Think about the influx of emails you receive every week. How many of them do you actually open? What entices you to read them? More importantly, what made you take that actionable step? There are many elements that go into creating the perfect email.
As marketers, we know nothing is worse than perfecting an email for hours to see little to no results.
An effective email must include key components to attract a reader to take the next step. The biggest factor of them all? Value. No matter how much hard work you put into crafting the right email, if it doesn’t contain some sort of value, your open and click-through rates could fall flat.
If you’re looking to switch up your email marketing strategy with what works, take a look at our best practices to create emails that engage your audience.
Define Your Goals
If you don’t understand the goal of an email, it’s likely that the receiver on the other end won’t either. Reaching the inbox isn’t the goal—engaging your audience is. By clearly defining your goals, you are able to guide the direction of your campaign and measure success. Emails should never be sent “just because.” When thinking about the goals of your campaign, ask yourself these four questions:
Is the action made clear?
Why should the audience care?
Who am I sending the email to?
How will I measure success?
Your answers to these questions will help you steer the construction of your email campaigns.
Ask yourself, “Why am I sending this email and which actions do I want subscribers to take?” Maybe your numbers are down and you’re looking to re-engage. Are you trying to reach a certain amount of people to sign up for a webinar? Is your company launching a new product? Answering questions like these will define your call-to-action (CTA) and which step you want a reader to take next.
A CTA should be crystal clear. If you’re seeking more users to buy tickets for an event, the CTA should link to a registration page where subscribers can purchase them immediately. The text on the CTA should be a non-negotiable of what it will do. For example, continuing to use buying tickets as the goal, the text on the CTA should be something like "Purchase Tickets" or "Buy Tickets Here".
Although you may have a priority action, that doesn’t mean you can’t have other links within the email. The main focus should be on the clear goal of having the subscriber purchase a ticket, but there can be other relevant links included as well. Don't go link and CTA crazy, though, or your subscribers may come down with a case of analysis-paralysis and end up not clicking anything at all.
Once you know what action you want your audience to take, put your content in the right context. More often than not, segmenting content per audience demographic is a good idea.
For example, you wouldn’t send an email encouraging a ticket purchase to someone who has already bought tickets for the event. By segmenting lists properly, you can easily pick and choose which emails go to whom.
The CTA, content, and design of an email campaign should be streamlined to look seamless no matter where your audience reads their email from. If most of your subscribers open emails from their mobile devices, keep that in mind when designing your email and double-check that everything looks compatible.
What does your email have to offer a reader and why should they care? While the clicks and open rates benefit you, what will your audience gain from the experience? Clearly state the benefit of taking the intended action and write purposefully with relatable and positive language.
You’ve clearly defined the action you want the subscribers to take and the goals you are achieving if they take action. Finally, it’s time to decide how you will measure your success.
Click rates and open rates are two common ways to measure email success, but they don’t always show the whole picture.
Increased metrics don’t always have to be the main goal. For example, if you asked your audience to use a hashtag on a related Instagram post. Maybe the open rate wasn’t as high comparatively to other emails, but there were tons of people using the hashtag you asked them to. If the main CTA in the email asked your audience to post on Instagram with a hashtag, the goal to create buzz and drive awareness was achieved.
Now that you know how to define your goals, it’s time to talk about the layout and design of your email.
Creating a Killer Subject Line
The first element of an email users are going to see is the subject line. 35% of email recipients decide if they are going to open an email based on the subject line alone. If it isn’t relevant, interesting, or inspiring, the reader isn’t going to open it.
Just as you would put a good chunk of time into creating a blog headline, consider doing the same for an email subject line. However much time you spend writing email copy, you should spend half of that on your subject line. There are a few helpful factors to consider when writing your next subject line to keep it compelling, including:
Length: Research shows that the subject lines with the best open rates are between six to ten words. This is likely due to the number of people who check their emails on their mobile devices. Long subject lines may look great on a browser but mobile devices won’t show the whole story on the screen and could lose interest.
Create Urgency: Create a sense of urgency in your subject line with action words. Using phrases like “act now,” “you deserve this,” or “don’t miss out” will help subscribers understand what you want them to do before they open the email.
Emojis: Don’t be afraid to use emojis in subject lines, the people love it! The use of emojis in email has increased significantly in recent years. Subject lines and email as a whole are sometimes seen as dull and boring. Why not spice it up with appropriate emojis for added visuals? It’s no secret that emojis are boosting open rates!
Nail the Preview Text
You can think of the preview text of email similar to Tweets (well...before Twitter increased the character count). You only have a limited amount of time and resources to entice a subscriber to read beyond your subject line. The preview text helps a reader, especially on mobile devices, decide if an email is worth opening.
Keep the preview text short and sweet. It should include what’s going to be found in the email and if it sounds intriguing enough to your audience, they will probably open it.
Write Body Copy That Sells
It’s impossible to focus on every single customer when it comes to writing email copy. Rather than thinking about the hundreds or even thousands of subscribers you are sending the email to, focus on writing content for a "single person". This person is who would embody the buyer's persona that represents your target audience.
If you try to write copy that appeals to everybody, it will likely resonate with nobody. Relevancy, personalization, and storytelling are the three key elements to body copy that sells.
Relevancy: Think about the segmented lists we talked about earlier. An email that goes to one subscriber, may not need to go to every subscriber. Be sure to keep what’s relevant to the customer in mind when writing copy and when choosing your list of recipients.
Personalization: Have a conversation with your customer just like you would a friend. Using personalization tokens can help make the reader feel like you're speaking directly to them. Keep it simple by filtering out industry jargon so that it fits each user.
Storytelling: By telling a story, you are establishing a connection with your subscriber. Stories create a lasting impact on readers that could help them determine their buying decision or whatever the call-to-action entails.
Keep your copy relevant and conversational. If you focus on telling a story rather than selling a product, your audience will naturally put themselves in the shoes of the character and think about how your product or service will benefit them.
The Bottom Line
An effective email begins with understanding your audience and how you can help them. No one kicks off email marketing with a great strategy, though. It takes a lot of trial, error, and testing.
Email is personal and it should be treated as so. Create a conversation with your readers like the humans they are and they will feel more motivated and build trust with you to take action.
Modern Driven Media has a team of professionals who knows how to make emails perform their best. Whether it’s to increase click and open rates or help you define your goals, we will get you on the road the success. Contact us for more information on how to improve your email marketing strategy.
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