People don’t get nearly enough email these days.
Sorry, that was a bad first draft. What I meant to say was, people don’t get nearly enough useful email these days. If you’re anything like me, your inbox is a nightmare. Mine is clogged with junk mail from lists that I signed up for, but I have no interest in actually reading.
I see these messages pile up, day after day, and I think, “Hmmm…I wanted to read that, didn’t I? I’m interested in that topic. But, nah, not today. I just don’t have time.”
Then I select all and mass delete hundreds of hours of some poor writers’ work without even peeking at the opening lines. All those words just eaten up by my little trash can icon. I know. It’s sad.
But there are a few email campaigns that I always open. The subject line catches my eye because it is interesting, clear, and well-written. And I know from experience that these emails will contain information or resources that I want, and that they’ll be well-written. (You might have guessed that quality writing is important to me.)
Many businesses use email marketing to sell their products and services, and it can be wildly effective. In fact, email is the third most trusted source of information for B2B (business to business) folks, behind only colleague recommendations and industry experts. And 59 percent of B2B marketers say email is their most effective tool for generating revenue. The trick is, you have to send great emails to the right people.
Email Marketing Tips
So what makes the difference between a clickable, readable email and one that’s, well, not? Here are my seven best email marketing tips for writing lyrical masterpieces that will sing out to your subscribers. (Or at least get them to click.)
1. Always have a goal.
If you’re emailing your subscribers, you should have a reason. What is it that you’re hoping to accomplish? You need a specific call to action. Do you want to generate leads? Sell a product or service? Get donations for your charity? Whatever the goal, each email should lead the recipient toward that call to action, even if it does so indirectly.
2. Give them what they want. For free.
Even though your ultimate goal may be to close sales, you can’t make every email “salesy.” Make sure that at least 4 out of every 5 emails is informational. Give your subscribers useful content about subjects that interest them. Save the sales pitches for that other 20 percent of your messages.
3. Write to an audience of one.
Do you enjoy reading corporate announcements aimed at the entire population of internet users? Neither do your subscribers. This might sound controversial to some writing purists, but I’m strongly in favor of writing in the second person, singular. (That’s “you” to my non-language nerds.) Write as if you’re talking to just one person.
“Here’s a great playlist for your next long run.” “You’re going to love the new look of our website.” “You won’t care about cake and ice cream once you try our recipe for birthday fruit cobbler.”
This allows your readers to feel like the message was meant just for them. Of course, they’ll know that they’ve received the same email as hundreds of other people. But it’s much more interesting to read an email that speaks directly to you than one that feels like a megaphone announcement to a crowd of disinterested “prospects.”
4. Clickable subject lines. Not clickbait.
A list of email marketing tips wouldn’t be complete without some info on subject lines. Great email subject lines are irresistible to click. The best ones have at least a few of the following characteristics:
- Short and punchy. Sixty-five characters seems to be the ideal that will drive the most opens.
- Urgent. If the subject tells you that the information inside is time sensitive, you’re more likely to open it.
- Interesting. Make sure your audience knows that the email pertains to a niche topic that they want to learn more about.
- Honest. If the subject line promises something, your email better deliver it. Never use “clickbait” subject lines that tricks your subscribers into thinking they’re getting something valuable if they’re not. This will only make people angry, and that unsubscribe button is super easy to click.
5. Send emails regularly.
Many business owners assume that their customers don’t want emails from them. I get it. Remember, I’ve got an overflowing inbox too. I know you probably fear that too many emails will result in an immediate unsubscribe. This fear isn’t entirely unfounded. That unsubscribe button is right there, and “too many emails” is one of the most common reasons people give for leaving a list.
But your email list can’t do anything for you if you don’t use it. The whole purpose of email marketing is to keep your company on your subscribers’ minds. They may not be ready to purchase from you now, but when they are, you hope that they’ll be thinking about you. The only way to accomplish that is to communicate with them on a regular basis. What’s regular? A minimum of once a month, but once a week is better.
6. Find your voice.
Write your emails in your natural voice so that your personality shines through. You’ll know this is working when someone can read an email and know it’s from you without looking at the sender name.
7. For God’s sake, don’t be boring.
OK, this last one is a little non-specific, but I’ll bring it home. Boring writing sucks. Nobody cares enough about any topic to slog their way through some aloof, high-school 5 paragraph essay that sounds like it was written to prove to your English teacher that you really are a big kid now. Boring emails use lofty, hundred-dollar language. They follow composition rules to the letter, contain ridiculously long sentences, and sound like the dispassionate speech of a DMV clerk.
Here’s how to not be boring:
- Use short sentences. Fragments, even. If you read through my blog, you’ll find tons of them. Bullet points are also good for breaking things down into digestible chunks.
- Empathize with readers by giving personal examples of the problem you are offering to solve.
- Use vivid imagery to illustrate details.
- Tell a story.
- NO PASSIVE VOICE. When passive voice is used, the writing is made to sound bland. (Did you just yawn and drift off too? Don’t let this happen to your readers. Active sentences only.)
Ready to Start Your Email Marketing Campaign?
I hope you found these email marketing tips useful. To help you out even more, I’ve created this free email marketing template. It has a planning tab for plotting out a month’s worth of email topics, subject lines, and marketing data. There is also an email sample tab, with free, customizable, sample emails. You can feel free to use these as a jumping off point to create your own email marketing campaigns.
Or if you’d rather not have to do all the work yourself, shoot me an email. I am a freelance writer for hire, and I’d be happy to help you build a successful email marketing campaign!
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