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How to Craft the Perfect Email

How to Craft the Perfect Email

by John Jantsch

Some small business owners are intimidated by email marketing. Having to write an individual email is scary enough if you don’t consider yourself a writer. The thought of sending an email out to an entire mailing list can be downright terrifying!

Fortunately, the perfect email is about more than just writing. And even for the written elements, once you’ve figured out the essential components, it’s easy for even those more timid writers among us to excel.

Here are the steps that go into crafting the perfect email.

Start with a Strong Subject Line

According to Campaign Manager, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day. That’s a lot of activity in just one inbox, and it means that you need to do something from the start to catch your readers’ eyes.

This starts with a strong subject line. There are a number of approaches you can take to make sure your subject line stands out. Consider including one of the following elements:

  • Create a sense of urgency – “Sale ends TONIGHT at 9pm”
  • Make an offer they can’t refuse – “Free shipping on orders of $25 or more”
  • Pique their interest – “What’s the secret to maintaining a healthy lawn?”
  • Provide value – “5 Tips for Hosting the Perfect July 4 BBQ”

An eye-catching subject line just might include an emoji, too. Of course, including emojis won’t be the appropriate choice for all businesses, but for some it can be a fun way to stand out in a text-heavy inbox.

Personalize the Message

There are a few steps that go into personalizing email messaging. You should begin by segmenting your lists. By breaking your customers and prospects down into groups based on demographics (like age, location, or gender) or by behavior (past purchases, most recent interaction with your brand, etc.) you can target different subsets of your population with messaging that will be most relevant to them.

This doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel for each variant, but there are little steps you can take to tweak the messaging to best appeal to each group. Let’s say you own a landscaping business. You’re offering a big start of the summer promotion; anyone who schedules regular yard work appointments at the start of the summer will get 10 percent off each session.

This is great news for all of your customers, but you can tailor the messaging based on how you’ve segmented your list. Let’s say you’ve broken your list down by types of services those customers currently receive. For those who take advantage of your gardening services, make the messaging about how you’ll keep their flowers in bloom all season long, for a fraction of the price. For those who use your lawn mowing services, the email can say something like “The only thing better than the smell of fresh-cut grass is saving 10% off your lawn care services this summer.”

To further personalize the messages, take advantage of merge tags, which allow you to include the name of the recipient in the greeting, rather than a generic “Hey there.”

Write Smart Body Copy

This is where those non-writers start to get intimidated. What is good copy, anyway? Really it’s about being concise, clear, and helpful.

Keep sentences short, eliminate jargon and technical speak, and make it very clear what you’re offering in your email. Because we do all get so many emails each day, no one has time to sit down and read a thousand word email. Keep it to 250-500 words maximum, and devise ways to draw attention to the most important keywords. This can be as simple as bolding relevant text or including an image that draws the viewer’s eye to the most critical part of the message.

If you’re feeling shaky in your copywriting skills, check out this list of dos and don’ts.

Incorporate Elements Beyond Text

Creating the perfect email is all about standing out from the crowd. And what better way to do that than to add elements beyond text? A stunning photo, an informative infographic, or a quick video are all ways to add other media into your messaging.

If you’re going to go this route, set it up with a brief sentence or two, and then let the media speak for itself. If needed, include captions on images so that viewers have more context. Videos should also include subtitles, so that those viewing in a place where they can’t turn their volume up can still grasp the content (a service like Rev can help you with your transcription needs).

End with a Call to Action

Once you’ve dazzled your readers with relevant, personalized content and exciting visual elements, it’s time to bring it on home. One simple, clear call to action that’s tied in with the rest of the email is the way to do that.

If your email was about a sale going on right now, include a “Shop the sale” button that takes readers to your e-commerce site. If your email was an offer for a free ebook, end with a “Get the book” link. Whatever the case may be, make sure that the call to action flows with the rest of the email content and is set apart visually so that readers can’t possibly miss it.

And Don’t Forget the Unsubscribe Option

Last but not least, you want to give your readers a chance to unsubscribe. Not only is it the lawto give folks a chance to opt-out of your marketing messaging, it can also help you maintain a clean email list. When your email is going directly to spam folders or getting deleted without being opened week after week, that puts you at risk of being punished by ISPs. A clean email list, with higher open rates and fewer people marking you as spam, ensures that your messaging is ending up in the inboxes of your most engaged subscribers.

Once you get the hang of creating compelling marketing emails, you must keep it up! Staying in regular contact with your subscribers is the best way to remain top-of-mind, so establish a cadence for your email marketing and stick to it.

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