Writing Emails that Get Results: Five Tips That Make a Difference
Writing effective emails is not easy, but some simple guidelines can make a big difference.
You have your mailing list in place, with all those dead addresses gone. You have done everything you can to avoid burial in the spam graveyard. You have sliced and diced your list and you think you may have hit on a good segmentation plan. You have a killer subject line that mere mortals will be unable to resist.
The preliminaries are over and it is time for the main event: How do you make the body of your message do its job?
- Emphasize your call to action. The point of your message is to induce the reader to take some action. Regardless of the specific action you have in mind, make the call stand out. If you have piqued your reader’s interest, capitalize on that interest and make it as easy as possible for the reader to do what you have convinced him to do.
- Do not settle for the all-purpose “click here.” You make your call to action with a specific goal in mind. That goal could be a purchase, a subscription or a visit to your site for any of a thousand reasons. Let your reader know exactly what lies behind each link. “Click here to subscribe.” “Click here to buy now.” “For more information, click here.”
- Align your links with their targets. If you are advertising a specific item, take your customer directly to that item. If you are offering more information, take your reader directly to the relevant page. Links that lead to your home page leave your readers with too much to do once they get to your site. Many will be annoyed. Some will get discouraged. A few will simply give up.
- Avoid images, at least some of the time. A significant number of users block images, and the trend is not friendly to marketers. In 2006, according to a MarketingSherpa survey, 55 percent of respondents were happy to let images arrive in their inboxes. In 2010, that proportion had fallen to 33 percent. This is not to suggest that marketers should resort to pure text. Be careful, though, of using images to communicate important parts of your message, especially your call to action.
- Use snippets and auto-preview to your advantage. Many email programs display the first few words of each message along with its subject line. Reach out and grab your reader with a strong opening. At the same time, many programs offer message previews. Be sure that the visible part of your message is something that speaks to the reader, and take the time to confirm that your message displays correctly in the preview pane.
Two Bonus Tips for All Things Email
- Test everything. Take the time to view your message in different browsers and in different programs. They all have their idiosyncrasies.
- Maintain trust. Never forget that email marketing is permission marketing, so it pays to do the things that earn your readers’ trust. For example, keep your “opt-out” link prominent. The more your readers trust you, the greater the chance that you will be the one sender whose images get through and whose links get clicked.