Email Guts – The ins and outs of an effective email marketing message

In terms of their success as effective marketing tools, the composition of email messages is more important than ever. With the mountain of e-mails strewn across cyberspace today, marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to get their messages across, opened and read by prospects and customers. The success and effectiveness of email marketing campaigns, whether large or small, depends essentially on one factor: the message. If the message is not developed properly, nothing else matters.

Here are some tips for creating email marketing messages that have the best chance of reaching your target audience and being read.

Great topic – Just like using the wrong key to unlock a treasure chest leaves you completely broke, not creating a good subject line for your email has much the same effect. Without a dynamic subject line, there is at least a 90% chance (in my humble estimation) that your email will NOT be opened and will be deleted immediately.

I cannot overemphasize this one thing. You need to have a subject line that grabs your reader’s attention, piques their interest and compels them to open and read your message. No small feat. Unfortunately, too many marketers choose the subject line almost as an afterthought, when in fact this one line is arguably the most important part of your message.

It’s worth every minute and everything you put into creating a suitable subject line for your email. Done correctly and consistently, this one element can put you light years ahead of your competition.

Interesting first paragraph – After the subject line, this section is the next most important part of your email. Many readers never get past the first two or three sentences of an email. You’ll lose them if you can’t give them a reason to read more and hint or show that what’s coming will be of great interest or benefit to them.

The copy developed in this paragraph should be the “anchor” for the rest of your message. It should contain your best and most persuasive writing. This is your chance to draw the reader deeper into your message. Entice them, whet their appetite, whet their curiosity, until they are completely willing to read more.

Nice story – People love stories. When they’re immersed in a good story, it’s hard for them to remember that they’re being marketed to, and that people hate being marketed to. The stories you create can be informative, educational and interesting as well as entertaining. Stories provide a great way to communicate your message and create the foundation for building an affinity or relationship with your audience.

Keep your message focused – Every email marketing piece should have one and only one subject and purpose. It doesn’t matter if you have ten different websites or 100 different products or services. Focus your message on one thing and one thing only. Your message is most effective when it’s laser-targeted at your audience, and you don’t rely on a “shotgun” hit or miss.

Nice copy – Only the highest quality copy will do. Well written, convincing, clear. Silly mistakes like typos and incorrect grammar ruin the most persuasive sales and marketing copy. It immediately brands you and the company or organization you represent as amateurish and low-quality. If you can’t write copy, either learn or hire a professional to do it for you. If your copy is of poor quality, there is no point in sending an email.

Another point about copying: keep your information organized and short. Keep paragraphs short. Use “chunk size” chunks and numbered or bulleted lists. Choose your words carefully to get your message across effectively, but as effectively as possible.

Be personal, but find a balance – You know the stereotype of the “sawy car salesman”, kind of creepy and super slippery? This is what it feels like to read emails from someone who is a bit “too familiar” or informal. It makes your skin crawl. Not the reaction you want your readers to get from you.

Trying to build a connection with your audience is a good thing and will make your email more pleasant, warm and inviting. However, understand that there is a delicate balance that must be maintained.

You are not your reader’s friend (at least not yet). You are a stranger, a marketer; not a neighbor, not a confidant. Be careful and realize that there are invisible boundaries in your communication. And if you make the mistake of making your reader feel like you’ve crossed one of those lines, it’s very hard to fix.

Under hype – Remember that your readers will receive hundreds and hundreds of emails. This makes their “hype radar” very sensitive. Instead of using a lot of hype and bluster, offer statements, statistics, facts and resources to support or prove what you’re telling them. Doing so will go a long way in convincing them that your message is valid, valuable and credible.

Be a clear “ask” – If you are marketing a company, a specific product or service, don’t make the mistake of creating a great marketing message only to lose it at the end. Be clear when asking about the business, inviting the reader to learn more, directing the reader to join the list, or whatever “call to action” you may need.

By the time your reader gets to this section of the email, if you’ve done your job properly, they’ll already be inclined to do as you ask. So ask! Politely, professionally, but confidently.

The email marketing tips discussed above are by no means an exhaustive list, but I think we’ve covered most of the basics. Although keywords weren’t mentioned earlier (because emails don’t require SEO), it’s always a good idea to use them in emails whenever possible. It has the advantage of making the reader focus on what your message is about. Then at some point, if the reader loses the original information in the email, they will still know what keywords to use to find you through a search engine search.

Email marketing can be a very effective and profitable marketing strategy. Used intelligently and judiciously, it can be informative and useful to your readers and incredibly useful to you.

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