Email Best Practices

Your relationship with email recipients

Their choice: recipients can subscribe or unsubscribe at anytime. Use email management software or service.

More choices: Give them options when they unsubscribe (lower traffic list, RSS feed or other sources)

Frequency: They understand how often you’re sending. Send regularly and consistently.

Writing for email

Get in copywriter mode: Your subject line is a headline. The body of your email = as brief and concise as possible and link to more info.Consider using photos, but make sure they show up within the email. Don’t include formats like word. Make it easy.

Tell a story: Replace the typical bulletin and reminder of date, time and place with the arc of a story.Plan your narrative in advance, and communicate often but in short bursts that come in a series.

Call to action: Ask clearly and for one thing at a time. Ask for things other than purchase or attendance most of the time; advice, ideas, comments, volunteer, picture, video, other kinds of involvement. Sometimes you don’t need to ask for anything at all except attention.

Social or real capital: Reward people, as if your ask is an implied contract. What will people get? A good time? A signed piece of memorabilia? Entry in a contest?

Recognize your supporters’ contributions: When you recognize someone or everyone, it rewards people for their support, and motivates those who did not join that time.

Behind the scenes access – People love it. It makes them feel connected to your process.

Questions to Ask

All emails should answer these questions.

  • Why me? How is this message relevant to me?
  • What now? What do you want me to do right now?
  • What’s next? If I do it, what will happen next?


Strategies for content


What necessitates an email blast? What is email worthy? Upcoming exhibitions, lectures, publications. Maybe not anything that seems too braggy: “I got a grant”, “my work just entered the MoMA collection”, etc. Is there really news, story or something to share? Poll others to gain perspective on weather it seems worthy.  Read effective email communications for some basic strategies.

Don’t leave this out:

  • who, what, when, where, how and why;
  • links, especially back to your website or blog;
  • email signature;


Technical Details:

  • TO vs. BCC (Your email address in the TO field, everyone else in the BCC field (no spamming).
  • Don’t send multiple emails to the same person.
  • Send less than 50 recipients per email (spam blockers will get you)
  • html or plain text?  html looks so much better, but plain text can be fine for short messages



  • File size: Attached file sizes no larger than 500kb.
  • Type of files:  PDF is the best as it is cross platform. JPEGs can be okay too.
  • Links: you can link out to images on your website or another hosted servers