6. How to Write an Email?

Now that you know about email marketing, types of emails and a mailing list, we reach the step where you will proceed with writing your email. There are many things to think about here, and many factors to have in mind to make sure the email is created in a way that will maximize open and click-through rates.

Email design

Email design refers to the entire layout of your email. It includes everything from font size to images. You have a couple of seconds to attract the attention of the email recipients once they open your email, and the best way to do so is with a stunning email design. You should focus on each element of the email and make sure you optimize it in a way to get the most out of it.

Elements of a good email

To help you design your first email, let us start with analyzing each element of an email, and how those can be improved and optimized in a way that the campaign yields the best results for your business.

Effective and relevant subject line

It all starts with a subject line. This is the first thing that users see, and as the statistics show, a significant number of recipients (more than 30%) will open the email based on the subject line. This shows that the power of those couple of words is tremendous. A subject line can literally determine the success of your campaign. In fact, some words in the subject line can even predestine your email to the spam box.

Tips for writing an effective subject line:

  • Be concise and to the point

Get straight to the point with the subject line. You have only a couple of words to attract the attention of the user, so make good use out of them. Also, have in mind that a large percent of your subscribers will be reading the email on their mobile devices, where the preview features between three to six words on average. This is another reason to be concise.

  • Be descriptive and relevant

Use the subject line to describe what is in the message. Provide a sort of a glimpse of what the subscribers can find in the email, regardless if it is a discount code, the link to the new article, etc. You should make sure that the title is also relevant to the message, so avoid using vague phrases and metaphors. If your message is time-sensitive, due to an offer that expires soon, you could include this information in the subject line.

  • Be personal

Personalizing the subject line enables subscribers to identify with it. Some ways to personalize the subject line include using subscriber’s’ name, addressing them directly using you and your, adding localization attribute (e.g. See you at London meetup), etc.

  • Be engaging

The subject line should encourage the recipient to open the email. You will create an engaging subject line by combining the above suggestions. Also, try to add some sort of a call to action, or a question to encourage more opened emails.

  • Test

Finally, to make sure how efficient a certain subject line is, test it. The best way to do so is with A/B testing, which provides details about different variations of a subject line.

Words in the subject line you should avoid as they may trigger spam filters (Source):

  • Discount
  • Best price
  • Check
  • Passwords
  • Lifetime
  • Success
  • Here
  • Free

Compelling copy

Once you have the catchy subject line, you will need a relevant copy. Reaching the inbox of your subscribers is one thing, but getting them to read is another one. Your email message should:

  • Address the subscriber directly

Try to directly address your subscribers. Imagine you are writing to one person, instead of the entire list. They are your target group, which means you should be able to understand the way they communicate, the needs they might have, the problems they have to resolve. Addressing them personally, helps you establish a better relationship, which eventually increases conversion rate.

  • Be relevant and concise

You should send an email when you have something to say. Having this in mind, you do not want to waste any words and beat around the bush. Get straight to the point. A concise and relevant message is something your subscribers will appreciate, especially now when their inbox is swamped with emails each day.

  • Pay attention to the formatting

Formatting makes your message look nicer. As much as the quality of the text is important, you need to pay attention to the way that text is presented. Here are a couple of things to consider when formatting the text:

  • Use paragraphs to separate text units
  • Add space between paragraphs
  • Pay attention to the capitalization
  • Use proper punctuation
  • Use a custom layout

Not every email is the same. Nor is the message you are trying to convey. This is why you need a custom layout for each email. This includes formatting, but it also includes adding images, adding a logo, etc. All of this grabs the attention of the recipients, and what is more important, makes your message recognizable.

Email marketing tools come with plenty of customization options, ready-made templates, features to help you design your own templates, etc. If you want to get a full potential from email marketing, you will need one of the tools to help you. With custom email design, your email messages will look much more professional and engaging.

A strong CTA

A CTA (call to action) should be the central point of your email. It is the most important thing in your email if you want recipients to take an action. For example, if the goal of your campaign is to get subscribers to read your latest blog article, you will feature a CTA that invites them to do that, with a clickable CTA that leads to the article you want to promote. In case you want to promote a product in your online store, your CTA will be linked to that specific product.

You should consider a CTA as a sort of a bridge between the email recipient and your final goal. The purpose of the CTA is to invite subscribers to go beyond the email, to interact with you by watching your video, downloading a free guide, or simply visiting your website.

Email buttons are designed in two ways. You could either use HTML or insert predesigned images. The good thing about HTML is that the button will be shown even if the recipient has disabled images to be shown in the emails, which is something most email services do by default. HTML buttons are also loaded faster. On the other hand, image buttons offer more opportunity for customization, as you get access to a much wider range of visual elements.

In general, a strong CTA is:

  • Actionable
  • Visible
  • Relevant

Some examples of a CTA:

CTAs for purchase related emails:

  • Show now
  • Order now
  • Yes! I want one.
  • Get 50% off

Content related CTAs:

  • Learn more
  • Read more
  • Watch now

CTAs for events:

  • Book your ticket
  • Save me a spot
  • Sign me up

Noticeable links

Links are usually a part of the email in the email marketing campaign. They can be placed in two ways, as a button or as a link.

When a link is placed as a button, that is basically a CTA. It is very prominent, easily noticeable and it is best to have only one such button in an email. So, a button should feature the most crucial link. On the other hand, plain links are used for less important things. You can add a couple of links in the email, but always make sure they are:

  • Easily noticeable (use different color, font, underlined text, etc.)
  • Clickable (make sure the links are not broken, and that they lead to the right landing page)

Since links tend to be less effective in grabbing attention than CTAs, instead of one word, your link can feature a longer anchor text, which will make it more eye-catching. It will also be easier to click on a longer link than on a single word, especially when it comes to mobile users.

An unsubscribe option

Unsubscribe link is usually included at the end of the email message. There is no need to highlight it or make it prominent. In fact, unsubscribe link is usually rather small and in a lighter color. However, it is still necessary to have one, because you need to allow people to make a choice. It still is their own personal inbox, and for some reason, at one point, people may just want to stop receiving your emails, and you need to make this possible for them. Otherwise, they will most probably report your email in order to stop them coming.

Having people unsubscribe willingly can also benefit you because you will stop wasting time and effort on subscribers that simply will not be engaged or converted by your campaign.

How to write a high-performing email?

The above tips are focused on optimizing elements of the actual email and email body, in order to maximize its performance. When it comes to the content, these are the guidelines you should follow:

Personalize email subject line and content

When you create an email campaign, you design an email template. Even though it is a template is should be an email that is completely personal. Adding a personal touch to the email will have a positive influence on your email campaign. When writing, try to have your target group in mind. How would you address them if they were standing right there in a room with you?

For starters, when you want to personalize your emails, it is advisable to use segmentation to separate subscribers in different groups. This is especially important if you have a lot of subscribers. Having a narrower target group allows you to be more focused as you are able to understand the subscribers better. As a result, your communication will be more on point.

Another great way to personalize an email is to address your subscribers by their name. Using a tool for an email campaign can be very helpful in this case because you can use HTML option to directly take the subscriber’s name from the database and add it to the email template.

It is also important to sign the email off with your full name, a job title in the company, and contact details. This also improves the personalization level.

Image: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/1news/chartofweek-02-22-11-lp.htm

Think about localization

More than 70 percent of the internet users are not native English speakers (Source). Apart from the language barrier, the location may also be a relevant part of your email campaign. For example, you might offer a discount in one city, while the same discount is not available in the other cities. When it comes to product prices, they might vary in different countries, or you might feature entirely different websites adjusted to targeting different regions. What it all means is that thinking about location, as well as other cultural aspects, will have a positive influence on your email marketing, allowing you to create a fully custom campaign.

Having your end users in mind is always a good approach to use when building a strategy because your goal is to connect with those users. And the best way to do so is by knowing their interest, needs, etc.

One way you could localize is to use a salutation in a subscriber’s native language, even if the rest of the email is English. Also, try to segment the mailing list based on the location criteria (country, region, city, etc.) to target only the relevant users. This is especially important for local businesses.

Have in mind the message you are trying to convey

Writing a newsletter and a lead nurture email are very different situations and you should not use the same old template for all types of emails. Templates are great as a guideline, but each new email should be something fresh.

The type of email will influence the way you approach the writing process because different types require a different kind of language to be used as their focus is different. While you will get all “salesy” in an email offering a special discount, which is completely natural because the goal is to increase sales, this kind of style and language will not work for a regular newsletter. On the contrary, when writing a newsletter, you will have other goals in mind which will help you define both the tone and the content. For example, if you want to invite the subscribers to read your latest posts, your newsletter content could be a sort of a summary of what they could expect to find on your blog. If you want to encourage them to listen to your latest podcast, try telling a bit more about the topic, what inspired you to choose this topic, will you be joined by a special guest, etc.

Regardless the type, regardless the language, you always have to have a goal in mind. Guided by this goal, you will be able to write a message that encourages actions that will fulfill that goal. This kind of thinking will help you write an email that converts.

Write for the readers

Ultimately, you are writing your email for the readers. There is no specific word count, no must-use words or phrases, no mandatory sections. You write for your readers, and as long as you understand the way they think, you will be able to write a message that addresses them directly. They need to be able to identify with the content, they need to recognize it as an opportunity to benefit from it in a certain way, regardless if they get a free coupon, or simply an advice that will help them in life or business. Provide value for the readers with each message. Not only will this approach help you obtain loyal subscribers, but you will gain diligent readers who are most likely to respond in a way you encourage them to, such as by visiting a website, leaving a comment, buying, etc.

Other tips

Other tips to help you create better emails:

  • Create an exclusive club to make subscribers more eager to join
  • Make recipients feel special by saving some exclusive content and giveaways for email subscribers
  • Make conversation a habit so that you keep nurture the relationship with the subscribers
  • Ask for a feedback to further improve your email marketing
  • Remind subscribers about the products and services you provide
  • Integrate social media to aim at higher reach
  • Say thanks to your subscribers to express appreciation for them following your email updates
  • Hold a high standard to keep building your reputation

All of this together helps you create better emails, emails that are read, emails that convert.

When you first design these elements, you will rely on your prior experience (if you have any) and on the best practices. In both cases, you should always look for ways to be even better, to reach for higher conversion rate. This can be done by meticulous analysis of the performance, detection of the potential issues and corrective actions.