Creating an effective email communication to existing clients and new prospects alike is a powerful and economical way to promote new services, products, and brand awareness to a wide audience, instantly. After crafting hundreds of email communications and delving through the analytics and reports we generate from those emails, we have crafted a set of best practices for our clients to keep in mind during the design process. We hope this guide will serve as a useful starting point for perfecting a powerful email message that maximizes results.
The Email Subject Line
The subject line of the email is the hook, and therefore the most important aspect of the email to consider. Within seconds, a prospect will make a decision to push the open button, or hit the delete button. The fate of your entire newsletter or blast literally rests on this one line. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when thinking about your subject line:
- A good subject line is no longer than 7 words. There is a finite amount of space within most email browsers to display the subject line. There is also a finite attention span for each user. Editing your subject down will require some thought. Remove any fanciful adjectives and flowery descriptions. Be concise and to the point. A good exercise is to drive down the road and look at billboards that strike your eye as you’re driving along. Well designed billboards incorporate this same concept of 7 words or less. Chances are, the person checking their email is hurried and moving fast. They make split-second decisions, much like operating a motor vehicle. You have to catch them, and catch them quickly.
- The subject line should create an urge to open and offer only a taste of what’s inside. It should scream, “open me!” Think of it as the first call to action. Don’t think you need to explain everything, just wet their appetite. If your offer is a free lipstick with purchase of a skin cream, then don’t write “Free Lipstick with Purchase of Skin Cream” or “Free Lipstick With A Purchase”. You’ve already given everything away up front. Instead try, “Free Lipstick Offer Inside”. You’ve asked them to open the email and a taste of what they will find. You can hit them with the details and explain more within the email itself.
- If your company has no existing brand recognition, then don’t include your name in the subject line. Unless you or your company are well known within the demographic of your blast, no one really cares what your name is (until you can offer them something they want or need of course). Most consumers will recognize “A special offer from Target inside”, but they won’t know what “A special offer from Mary’s Bakeshop” is. Alternatively, consumers will know what “Free Cookies From Your Local Bakery” might mean to them, and if you’ve caught them at a particularly weak moment of craving, you can count yourself an immediate open. There’s a spot already in place where your name goes anyway, and it’s right next to the subject line, so there’s no need to reiterate it.
- Never misrepresent what’s inside the email. Almost everyone opening an email these days is a savvy consumer. Using bait and switch tactics is the quickest way to get your email account blocked, and your brand dragged through the social media ringer.
The Email Body
The most effective emails are the simplest and least wordy. Again, editing your copy down is critical to the success of an email communication.
The goal of the email is to create a strong call to action, 100% of the time. It’s impossible to make a sale directly from an email, and once your realize that, you will have gone a long way to increasing the impact of this medium. There’s no payment forms on emails, there’s no physical product to hand over. By its very nature and structure, there has to be a next step. An email is a means to your end, it is not the end itself.
You can make a sale directly from your website, because that is a medium capable of accepting payment. You can take a credit card over the phone while speaking to a customer. However, you cannot take a payment via an email blast or newsletter without first directing the prospect somewhere else.
Why did we take three paragraphs to drill in that point? Because, it’s the most common mistake made when creating emails. So many times have we seen emails come through that include extraneous details, disclaimers, and general “fluff”. Paragraphs of disclaimers are an instant turnoff. The goal of the email is to create excitement and action. Many times disclaimers and offer details are important, but they can live on your website where people will be making their final decision.
Always ask yourself if the information is critical. If it’s not critical, leave it out.
The Call To Action
The last part of designing a great email blast is a “in your face” call to action. Generally speaking, this is a button that stands out, and that the reader can click to take them somewhere. In some cases, it may only be a phone number, but buttons work better and are more easily tracked through analytics.
When the button is clicked it should take them directly to a page on your site that pertains to the email blast. If you want sales, you need to cut to the chase. An email click that comes to the home page of your site is an open invitation for the potential client / consumer to get lost in your site, bored, or overwhelmed.
So, if you’re selling a product, take them to a page with a description of the item and a button to buy it. If you’re raising awareness, take them to a page that spells everything out succinctly.
If you follow these simple suggestions, you will be well on your way to creating a dynamic and effective email blast.
If you need help designing, coding, or generating a list of prospective businesses or consumers, please feel free to give Shake Creative a call at 813.344.4769 or fill out the form.
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