Email is a great way to get your message across. Whether it’s engaging with customers or building interest with prospects, from driving traffic to a website or promoting an offer. It’s fast, efficient, and measureable.
But the key lies in the measureable – you need to make sure your marketing emails perform well.
After all, they’re up against a lot of competition.
An Email Benchmarking Report from the DMA showed that UK marketers sent over 1.7 billion emails in the first half of 2010, an increase of 50% over the same period in 2009.
You need to make sure your email is the one that gets heard above the din. And that once it’s opened, the content lives up to the promise of the subject line.
So, here are a few tips to make sure that your emails perform as best they can.
The subject line
This is the first thing your audience will see. It needs to be attention-grabbing, yet realistic. Research shows that people tend to read their emails down instead of across, so try to get your key words into the start of your subject line instead of halfway through, or worse, at the end. Lead with the benefit. So if you’re writing about Ten tips to better email subject lines, rephrase as Better subject lines: ten top tips. And keep them short too. Many email clients cut subject lines short at a certain character count. Avoid going over 50 characters where possible.
If you have more than one great idea for a subject line, you could always try a split test. This is where you send a small segment of your data the email, split by the two subject lines. You then monitor which had the best open rate, and send the rest of your data the email using the best performing subject line.
When writing your email, keep the tone informal and personal. People are likely to be reading their emails on their smartphone or tablet on the commute to work, or while they’re having lunch at their desk. They don’t want to be bombarded with business jargon – they’ll lose interest.
Keep it light-hearted, getting across the necessary message in as straight-forward a manner as possible.
Also remember who the email is coming from. If it’s a note from an account manager to their customers, it needs to be written in a style that genuinely feels like it came from them. And use plain text for emails that are meant as a personal note. They’re not half as believable if they are fully HTML designed. After all, do you put emails to your customers into a HTML template?
When you start your email get straight to the point in the first sentence or two. Avoid waffle at all costs. While it’s nice to demonstrate to the audience that you understand their industry, you’re only wasting valuable space if you begin an email with a paragraph telling the reader about problems in their industry that they already know about. After your introduction, you can use subsequent sentences to expand on your offer, why it’s relevant to the reader and highlighting key benefits.
It’s useful to include links where possible within the email. This provides a measurable tool as well, allowing you to monitor ‘click throughs’. Rather than use up space by writing ‘click here to find out more’, simply hyperlink the relevant phrase within your email.
So, for instance, ‘I wanted to let you know about our guide on how to write a marketing email’ could be hyperlinked, so you save words not having to add ‘click here to read it’.
Call to action
This is equally as important as the subject line. The email’s purpose is to move the audience to the next step. That could be registering for an event. Reading a research paper. Or signing up for a product demo. It’s rare you’ll get a sale off the back of a marketing email, but if it does its job and gets your audience to the next stage, then the chance of a sale is that much closer.
So, make the call to action simple. Make sure it adds value and gives the reader something worthwhile. If you’re trying to get registrations for an event, consider a link in the email that simply says, ‘yes, I’d like to come’ that can be submitted with no effort. If you take the prospect off to a page with a long form to complete, the chances are they’ll lose interest.
If you are pointing them off to more content, like a webpage, make sure it tells them something over and above what they already read in the email.
And a similar rule applies as with links that I discussed previously. Don’t ask the reader to ‘click here’, change it to ‘get your free demo’.
And lastly, dropping the CTA at the end of an email might not always be the best place. If there’s a chance it won’t be seen because it’s below the fold of an email, consider putting it in the sidebar near the top of the email.
Who the email is seen to be sent from is not always given enough thought – but it is important. Where you can, try and avoid sending from generic info@ email addresses. Ideally, the ‘from address’ should be a person, and you should have control over that inbox. Try to avoid using clients’ email addresses as you are then reliant on them forwarding you email responses. However, if there is an auto forward in place, this is ok.
And don’t forget those pesky spam filters. There are lots of websites available that check your content for common words that get caught up in spam filters. Oddly enough, free often goes unnoticed, but talk of reducing cost or using % have been known to cause problems.
More importantly, make sure that your emails are relevant for the audience to make sure they don’t blacklist you as a spam sender themselves!