The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s a fair statement as it relates to the use of email as a valuable marketing tool. Past studies have shown that even though people say they like emails with images, the bottom line is that emails — without the frills — work very well when the content is relevant and well-written. And that brings us to the topic of this blog entry — how to write effective emails for your marketing campaigns.
There is nothing magical about how to do this. It’s all a matter of making your points clear to your audience in the subject line and the body of the email. Here are some tips for writing better marketing emails.
Let’s start with the subject line
Like it or not, the subject line is clearly the “make or break” point of the message. In most instances, if the subject line doesn’t grab the reader’s attention. Your message isn’t likely to be read.
If you’re like most folks, you get quite a few emails every day. And unless you’re familiar with the sending party, you will more than likely end up deleting those messages if “the headline” doesn’t at least give you some cause to pause and take a look at that message. Here are some guidelines that will help you write compelling email copy.
Call the reader to action. Don’t be shy about using verbs because it lets the readers know right away what you want. For example, let’s say you receive an email from a local restaurant that’s running a special offer. There’s no guesswork when you read “Take Dad to Dinner” as the subject. It lets you know everything in an upfront manner.
Other verbs such as “call,” “download” and “buy” can be used, depending on the nature of the promotion. Even so, there are other ways to request that readers “do something” without using verbs.
Let’s say you’re a patron of the arts and you receive an email about an upcoming event. In the subject line it reads, “Don’t Miss the City Ballet performing the Nutcracker Suite.”
Although you weren’t directly asked to make a purchase, and the email hasn’t been opened yet, there’s no doubt as to what the message is about. Written in that manner, the emphasis is on benefitting the reader and not the messenger.
Whenever the opportunity presents itself, get personal. The beauty of email is that messages can be tailored to every segment of the market. According to past studies, emails targeted to a specified audience generated around 58 percent of all revenue for the companies surveyed.
That’s not at all unusual. Why? The more you can target distinct categories of consumers, the better you can personalize those messages and provide relevant copy that deals strictly with their interests.
Consider this example. A city’s pro baseball team looks to provide a variety of offerings for its fan base, which is comprised of people of different social standing and income level.
- Businesses are interested in the availability of stadium suites to entertain clients.
- Schools, churches, civic organizations, and clubs are interested in scheduling group outings (at a discount) during the course of the season.
- Many of the season ticket holders want to be kept informed about special events held in conjunction with the games (holiday fireworks, concerts, etc.)
Given the diversity of the team’s following, it would serve no useful purpose to send a generic email to everybody. Instead, you’d change the message to fit each segment, which means that each segment would have a different subject line for the email messages sent.
Clarity is a must, but strive to deliver “catchy” headlines. As a marketer, clarity in the subject line is always the chief priority. But as much as you can, strive for memorable phrases, too. However, one word of caution. You should never go for the catchy headline at the expense of being clear.
The subject line should complement email copy. This is a must. To be effective, the promise is in the email’s subject line has to be delivered in the body of the message.
If that doesn’t happen, you will see a reduction in your emails being read and even being opened. That’s not a good situation for the marketer.
So, what does that really mean? It means that subject line and body must get the job done in attracting readers and keeping them coming back for more.
Here’s what needs to go in the body of the email
Now that you’ve captured your audience’s attention with a good subject line, the next step is to write copy that will keep readers clicking on a continuous basis. Here are a few tips to help make that happen.
Keep it relevant. One way to establish relevancy is to let your audience know — at the start of the email — how you’re connected to each other. In the email body, write in
In the email body, write in second person. All this means is keeping things personal in the copy. By using the pronouns — you, your and yours – there’s no question that the message is all about providing benefit for the reader. See example below:
“Real quick, I have a valuable free report to give you today. One of my colleagues just wrote a short, but valuable ebook giving you (on a silver platter) the three biggest online profit opportunities that you can take advantage of right now! Best of all, it’s absolutely free! It’s yours to have right now. Just click here.”
Notice the language in the message and how it focuses on the recipient and not the sender. It’s all about providing a helpful service to a potential customer.
Emphasize the benefits instead of the features. This is a tipping point for many marketers. It’s always better to explain how your offering will help the reader solve a problem. The better job you do in being a problem solver, the more conversions you’ll have. Here’s how this works.
Auto dealers’ email promotion
The email promotion informs readers of a discount being offered on all makes and models at a local auto dealership.
Clothing store email promotion
“Our versatile slacks take you from leisure time to semi-formal very quickly. Just switch the dress shirt with the tank top and add a sports coat for a speedy fashion update.”
Which promotion gets the job done?
The clothing store promotion is customer-oriented. The auto dealership promotion is not. How come?
Although the car dealership promotion tells about the discounts, there is no explanation about customer benefits. How will these discounts benefit the buyer? It doesn’t say.
The clothing store promotion does just the opposite. The copy gives a brief summary about the convenience and versatility of the slacks, which enable a man to change outfits quickly and without much effort. It’s clear what the benefits are.
Keep it brief. One of the cardinal sins among copywriters is wordiness. It’s always best to get right to the point in the message. That’s because most people scan marketing emails rather than read word-for-word from beginning to end.
Brevity helps readers quickly find the main points in the message, so they can make a decision on what action they want to take. If the email copy is too long, folks aren’t likely to continue because they aren’t able to sort through all the info in the message.
The big challenge is producing concise copy in a compelling way that will prompt readers to click on your website for more details.
Stay on point to state your case in your emails
Staying on point is essential to writing brief email copy. The one goal should always be to write tight copy that will prompt readers to take action. Aside from that, there’s no need to include multiple calls-for-action in the emails.
You only need one and that’s verified by recent research, which confirms that email clickthrough rates are higher when there’s one call-for-action in the message. By keeping that in mind, you’re well on your way to connecting with your audience in a way that will lead to higher conversions.
The good emails all have a call-for-action included. And it should be easy to find it in your message. Since people tend to scan their emails, it’s vital that recipients have no problems knowing where to click on the emails you send.
What’s been your experience with email marketing? Tell me about the pluses, minuses and the challenges. As always, your feedback in greatly appreciated. Please share in the comments below.