Creating Focused Emails That Will Delight Library Patrons

For most of us, our brains see and engage with emails multiple times a day. We are so used to reading emails and sending them that we don’t often think of what aspects make an email successful. How do you know if the primary purpose of your email is being fulfilled?

The first thing we need to do is approach the email creation process with the right perspective. Sending out a marketing email to your public library patrons is a very different beast from sending a plain text email to a colleague or family member. In a marketing email, the message must be clear, the imagery needs to be captivating, and the call-to-action (CTA) needs to be evident. Let’s dive into some essential elements that you need to consider so that emails from your library are as effective as possible.


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What is Your Message?

Ask yourself, “why am I sending out this email?” Having a clear understanding of your email’s goal from the start will make the entire email creation process much easier. Unless you’re putting together a newsletter, it’s best only to have one main message per email. By having one message, your email recipients will have an easier time understanding the content you’re sharing, and they’ll be more likely to take action on whatever it is you’re offering them.


Unless you’re putting together a newsletter, it’s best only to have one main message per email.


It can be really tempting to include as much information as possible in one email. For example, you might be inclined to have readers advisory lists, promote your events, and share new title arrivals in your new patron Welcome emails, but doing so would be too overwhelming. If you give email recipients too many choices, they’ll end up not making any. If the email's goal is to welcome patrons, then that’s the main message that should be in your email. We covered more details on how to craft effective Welcome emails in another blog article, “Email Marketing Fundamentals for Public Libraries.” Scroll down to the “First Impressions Go a Long Way” paragraph to see an example of a perfectly crafted Welcome email that Chicago Public Library sends out to new email subscribers.





Planning and organizing emails by topic, campaign, send date, segment, and owner are all very important.

Download this template to:

  • Organize your email creation process
  • Get suggestions on common email marketing metrics
  • Use the automated formulas in the template to track success rates
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Dissecting the Structure of Your Email

Once you know what your email's main message is, you can start planning the different elements of your communication. Every aspect of your email should enhance your main message and lead to the final CTA. Together, your subject line, body copy, imagery, and CTA, tell one story that leads recipients into taking action (or, as other industries call it, converting.)

A tried and proven structure that works well to make your emails as focused as possible is the Inverted Pyramid Method. This approach to constructing emails starts with capturing the recipient’s attention, building relevance, adding value, and finally, arriving at the CTA.



This is an excellent guide to follow to create emails that are focused and effectively communicate one main message.


The Inverted Pyramid Method has a logical flow that minimizes distractions and, like a funnel, takes the reader on a journey to one specific destination. Let’s dissect it a little further:

  • The top level of the pyramid captures the reader’s attention with a catchy subject line and a charming headline that piques curiosity, makes a promise, or communicates a value proposition.
  • The next level supports your headline and strives to keep your reader interested. In this section, you explain why you’re sending the email and present the value the reader will get so that they have no option but to want to click on your CTA below. Your high-value copy should build desire and excitement.
  • The last level of the pyramid succinctly communicates the main goal of the email. It lets your reader know what they should be doing with the information they just learned.

This email structure is similar to telling a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. First, you capture your readers with a story’s title and introduction (Capture Attention.) Once you have their attention, you dive into the middle of the story, which is full of adventures and details (Build Relevance and Add Value.) Finally, you reach the climax of your story, the point where the action takes place, and the reader arrives at a resolution (Reach Main Goal.)


Inverted Pyramid Email Examples

Let’s study some examples of emails that have one main goal and use the Inverted Pyramid Method to deliver their content to readers. We’ll take a look at an email from Arapahoe Libraries, plus another two emails that are not from public libraries but are great examples of how to drive the message home.



The main goal of this email from Arapahoe Libraries is to convince subscribers to enter a contest. The headline, “Design A Bookmark Contest,” is attention-grabbing. The next three lines explain the value of entering the contest. The CTA at the end is clear and lets the reader know what to do.



In this email, Starbucks wants the reader to place an order on February 3. What’s great about this email is that the headline doesn’t tell the reader what to do; it instead delivers a value proposition, the promise to “Rake in the Stars.” The body of the email explains how the reader can get the stars (by placing an order on February 3 only) and builds the desire with the promise of a brighter day. The “Activate offer” CTA is value-driven and direct.



Although not displayed above, this email’s subject line is, “Your streak freeze saved the day! 🎊” It’s catchy and playful. The main goal here is to get the reader to purchase a streak freeze. The headline effectively communicates that a streak freeze was used, and the body copy supports the headline and explains why a streak freeze is important. The CTA is direct and to the point.


Ready to Try It Out?

Not all emails should use the Inverted Pyramid Method. At the beginning of this article, we shared that newsletters don’t follow this method. That’s because newsletters tend to have more than one goal and multiple CTAs. They are still effective because they are often centered around one theme and readers are conditioned to scan and read them differently from regular emails.

If you want your email readers to take action on a specific situation, then the Inverted Pyramid email structure is the way to go. The method works really well to welcome new patrons, re-engage inactive members, celebrate an anniversary, send out customer surveys, and send card renewal reminders.


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