Resources Hub » Blog » How to Engage Fidgety, Skeptical Subscribers with Email Marketing

Don’t think modern email subscribers are all that fidgety? Think again. According to data from Litmus, the average person spends only 11.1 seconds on average reading an email. Believe it or not, this is actually an increase over the past five years.

What’s more? These same online visitors are becoming increasingly skeptical, too. With more than 1.47 million business emails sent each month in the US alone, readers are beginning to notice the fatigue that comes from sifting through many emails each day.

So what can you do about it? Let’s look at a few ways you can win the attention and trust of this tricky demographic with your email marketing efforts.

Incorporate short-form videos

Short-form videos (typically three minutes or less) are a simple way to make your email marketing more interesting to subscribers that fall in the “fidgety skeptics” category. Research proves this:

With the help of short-form videos, you can quickly accomplish a few important goals: (1) explaining your value proposition in an explainer video, (2) showcasing new products in visual context, and (3) giving subscribers a peek behind the scenes at your company.

Here’s an example from luggage company Biaggi:

One thing to keep in mind: Most email clients don’t support video autoplay within the inbox, so you’ll need to consider tactics like static images with a play button, animated play buttons, or, if you’re technically inclined, embedding the video in your email via HTML.

Use bite-sized sentences & bulleted lists

Data from Nielsen Norman Group tells us that people reading online commonly follow an F-shaped scanning pattern. They’re not always reading full sentences– they’re quickly grazing over the material and picking up on bits and pieces of information.

To accommodate this fidgety reading pattern, make sure your email copy is easy to consume. Use short sentences and bulleted lists to break down complex ideas into simple takeaways that jump out from the screen. You can also:

  • Place the most important information in the first lines of copy.
  • Use headings to draw attention to different sections.
  • Bold important words, dates, or data points.

Resy does a nice job of this in their email campaigns:


If you do want to showcase long-form content, consider including a snippet and a CTA button so the reader can click ‘Read more’ and head to your website if he or she so desires. In the inbox, however, keep it short and sweet.

Use the right language

Personalization is important for all subscribers (not just the fidgety skeptics.) Data shows 74% of marketers say personalized experiences increase email engagement, after all.

But beyond subject lines, dynamic content, and robust customer journeys, there’s also the language within your email that can make emails more relevant and interesting.

You can get started by finding the exact words and phrases your target audiences uses to describe the problem your business can solve. Turn to existing customer reviews, support interactions, and survey feedback to pinpoint the language you need to mirror back within your email marketing.

With a master list of important words and phrases to include nearby, you can ensure each email campaign you send is resonating with your audience and speaking their language.

Spotlight relevant social proof

It’s easy enough to tout your brand’s features and benefits, but sometimes, skeptical subscribers want to hear honest feedback from external sources. They want validation– and that’s where social proof comes in.

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon in which people conform to the actions of others because they believe that if other people are doing it, it must be the right thing to do. Using elements of social proof, you can realistically persuade your more dubious readers and get them on board.

Elements of social proof would be things like:

  • Customer testimonials
  •  Case studies
  • Numbers that showcase results/validity
  • Awards won
  • Product reviews
  • Press mentions

Headphone company Jaybird does this well within their email campaigns by showcasing the logos of sporting industry awards won:


If you can get these types of assets from people or brands that your target audience already knows, trusts, and respects, your social proof will be even more effective. Endorsements from these sources can put you in fast lane for trust and authority with even your most skeptical email subscribers.

Wrap up

Converting the fidgety skeptics on your list of email subscribers is a lot simpler when you follow the tips and strategies outlined here. Test out a few different tactics and see what works best for you and your audience. You might be surprised: In no time at all, your least likely readers may be the ones singing your praises.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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