Marketing Director at Sunshine Group, developing and guiding promotion strategies for the company’s brands.
I’ve already shared some thoughts about winning email subject lines, and today it’s time to talk about the message itself — how it can motivate a subscriber to take the action you’re counting on.
A 2019 report on global shopping trends found that 62.9% of consumers prefer to receive news and updates from companies through emails. What’s more, email marketing is reported to trigger more expensive online purchases when compared to other traffic sources such as social media and direct search results.
Needless to say, a well-composed email is an exceptionally powerful instrument to encourage your subscribers to make a move. So, is there anything you can do to help them take a leap of faith?
Here are the five strategies I’ve tested and keep on following when creating action-inspiring newsletters for our brands’ audiences.
1. Make it short.
While composing an email, a marketer’s goal, obviously, is to come up with a piece of text that won’t be abandoned halfway through. This is why it’s crucial to keep to the point and focus the reader’s attention on the main reason you’ve sent the email.
Make the text 80 to 100 words long. For most devices, that should let the reader see the whole message at once, without scrolling down, so they can grasp your idea quickly.
This is especially important if your message announces a new article and links to its full version on your website. Two long reads at a time — the email and the article itself — are definitely too many.
Key advice: Treat the first screen of your message (both desktop and mobile version) as high-priced advertising space, and don’t waste it on long preambles and other inessential things.
2. Make it well structured.
Develop your emails for readers who are pressed for time. They should be able to single out the core message in seconds and grasp the topic of the article you’re announcing or the benefit of the offer you’re making.
That’s why bulleted lists appear in our emails so frequently. We outline the contents of the articles and videos we’re aiming to share, explain the essence of the new products we’re rolling out and, in general, present the important information in an easy-to-consume way.
Key advice: Include a short introduction, a brief bulleted list and a culminating call to action (CTA) in your email. In my corporate experience, this structure is best for triggering the expected reaction and preventing readers from information overload.
3. Include a straightforward call to action.
What do you want your email readers to do? Should they go over to your website to buy a new product, watch an explainer video or register for a webinar?
Define the exact action you want readers to take, and don’t distract them from it with unnecessary information or excessive outbound links. Instead, choose only one target link to be included in the email body (or at least in its main block).
Key advice: If there’s an offer or some special news that’s unrelated to this particular email’s content, but still relevant to your audience, place it in the bottom part of the message after the final call to action.
4. Reserve a special place for this ‘extra’ section in your email layout.
There might be an array of reasons for a marketer to include multiple pieces of information in an email, such as featured videos, related articles, guides, etc.
So, if there are supplementary resources you’d like to link to in your email, consider creating a message template that allows it without leading the readers to become sidetracked. At the end of our newsletters, for example, you’ll always find two additional blocks dedicated to complementary reading materials and discounts valid for a specific company product.
Key advice: Use this section to remind the reader about promotions and special offers (if you have any). This way, they will stay visible and potentially action-stimulating, but not overly pushy, annoying or distracting.
5. Consider using visual elements.
There are numerous factors — a company’s niche, subscribers’ reading preferences, even the quality of their internet connection — that have a direct impact on your email’s design. In our case, for example, messages containing built-in images usually show a much lower click rate compared to text-only messages.
One day, we decided to decorate our newsletters with big and catchy headers that made emails much more attractive, but this caused an almost 50% decrease in traffic and sales. The reason was simple: We found that most of our Gmail users keep images in their inboxes switched off, so they only saw blank spaces with alt texts instead of our carefully designed headers. And as I’ve mentioned above, the first screen of a message should be treated as premium advertising space, so we definitely can’t afford to waste it this way.
To drive the readers’ attention to the desired parts of the text, we ended up highlighting them with specific font styles and colors, using emojis now and then, and adding colored buttons as the final calls to action within the emails.
It doesn’t mean, however, that we reject the whole idea of embedding images into newsletters. Some niches (such as apparel, design, tourism, cooking, etc.) are unimaginable without great visuals, so what did not work for our business may do miracles for yours.
Key advice: Conduct a series of split tests to identify the best type of email design for your marketing purposes. Even minor alterations, such as writing a phrase in bold or in all caps or using different font colors, can change the overall look of your email significantly and shift the reader’s attention.
These are the five core principles I personally use while dealing with newsletter creation on a daily basis, and I hope these tips will make a difference for your email marketing efforts as well!
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