you should test. 

Because even if another organization sees higher engagement by using a specific greeting, it doesn’t mean you will. 

They could:

  • Be in a different industry

  • Have varying customer demographics

  • Have a unique style

See, if you’re a small business trying to use the style of a professional writer with their branded email format, that may be impossible to duplicate. 

Keys to a good greeting:

  • Be warm
  • Don’t waste readers’ time
  • Be clear who you are (especially in Welcome emails)

The Body

So many different email formats for the main content of your sends. 

There are cold email templates.

Endless newsletter design formats.

Copywriting structures proven to work to get conversions / sales.

You can tell a story in the body of your email

Highlight stats and facts your readers will find valuable. 

⭐Mix facts with storytelling.

You can also break down reports from other outlets into smaller chunks.

And your main email content could be curated content you have organized for your readers.

A crucial point many email marketers miss? 

That they must keep their subscribers top-of-mind when writing emails. What do the readers want? It’s so important.

Now for the email’s ending.

Email Format Closing Choices

Most marketers put their CTA at the end of email campaigns. 

⭐Some studies report putting the CTA at the start of the email (above the fold) increased the click rate.

Why not put your CTAs in both? Again. A/B test your email format choices then lean into what is proven most effective.

If writing doesn’t come easy for you, closing an email might seem difficult.

Good news. The person reading is just a person – like you. 

Close your letter to that one person. 

Don’t think about your readers as a group. One person is your focus. That makes opening and closing emails easy as ABC.

email format

Signing Off (Personally)

Yes, you can handle signing your name without my hand-holding! 

But two helpful nuggets of info for sales emails and editorial sends—  make a more personal connection with subscribers.

  1. Add a handwritten signature with a jpeg or some ESPs (email service platforms) have authentic signature tools. 
  1. Snov reported signatures alongside a photo receive 32% more replies, so say cheese.

I promised these helpful figures so…

Sales Email Facts and Stats

You may be sending sales emails rarely or every single week. 

Mega mailers send marketing emails daily or many times a day.

Effective? You bet, if they’re using best practices and email formats tested and perfected over time.

Regardless of frequency, you’ll find these 9 facts and stats helpful when you hit the send button. 

  1. Your ESP can affect email deliverability
  1. Triggered emails generate 306% more click-throughs than non-triggered emails
  1. Industry-wide average open rates are roughly 20% (varies slightly depending on source of study)
  1. Abandoned cart emails are a must since over $111 billion is lost yearly on unfinished checkouts!
  1. Welcome emails get high open rates (up to 91.43%) + help ensure your readers watch for your future campaigns
  1. Retail sales emails and marketing sends average a low 11.07% open rate
  1. Non-profits can average just under 22% open rates
  1. Subject lines with numerals beat overall subject line avg. by 44.9% (YesWare)
  1. Month for highest click rate and click-to-open rate→ June (GetResponse)

sales email

(Source lists)



Example Email Formats for Guidance and Inspiration

I won’t waste your time on professional email one-off sends.

It’s not hard to be professional. Write what you would say in person to someone in a business setting. 

Easy enough. But Welcome emails are different – you’re promoting something to a group of subscribers.

So here are 3 good peeks at Welcome email formats you can swipe.

  1. Friendly welcome
  2. Intro with perks
  3. Inbox Hacking – we sponsor it and it’s free – so join to get email marketing tips and tactics. Their Welcome email is a solid example to check out.

One more Welcome email format below. See highlights of key points like his initial setting of expectations – what you signed up for. Yes, this reminder is a must because, remember, people drowning in emails can forget signing up.

email format

Now for two opposite email formats.

Promotional and Transactional Formats

Promotional email formats can range from glossy photo-filled messages to plain text. Lots of wiggle room for creativity to make the sale / get conversions. 

Transactional emails are easier since they can be straightforward. The recipient only needs the facts. As in, their order was received or their package just shipped.

⭐ Both types of emails can be automated. More so with transactional emails but sales emails promoting offers can be set to send automatically too. 

Examples being a drip series or holiday offers scheduled weeks or months ahead of time.

Automation is a handy tool in email marketing. Work less, send more.

Cold Email Format Expert?

I could bend your ear about cold emails. But instead, I’ll direct you to an awesome resource. 

⭐But first, please don’t spam people or you will kill your deliverability and damage your ability to reach inboxes. 

Cold email is not necessarily spam if it targets a certain person with a specific offer that connects with that person. (Paraphrased from Spamhaus).

And here is Mailshake – email formats you can easily follow + cold email templates.

Also, a masterclass to help you understand the ins and outs of gathering email addresses (⭐watch for spam traps) and reaching inboxes.

Two more formats upcoming to wrap up but if you need fast help…

Quick Email Format Best Practices

  • Use Grammarly and manually proofread all types of emails before sending

  • Test for readability with Hemingway App

  • How’s your email template look in the actual inbox (send to self first)?

  • No giant text blocks

  • Watch for formatting glitches in ESP (example: bold words crammed)

  • Check ‘tokens’ or auto-inserts like FIRSTNAME are working properly in ESP

  • Photo-heavy emails may be marked as spam or load slowly too slowly

  • Video embedded isn’t wise (not widely adopted by mailbox owners)

  • A second pair of eyes can ensure your message is crystal clear

Last 2 formats below.

Newsletters and Follow-ups

Most ESPs have a heavy focus on newsletter formats. It won’t be hard to find one that suits your needs. 

Follow-up email formats may be a little more scarce depending on your niche. 

So here are a couple I like from Really Good Emails. But Mailshake will have some copy and paste sales email follow-ups for you as well.

Back to newsletters for one second. It’s crucial to use formats that utilize your brand colors, logos, etc. 

Yet, the same layout on weekly email sends can get tedious. And if you don’t surprise your subscribers a bit they could stop opening your emails and eventually unsubscribe. 

email format

Why not use these 5 tips to keep your newsletter readers’ attention for the loooong haul?

  • Level up your graphics with AI art that fits
  • Add sections to your newsletter to fuse with holidays or seasons
  • Remove sections you have worn out (even great ideas play out, right?)
  • Request feedback in your signature section
  • Offer loyalty incentives

Wrapping up Your Email Format Guide

Oh, one little mention – AI writing tools like ChatGPT.

I don’t suggest looking for links to prompts that magically produce sales emails or the next great novel.

My suggestion is to spend a few hours a month with the bot-writer of your choice. This is the only real way to learn how to use these new writing tools.

There are pros and cons but you will not get a feel for the possibilities unless you play around and test AI writers for yourself.

And when you do, you’ll have this guide to give you a headstart on email formats that are effective and what other brands are using. 

Plus, you can return to the 9 sales email facts to help guide you on best practices for getting more emails opened, higher click rates, and improving your bottom line.

Email is one of the most personal forms of marketing.

 It has stood the test of time and produced billions in profits for companies far and wide.

Formatting your emails comes down to more than graphics and content options. 

Those are crucial, but your email strategy can’t be constrained to just a few elements. 

Put your personal imprint on all your campaigns, keep the audience top-of-mind, and stay updated here with email marketing news so you can stand out in the inbox for years to come.

If you’re really struggling with low open rates and unengaged subscribers, even the perfect email format may not help right away. Inbox Mailers is the tool for you. Why not test it out with a one-on-one demo? Schedule today and see how users are tripling their open rates in many cases (Ask about LeadMark’s case study results when you schedule your demo).

Picture of John Gardner

John Gardner

John Gardner is an expert email marketer and co-founder of Inbox Mailers. He specializes in email segmentation and improving overall deliverability, helping top brands and businesses optimize their email marketing strategy.