For any email to be effective, it must have a specific goal and capitalize on establishing trust with your audience.
Design and Decisions Dictate Success
Before we look at how to write effective emails, let’s start with a few quick points.
As human beings, we crave interaction. Emails are an opportunity to interact with your audience on a one-to-one basis. As I have mentioned before it is the only communication medium that remains private. If your emails are useful and engaging, they can be incredibly effective.
But, they have to overcome the information overload we are all exposed to every day. This is especially true of marketing messages as we have become experts at ignoring these.
Long-term success with email depends on if the recipients trust you. The content of your emails must give them a reason to do that. It must have the same tone of voice and personality you use in your other content marketing. Remember that you are a real person having a conversation with another person.
For any email to be effective, it must have a specific goal. Every decision taken about the email’s design and content must address that goal.
You must design your emails for mobile devices first. It is best to use a single column design and keep it under 600 pixels in width. Your font size should be 14 pixels high at a minimum. They should be standard web-safe fonts like Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, etc.. 22 pixels is a good minimum for your titles.
So, what should you put in your emails? The essential elements of a successful email are similar to what should go into a successful blog post. If you read my earlier post, How to make sure your blog posts are the most, some of this will sound familiar.
What to put in your emails
Your emails will, usually, consist of these elements:
- The Subject Line
- A Captivating Visual
- Body Copy
- Additional Visuals
- A Call to Action
- Sharing Options
- Legal Requirements
The Subject Line
The subject line is the most important part of your email. It will determine if it will be seen, opened and read. Your subject line will hook the reader or be ignored. You should spend more time on it than the rest of the post combined. As with any content marketing, you must know your audience and what will appeal to them.
Even if your email list is an opt-in one, where people have subscribed to it themselves, only 20% of subscribers will open your emails on average. If you have bought or imported your list, the percentage will be even lower.
A great subject line can increase that 20%. It tells the viewer why they should open and read your email. It makes a unique promise to the reader. In general, it must offer usefulness or spark curiosity. If it is superb, it might do both. What can you do to hook your potential reader?
There are many techniques for writing effective subject lines. A good place to start is with what Copyblogger has noted as the Four “U” approach:
- Useful: Is the promised message valuable to the reader?
- Ultra-specific: Does the reader know what’s being promised?
- Unique: Is the promised message compelling and remarkable?
- Urgent: Does the reader feel the need to read now?
Other subject line techniques are positive and include:
- targeting your readers as individuals (personalization) or very specific groups (the more you segment your list the more effective your emails will be).
- asking a question. The frequently asked questions people ask you every day are perfect for this.
- letting your readers see that you understand them and are on their side.
- making a promise that you fulfill in the body of the email.
- positioning your company against your competition.
- being short and specific.
Or the techniques could be negative:
- taking a pain point and twisting the knife in it.
- playing on your audience’s fear of missing out.