Take a moment to think about why you opened a recent email. It may have been a killer sale at 50 percent off or relevant shipping information from a recent purchase. Either way, it was most likely because of the immediate benefit that message provided you as a customer. For an email to be effective, it must offer a solution to a problem or other useful information.

So, how can you craft an effective email and keep your recipients engaged? Let’s walk through the main elements of an attention-grabbing email and how you can successfully execute each step.

1. Subject line. Creating an attention-grabbing subject line is the first step in getting your customer to open your email. The key is to keep it short and sweet. Only include a brief, snappy summary reflecting the benefit your email provides. Although you might think that it’s important to include lots of details from your email, the subject line is very limited and valuable space.

2. Preheader text. Like the subject line, the preheader text needs to be concise to fit in the limited space it occupies. A common mistake is to repeat your subject line, so be sure to write something unique to persuade your customer to open your email. Use this opportunity to expand on your subject line and make the two into one cohesive message. You can also utilize this space by including a personalized element such as your reader’s name.

3. Headers. Studies show that most people have an average attention span of eight seconds or less, which means that few people are going to take the time to navigate through endless blocks of text. Headers and sub-headers assist the reader in more easily identifying what they are seeking from your email. Use enticing headers like “our biggest sale yet” or “you won’t want to miss this” to catch attention in this section.

4. Interesting images. Graphics and photos are your time to showcase the flare of your brand. As a more creative aspect of the email, you can pull the reader in by demonstrating what makes your brand unique. You can even incorporate a call to action by including a linked graphic or photo to a particular page on your website, a landing page or a social media profile.

5. Engaging copy. Similar to the subject line and pre-header text, it is equally important to shorten your copy to only include what is necessary. It is vital to make sure your copy is relevant, clear and concise. Once you think you’re done writing the copy for your email, re-read it to ensure it communicates your message in as few words as possible.

6. Call to action and closing. Although it is important to measure how many people open your email, what really matters is if they take action. This is the time to provide valuable information. Deliver content or offers that are personalized to your audience and most importantly, add value. If people feel like they’re getting something beneficial, rather than feeling like they’re being pressured into buying something, they are more likely to have a positive view of your company that leads to current and future purchases.

Email is a precious channel to both marketers and customers alike, and if utilized correctly, your email could be a bright shining beacon in your customer’s inbox. Follow these five steps and you are sure to capture the attention of your customers and keep them coming back for more.

Happy Marketing!