How to Create Emails More Of Your Audience Will Read

Ever since email became one of the main ways businesses keep in touch and share ideas with their target audience, it’s gotten tougher to get your emails opened, let alone read.

Recipients delete them. They set up filters and mass-delete them at a later time. They preview them, sometimes without images, and in a split second decide if your earnest  efforts to share information are simply a thinly-disguised attempt to push products.

So what’s a well-meaning distributor to do? Follow best practices – with your personal and “blast” emails.

Don’t Toy With Subject Lines. An oddball subject line might result in a lot of opens at first. But once buyers realize your subject line has nothing to do with the content of your email they’ll feel duped, and may stop opening your emails. Your job, in 8-9 words, is to show recipients why opening your emails is worthwhile. (FYI: In December, as reported in the Q3 2011 North America Email Trends and Benchmarks Results by Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association's Email Experience Council, the average B2B open rate for email was 23.8%. For more highlights from this report, click here.)

Make A Point. Pictures of products – even if new, unusual, or on special -- don’t make a point. Ideas on how to use promotional merchandise to say thank you, congrats, we’re glad you joined, and so on, make a point. HubSpot said it simply in The Ultimate How-To Marketing Guide. Before sending your next email, ask yourself “Why is this going to be valuable to the person I am sending it to?”

Include a Call To Action. Make sure each email includes a Call To Action (CTA), indicating what you want recipients to do (e.g., download a decorating guide, redeem a special offer). Place your CTA at the top and bottom of your email to ensure it gets noticed.

Make It Personal. When buyers see your name in the “from” field of their Inbox – not just the name of your company -- they’re more likely to open your email. In the email itself, they expect to see your direct-dial phone, personal email address and, ideally, a professional-quality headshot. This is an important step towards strengthening your relationship. Your message should also incorporate your personal style. If you’re funny or bubbly over the phone or in person, your email voice should mirror your personality. The more personal your message the more memorable it will be.

Make it Easy to Follow. You’ve seen your share of emails that “scream” so many ideas you don’t know where to look. If you find yourself creating that kind of email, stop! Start over! Limit the content of each email to two or three ideas with supporting details. Set up the copy and graphics so they flow down the screen. And make certain your message doesn’t confuse, overwhelm or turn off prospective buyers.

Other best practices to abide by are designed to improve the overall effectiveness of your email campaigns. The Internet & Marketing Report stresses these in particular:

‘Click here to unsubscribe’ – The CAN-SPAM Act says you’ve got to provide a simple way to unsubscribe, and your unsubscribe link must be obvious.

‘Add us to your safe sender list’ ­- To increase delivery to your email inbox, remind recipients how to add your “From” email address into their safe sender list.

‘Refer a friend’ - Make it easy to share your message by including a “Forward to a Colleague” link with an incentive to encourage recipients to spread the word.

Finally, accept that the goal of an email isn’t to sell as many Thingamajigs on special at the time. View each email as one step of your online marketing mix, and part of your overall plan to entice buyers, over time, to choose you over your competition.