7 Strategies for Writing Effective Marketing Emails

Direct email marketing is a huge driver of business. According to HubSpot, “Active email accounts are expected to hit 5.6 billion by 2019” and “99% of consumers check their email everyday.” Basically, everyone is on email every single day.

Email marketing is a critical component to any business strategy.

Since it is so popular, you have to make sure that your marketing emails get noticed, are effective at driving desired action by your readers, and give your brand the right reputation.

Here are 7 strategies to help you do just that!

1.     Segment your list (if possible) – the best content is personalized to the individual’s needs and expectations. If you are able, you should tag or categorize your users based on their preferences. If you offer multiple products or services, try to divide your email list to reflect the differences in functions those products or services fulfill.

Even if you haven’t traditionally done this with your email list, I highly suggest starting now. Any time you add subscribers, think about where you got their contact information. If it was at a conference about health food, make a health/fitness list and add the person to that list and to your “general interest” list.

A low-cost, low-tech required solution to tackling your existing, unsegmented list is that you can also create a survey letting your current general interest list know that you’re working to make sure content is more relevant to their needs. Offer a short, simple survey with at most 5-7 questions that the user can then self-declare their interests.

This will be a bit time consuming (but it’s a great project for an intern), but your subscribers will appreciate the effort you are going to and the results of sending targeted email content will start to show right away. (Hello lower bounce rate and higher conversions!)

2.     Craft a thoughtful, compelling subject line – subject lines are often the only piece of an email most users will read. They are looking for a reason to delete your email.

We all struggle to empty our inboxes so we usually start by scanning the subject lines and deleting anything that we don’t HAVE to read.

Screenshot of an email inbox with subject lines listed.
These subject lines are detailed and even incorporate my name. Personalization is key to effective marketing.

Make sure your subject line is clear, simple, and includes a call to action or reason to open the email. (Use A/B testing with your lists to find out what your audience responds to best if you are unsure.)

Your subject line should have the same call to action as your email. Something like, “10% off, Why Our Sales Manager Quit Cold Calling, 3 Software Solutions you Need to Know About and More” is better than “October Newsletter” because it tells the readers that they get a discount and great insights that will matter to them rather than making the readers guess. It sets expectations and gives the readers multiple reasons to click open.

Screen shot of an email from Canva with an image at the top, a button call to action, follow by two sentences that are their own paragraphs and a bulleted list.
This email I recently received from Canva.com does a great job having a direct, clear call to action and uses lots of white space to help guide the reader to the most important information.

3.     Keep it short and use white space. People will generally read only the first sentence of a paragraph then scan the rest of it before moving to the next point. Make sure to keep your email short (ain’t nobody got time to read a novel) and to use white space to your advantage.

If you have something important to say, make it its own paragraph.

4.     Make everything clickable (or tap-able). Younger audiences will click or tap on your photos, subscribers who are more used to reading and traditional hyperlinks will want to click or tap on your header or “continue reading” link.

Make it easy for everyone. Keep your links consistent but make sure to put them wherever your readers might be most apt to click or tap.

5.     Customize your landing pages. Make sure that you take the time to create unique landing pages for your readers.

This will not only help with your analytics (knowing which referral sources are most effective for you – email, social, search, or direct), but it will also help with Search Engine Optimization and most importantly with your reader’s experience.

Margaret Mead with quote "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."
This photo cracks me up…but in the end, we all DO want to feel special.

People want to be catered to. They want to feel special. Creating a unique landing page that is consistent with your email will make them feel like you care and will take just as good of care of them throughout the buying process.

Add a note that you’re happy they decided to keep reading or welcoming them to your site from your email campaign. Details and effort matter to people.

6.     Keep your emails focused on a single subject.When possible, write your emails about one thing, one call to action, and send them only to the subscribers who need or want that one thing the most.

Having two or more calls to action will likely confuse a good deal of your readers. People don’t like to feel confused. Try to keep your email focused on the needs of your particular audience.

Even with your newsletter, that might have updates, announcements, offers/discounts/specials, staff perspectives…etc. try to keep them focused around a central theme for the month. Keep them consistent from month to month with the same articles located in roughly the same place. Humans like habit and routine. Yes, we enjoy variety, as long as we know to expect it.

7.     Be sure people can unsubscribe easily. When you don’t offer folks a way to unsubscribe, it makes you look like a spammer. You don’t want to be a spammer. You don’t want to be reported as a spammer. You don’t want Google to think you are. You don’t want your brand to be known for mass, unhelpful, spammy emails.

So, make it simple! Be sure whatever email program you use that you allow subscribers to easily unsubscribe from getting your emails.

It will help you both in the long run – in most cases you have to pay per subscriber email address to the fewer emails on your list that never open your email or just delete it off the bat the better for your business. It’s an opportunity to replace it with someone who will need the information you’re providing.

Screenshot of the bottom of an email with "Update Preferences" and "Unsubscribe" listed.
Always give readers a way to manage their account with you. This could include changing the amount of emails they receive, changing the lists they are subscribed to, or unsubscribing entirely. Yelp certainly did a good job with these options at the bottom of their emails.

Bonus pro tip: when people unsubscribe, read the reason they choose to do so (without taking it personally). If you notice that a lot of people unsubscribe after sending a particular email, ask yourself why. Did the content not work for them? Was it confusing? Was the timing off? Take the time to reflect and don’t disregard the value of the feedback you’re receiving even though at first glance it can feel rather negative.

If you follow those 7 strategies to writing marketing emails, you’ll have targeted information that is helpful to your various audiences and creates clear calls to action to drive your business forward. Have you tried segmenting your email lists? What about subject line A/B testing? Please share with me in the comments and we can discuss these tactics further!

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely day. 

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