Originally posted on 23 Dec 2013

An interesting article earlier this month made the point that it’s hard to make your emails stand out and even harder to convince the reader that your message is worth their time.

Although the article focussed on firms sending out email newsletters, it really applies to all marketing messages sent out by email. It suggests some practices to follow to increase the likelihood that your email messages will be opened and read:

+ Define your goal: As with all things marketing, you need to first define your goal for sending out a newsletter.

+ Focus on your subject line: If it’s not attention-grabbing and helpful, it’ll probably be deleted or not opened at all. For help with refining your subject line, check out www.subjectLine.com for these and other useful tips (you can even check out how effective your proposed subject line is):

  •     Don’t start your subject line with the word “Free”
  •     Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the subject line
  •     Include a sense of urgency
  •     Shorter words are better for readability
  •     Don’t include exclamation points
  •     Keep the subject line to under 35 characters
  •     Don’t use the words “You” or “Your”

+ Are you trying to get the reader to download something: If so, then start with that offer. Whatever your goal is should be the focus of your message.

+ Prioritise:  The average newsletter is scanned in less than 10 seconds once it is opened. Think about what you do when you open a newsletter. People are scanners by nature and we feed on trigger words that peak our interest and draw us in further. Prioritise your content – start with the article, story, or promotion that you think will be the most attractive to your readers, follow with the runner-up, and so on. The small inbox preview of your e-mail should prominently feature the most interesting or most actionable item.

+ Less is more: Make it a rule to only include 3 or 4 different articles, blog posts, or promotional items in your newsletter. Don’t have too much information that makes reading your newsletter seem like a chore. Hyperlinks are your best friend in your email newsletter. Keep links prominent but don’t create a hyperlink with an entire sentence as the anchor text. Pick only a few words for the link’s anchor text that promote a sense of urgency and clearly define a call-to-action.

+ Add an image: Adding small images helps to draw the reader in and break up lines of text to avoid glazing over the newsletter as a whole. Make sure the picture is relevant to the content of your message.

Choose Your Words Wisely: Advice from Mailchimp

Most people quickly scan the subject lines in their inbox before deciding which messages are worth their time and attention. With so much pressure on the subject line to entice the potential reader, we thought it would be interesting to see how much of a difference a single word can make in a campaign’s open rate.

To get some answers, the people at Mailchimp, the popular email marketing programme, studied approximately 24 billion delivered emails with subject lines composed of approximately 22,000 distinct words. If you think that sounds like a lot of data, you’re right. They looked at subject lines both in general and within specific industries. There’s a quick rundown of their criteria and approach, here.

Focus on the subject line

Chris Hexton in Email Marketing says that email subject lines are the gatekeepers of your email campaigns. When you’ve put hours of effort into getting your segmentation just right and even more hours into nailing your awesome email copy, there is no doubt you want to make sure your emails actually get read. Subject lines are the first thing your recipients see in their inboxes. The subject line is given pride of place and many argue that you should spend almost twice as much time reviewing your subject line compared with reviewing the body of your email. That’s a big call…but nailing your subject line really does pays off. Read what he has to say, here.

If you would like a no-obligation free publication from Bizezia: Email Marketing, please contact us at mpollins@bizezia.com

Martin Pollins

Martin Pollins

Managing Director at Bizezia
Martin Pollins is a Chartered Accountant with wide experience in corporate finance and business management. He holds a number of directorships and has served on the boards of several companies, including those listed on the London Stock Exchange, AIM and OFEX.

He was a Council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales from 1988 to 1996.

Martin Pollins ran his own firm based in Sussex and was the first Accountancy firm in the UK to advertise on television and Martin went on to create and launch the CharterGroup Partnership (the UK's first Accountancy network) and then LawGroup UK (one of the largest networks of lawyers in the country).

Martin started work on the Bizezia concept in 1996, developing the broad range of information resources and products over the past 18 years.
Martin Pollins
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