Like everything else online email has changed as technology has improved. Here I list some elements that contribute to an effective email. Some are basics that are simply best practice, others are an opportunity to make the most of advances online.
1. The subject line
This is the very first part of the email your readers will see. It’s sole job is to get a prospective reader to open your email. Therefore they should find it relevant and intriguing. It must also reflect the content they are about to read. People soon learn not to act on promises that are not delivered.
2. Writing Style
Write your email as if it was a letter to a friend. Let your personality show through in your writing. You’re trying to make a connection with your reader, not present an impersonal article in a magazine. Get this right and your readers will look forward to your next email and be eager to see what’s inside.
3. Responsive Design
Your readers are using all types of devices these days. They could be sitting at a desktop, relaxing with a tablet, or on the move with a smartphone. Present your email in a way that means they have to pinch and zoom or that has poor layout and they’ll be less inclined to read what you have to say. Use responsive design that displays your messages correctly no matter which device they are using.
4. Visual Elements
Faster technology and greater capacity means you can include images and video, making your email that much more interactive and interesting. You may already have received an email with a countdown timer that is acually counting down within the email. Think about how that engages the reader more than a piece of text telling them there’s just a couple of hours to go before an offer ends.
5. Personalise and brand
Most emails you receive are based on a template provided by an autoresponder company. Think about how you can personalise and brand your messages to stand out from the crowd. It could be a unique signature, a tag line you use in every email, a logo, or something else that makes your emails instantly recognisable.
If you segment your list correctly your readers will be receiving messages that appear designed to address their needs and problems. People receive too many emails in a day to be bothered with someone who emails them daily but only sends something relevant to them once a month. Design your early email sequence to help isolate what your reader really wants to read about, and then send them the messages relevant to that interest.
7. Respond to metrics
Change the content and layout of your emails to see how your readers view them. Position clickable links near the top and bottom of your email and see which ones perform best. You may find most of your readers click on the top link, which could imply most of them use a preview pane to read their emails. Over time you will be able to design your messages based on how people view and interact with your emails.
Get the above email elements right and you’ll increase your chances of success with your email campaigns.
There are a couple of other areas that could be improved, though they are not directly related to your email content. One is how well your list building process gets your target audience to subscribe, including the ‘ethical bribe’ and landing page you use, and the other is the resources you link them to via your emails. Both will have an effect on the success of your emails.