Email Writing Best Practices: Connecting with Your Audience
Start on the front end of your campaign plan. First, are you clear on your target audience, and, are you clear on how you’re matching your best offer or appeal with that audience? Bulk emails do not have a long shelf life if they do not refer a reader immediately and directly to a felt need or desire. Plan your email around offering something your chosen recipients actually need — the product or service that best matches their demographic. You would also do well to consider the season of the year. What a client wants during tax season, back-to-school season, the end of summer, or the winter holidays are likely going to differ. An accurate match builds appeal.
Clean up your lists
This tip is simple, but crucial. A lot of hard bounces are due not to ineffective campaigns, but to email address lists that need to be brought up to date. Invest here, keep your email lists accurate, and save yourself a lot of trouble trying to figure out where you went wrong. If you receive soft bounces — for example, vacation messages — eliminate an address, or request a new one, after five soft bounces in a row.
Craft an honest subject line
The subject line is the front door of your email. It is where prospects will decide whether to enter. If you keep it under fifty characters and avoid dramatic, pushy, or “Have-I-got-a-deal-for-you” lingo, you’re off to a good start. Mostly you’re dealing with savvy consumers who know how to clean their inboxes quickly. So:
- Keep it simple. Make a legitimate appeal to your reader’s time by simply and briefly summarizing the content of the email. “It’s 2018, Gloria. Ready to Consolidate Your Student Debt?” works much better than “LAST CHANCE to Save $$$ with OUR Loan Rates!” You can be sober, clever, or quippy, but be honest and to the point. And if your message is urgent, then certainly let that be known in the subject line. But don’t be dramatic.
- Make it clear. A subject line is meant to preview the email. If your subject line refers clearly to what’s inside, your truly interested prospects, the targets you want to hit, will be the ones attracted by what you’re clearly offering. Readers are also attracted to seeing their name in the subject line, when appropriate. Your prospects appreciate this clarity and forthrightness. Subject lines that insinuate or sensationalize simply are not as effective.
Clean, honest subject lines build a good reputation in the inbox. Even if someone doesn’t click this time, that doesn’t mean they are turned off to your brand. If they know they can expect straight shooting from you, then next time they may explore your offer.
Put your prospect’s best interests first
There are many tips for technical excellence when it comes to the main body of your email. But though design, color, font choices, messaging and tone should remain strongly brand-consistent, your very first priority is making your email reader- and client-friendly. What’s easiest on the eyes and best matched to your target prospect’s needs is a winning email, even before adding your brand’s special touch. Serving your readers with a legitimately interesting offer is a meaningful, and relationship-building gesture when you combine it with basic email hospitality: clean, accurate copy, one or two points of personalization (such as use of recipient’s name), clear headings, accurate links, accessible contact information for your organization, and an easy unsubscribe option.
Send it off at the right time
The morning and evening are typically not great times to send a campaign. In the morning, starting off their days, your readers will be stricter about cleaning out their inboxes. In the evening, again, readers are ready to handle only what’s urgent; eager to get in out-of-work mode. A similar principle applies to the beginning and end of the week. Midday and mid-week tend to be more effective times to send campaigns.
Test several times, then several more times
Once you have your email crafted, you need to ensure it is a fully legible email. This means sending and opening tests across different computers, handheld devices, smartphones, and email servers. View the email in your inbox, and view it in your browser. Test the email across two or three generations, depending on your target audience (Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X). And when you test, get at least two different kinds of editing eyes: those who can proof copy closely, and those who can analyze the general impression and appeal of the design and copy combined. Notice how the email looks when it shows up in your inbox: does it stand out among other emails? Is it immediately clear what it’s offering? Finally, check to make sure all of your links work. Do not underestimate the power of testing to sharpen your marketing emails.
Range, a Deluxe company, knows that successful marketing requires savvy and the desire to serve. We are here to serve you. As you build your business or organization and, in turn, build your community, call us for an integrated, high-touch marketing solution.