Stay Out of the Spam Folder with More Effective Email Copy

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As humans, we have learned to have everything in moderation. We eat food in moderation. We drink in moderation. We sleep in moderation. We spend money in moderation.

We do this because we can only handle so much of everything.What we also do in moderation is process information. In a span of 24 hours, on average 55 million status updates are made on Facebook; 500 million tweets are sent; 2 million blog posts are written; and 864,000 hours worth of video are uploaded to Youtube. In addition to these numbers,100 billion marketing emails are sent each day. As individuals, we receive a very small fraction of this total output of information, yet we still find ourselves faced with hundreds, if not thousands, of sources of information competing for our attention every day. Nobody has the attention span, time, or motivation to engage with each of these sources. Instead, we pick and choose which information to engage with based off of a variety of characteristics.

 

Screen_Shot_2014-10-31_at_11.00.38_AMEmail marketing is one of the many sources competing for our attention. Regardless of what you have heard, email marketing is not dying. What is dying, however, are the conventional approaches to engage subscribers. Email marketing is not the luxury that it used to be. Unless you’re like my grandmother who still emails me in excitement every time she opens an email with a “Free iPad NOW!” offer, conventional marketing methods no longer work on consumers. Emptying spam folders and unsubscribing to email lists has become a daily chore for most of us, and this is only expected to increase in the future.

Don’t let your business’s emails end up in your prospects’ spam folders. It’s a dark, cramped place that very few marketers make it back out of. Instead, follow these email marketing tips for creating innovative subject lines, engaging email copy, and other suggestions for ensuring higher open and click-through-rates.

Subject Line

Think of your email’s subject line like a pick-up line you might try out at the bar. This is your first chance to make a positive first impression, and if you mess it up you will probably end up getting trashed shortly after.

Ultimately, you have 50 characters or less to convince your subscribers that your email is worth their time. Your subject line is also going to affect whether or not all the time, money, and effort you put towards your marketing efforts even gets noticed. Regardless of how pertinent or helpful your content, products, or services might be to your subscribers, they are never going to see it if you don’t use a clear, catchy, and actionable subject line.

Actionable Language. Your subject line should use actionable language that specifies what it is the user should do if they do open the email. Words such as “download”, “subscribe”, or “sign-up” are popular ones, but you do not necessarily need to use verbs for it to be an actionable item. Sometimes, it is better to simply imply an action that the subscriber should take. For instance, a subject line such as, “The New iPhone Update You Don’t Want to Miss Out On” implies that you should download this update, and gives off the vibe that you are looking out for them, not targeting them.

Clarity Before Catchy. When writing your subject line, focus on clarity first. Come up with a short and sweet way to effectively communicate what the benefit of your email is. Once you have done this, then you can focus on making it catchy. Do not sacrifice the clarity of your subject line for entertainment purposes. Regardless of how strong your subject line is, subscribers who do not see alignment between your email copy and subject line will be much more inclined to back out of your email, and potentially unsubscribe.

Upworthy’s Method. I suggest trying out a method developed by Upworthy where content writers are required to come up with 25 different headlines and then, as a team, choose which one to use. The same method can be used when selecting the best subject line for your email. This prevents marketers from limiting the potential of their subject line, and avoid settling for the first one that comes to mind. You would be surprised how different, and potentially better, your 25th potential subject line is from the first one you came up with.

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Your subject line can also be tailored according to a specific time of the day. For instance, one Boston bar, restaurant, and nightlife blog, Easter Boston, sent out an email with the subject line “Where to Drink Beer Right Now”. This email was sent around 6:45pm, which is typically considered to be an off-peak hour. However, this is a time of day where co-workers are looking to unwind after a long day of work and are much more likely to be receptive to this type of subject line. Understanding how your subscribers will perceive and act on your emails can lead to a variety of unique solutions for increasing open and click-through rates.

Personable Tone

Today, personalizing emails means more than just using code that addresses your subscribers by their individual names. This has turned into more of a trick than an innovation that marketers use, and people are no longer amused by that alone. There are additional options that you should be adopting for humanizing your marketing emails.

Establish How You Know Them. Hubspot shared an approach that one of their clients used as a means of establishing relevancy and personability with their customers.

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The example email copy above reminds the subscriber of a specific piece of content they obtained from this company, why they are receiving this email, and then what they can do to find more content like it. This act of lead nurturing helps your customers see that you are beginning to understand their interests, and they are more likely to take recommendations from you in the future.

Use Second Person. Also take note of how right off the bat the email is focused on “you”. Writing in second person keeps your business value-oriented by continuously reminding your subscribers that you are here to help them. In general, people love to talk about themselves. In this case, the next best thing is you talking about them. Try to make sure that the amount of “you’s” in your email copy outweigh the number of “I’s” and “we’s”.

Avoid Sales Talk. Another method for acquiring a personable tone in your emails is to avoid directly mentioning a sale or price. Your subscribers are all at different stages of the buying cycle, and if you come off too strong in advertising your products, you are going to lose many prospects in the early stages of their cycle. The safe approach is to assume that your prospects are not yet invested in your brand. Rather than trying to force sales by discussing the features of your product, try focusing more on discussing the benefits. For instance, a feature of the phone you are selling might be that it holds more storage than any other competitor. But, a benefit of your phone would be that consumers can now store entire vacation photo albums on their phones. Doing this makes it sound more like you are selling the product to a friend, not just another customer. This ties back to adding a personable element that reiterates that this is about helping the customer, not the customer helping your business.

Brevity

Now, it’s time to get down to the actual body of your email copy. Keep in mind, brevity is key. Today, 51% of users check their emails on-the-go. You have about as much time as it takes to wait in line for coffee, ride the bus, or stretch at the gym to get them to read through the contents of your email. With that in mind, you should always be keeping your emails short and simple.

Call-to-Action. Similar to what we have discussed in previous articles regarding designing landing pages, you want to get your subscribers to your call-to-action as soon as possible. Your email should have one intended action in mind, and you should be formatting your email to get your viewers from point A to point B as soon as possible. You should reduce distractions in your email by limiting it to one call-to-action. Do not try to get your subscribers to download your ebook, sign up for a free webinar, and buy your newest product all at once. Concentrate on one goal and put all your effort towards getting the viewer to act on it.

Alignment. One of the best ways to ensure your readers keep reading once they have opened your email is to deliver the promise your subject line made. It is very important that you immediately reassure them that they will find what they came looking for. When people don’t find what it is that they were looking for, click-through rates suffer and in the long run, so do open rates. One of the best ways to ensure alignment in your email copy is to avoid over exaggerated promises, such as “Limited Time Offer” or “Tips From the Experts Themselves” unless that is actually true. A lack of alignment typically means a decrease in your business’s credibility, too. If you are going to set high expectations in your subject line, make sure your email body delivers that promise.

Scanning. Scanning refers to the process many of us exhibit when we are trying to decide whether or not an article is really worth our time. Ideally, your subscribers will take the time to read your email start to finish, but that is not always the case. Instead, you can format your email in such a way that it meets the needs of both scanners and thorough readers. Implementing bulleted lists is one way to simplify and shorten the message you are trying to make in your email. Putting key offers and messages in bold is another method for helping those scanning your email understand what it is that you are offering. Additionally, it is true that a picture speaks a thousand words. Using images can both entertain and educate your viewers, so do not underestimate the power of an infographic or other compelling image in your email copy.

Use A/B testing

Like everything in life, you aren’t going to get it right the first time. Writing effective email copy is dependent on how well you test its impact and re-implement new solutions. You should have specific goals in mind for what you want your email marketing to achieve. Are you looking to increase open-rates? Try different A/B tests for your subject line. Are you looking to improve CTR? Try testing out different email templates. Different elements of your email will impact the specific goals you are trying to achieve. Incremental testing will break down how each variable of your email (i.e., subject line, template, body, images, product offering) is influencing your subscribers’ actions.

What methods has your business implemented to ensure more effective email copy? Let us know by commenting below!