Lately, if you’ve noticed your inbox swelling with commercial emails while your level of consumption remains the same, you’re not imagining things. Email has come to dominate digital marketing. It’s not surprising considering the following:
- Marketers like to go where customers hang out, and common folk use email at least once a day.
- Email generates information about customer ZIP codes, gender, and income, providing invaluable fodder for targeting.
- Email can be measured variably by open, click-through, and conversion rates—that is, by level of engagement.
And the cherry on the royal sundae: Email delivers ROI of up to $44.25 for every $1 spent on email—that’s 4,300%.1
Royal Habits to Get Into
There’s been a huge push for the idea that “content is king,” but now it’s time to bow down to King Email. Apply these tips, and you can set yourself apart from spammers and likely rack up conversions.
Craft short, vivid subject lines
A crisp value proposition or topic teaser in 37 characters or fewer (including spaces) commands attention and is short enough to be viewed on most mobile readers. This is important since 50% of emails are read on mobile devices.2 (Ironically, only 11% of emails are optimized for mobile,3 and 69% of mobile users delete emails that aren't optimized for mobile.4 Talk about lost opportunity.)
If you must surpass the 37 character limit, frontload the important terms in your subject line so they don’t get cut off.
Use sentence caps, whether or not you’re forming a sentence. It’s the idea presented through use of concrete nouns and verbs—not capitalization—that determines traction. Skip the end punctuation unless your subject line looks off without it.
Avoid using ALL CAPS, exclamation points and splashy (overly salesy) language. The average customer would like to think of himself or herself as a reader rather than a customer. Be direct.
Vary subject line syntax. In other words, keep it interesting. Some different approaches: a reason why, a benefit, a question, a testimonial, a how-to, news, a list, insider information, a teaser, a seasonal topic, a command, urgent information… to name a few.
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Apply a distinctive human voice to your email message.
Word choice is critical for promoting listening and trust—in fact, it really makes or breaks your engagement. Words impart your brand personality, imbue warmth, clearly inform and substantiate promises, inflect subtle meaning, and ultimately drive action. Read your copy out loud to make sure it’s something you would say to a person, face to face. If it makes you cringe, rewrite. Remember that at the heart of every email is one human speaking to another.
Provide quality content.
By doing so, you can answer customers’ needs, show you respect their time, promote their trust, and give them something shareable—amplifying the love and loyalty. To be clear, quality content doesn’t mean voluminous content. People only spend 15 to 20 seconds reading. Keep the copy short and meaty, and intersperse graphics to provide visual context and substance.
Make it actionable, every time.
After reading your friendly, informative email—or even partway through—your reader may be inclined to take action. This is your opportunity to move the dial. Make sure to include a distinct call to action (CTA) button or text link high in the message so they can’t miss it. Your CTA might be “Register now,” “Read the story,” “Buy now,” “Contact us,” or any number of prompts that move the engagement along. For best results, require only one click to take action.
Feel ready to blast your latest message over email? Not so fast. Check back soon to meet the queen: optimized user experience.
Natasha Petroff is a senior copywriter at Kitterman Marketing with 15 years of experience across technology, higher education, nonprofit and other realms. Her marketing philosophy is centered around value—that is, promote the true value of products and services in a clear, open voice, and business will follow. The day job: applying that approach to every piece of work, flexing to meet each project’s needs, and stretching to beat the latest record for quality.