10 steps to writing emails that deliver results

Angela Munroe shares 10 tried and tested techniques to give your emails the best chance of success

Your data is good. You know who you’re targeting. And you know you’re offering something your market wants. So don’t let a poorly written email spoil all your hard work. Here are some suggestions on how to write emails that will deliver results for your business.

1. Start strong

The subject line is the first thing that will convince us to open (or ignore) an email. Make it short, clear, relevant and persuasive. Front-load it by putting the most compelling point first. This prevents your recipient’s email programme from cutting off the important bit.

2. Tell them something they don’t know

Don’t tell a retail business the challenges facing their sector, or over-explain technology to an IT professional – they live it every day. Give people answers. Put yourself in their shoes and ask ‘What’s in it for me?’ If you can personalise, then do so. It nearly always leads to better opens and click-throughs. Send the emails from a real person rather than a faceless company email address too.

3. Get to the point

Short is good. Your readers will thank you – it saves them time. Choose a strong headline that summarises your email and don’t try and be too clever with it. Once you’ve written your email, read your first sentence again. Do you really need it? You’ll be amazed by how often you don’t.

4. Be mobile-friendly

The latest stats from emailcenter suggest that 43% of UK consumers regularly access email on their smartphones, so make sure your email is smartphone-friendly. Using a pre-header is a good way to do this. A pre-header is the third line down when you view an email in the preview panel on your smartphone. It helps to increase open rates by showcasing more of what’s in the email.

5. Ditch the jargon

Nobody likes acronyms. Everyone hates marketing and management speak. And most people avoid inflated promises. Avoid making claims that you can’t instantly justify, and always lead with the benefits.

6. Use active language

Active language is more likely to engage your audience than passive language. Try “Peter Smith completed our survey” rather than “our survey was completed by Peter Smith”. Think, “You can save 46% …” not “Our solution could save you…”

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7. Design

Use images sparingly. They are slow to load on mobile devices and need to be ‘enabled’ to be seen in many email clients. Try to put them towards the bottom of the email or to one side. If your headline is within a banner image use alt tags: it means if the pictures don’t load, the reader can still see the text.

8. Links

Avoid crowding them and try not to use more than three in one email. Use explanatory link copy, i.e. ‘Take part in our survey’ – only hyperlink the words ‘click here’ if it’s clear where the reader is being taken.

9. Call to action

Try to keep it to one, make sure it’s obvious, and spell out why the person should go to the effort. As an alternative, offer to call them, or invite them to reply to the email or click through to a relevant landing page. And always make sure a phone number is clearly visible.

10. Test and adapt

Test sending emails at different times, on different days and with different subject lines and approaches. Evaluate the results and change your emails as a result.

Do these tips work for you? I’d love to hear ideas and experiences and share them with other small businesses. Please tweet me at @AngelaDMunroe

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