Presentation is everything, or so they say. With this old adage in mind, we’ve compiled our best tips for anyone who wants to send emails that subscribers click into a handy email design guide. We cover each facet of design: content, templates, identity, color, images, layout, fonts, and calls to action. Design is as much science as it is art, and we take the guesswork out of what can seem like the most challenging part of sending good emails.
Give people a way to avoid more emails about the same offer. If you do a concentrated promotion for something, you might send lots of emails about it in a short time. Give people the option to avoid future emails about the offer. Just add a link to the end of the emails (e.g., “If you’re sure you’re not interested in [ offer ], click here, and I won’t send you any more emails about it this year.”). That way you won’t annoy people who aren’t interested in the offer now. You could argue that some of them might buy if they saw all the emails. Well, if you’re only interested in this month’s sales, send as many emails as you can. I just assume you want to have someone left on your list for next month.
Tell subscribers what to expect. Whether you plan to send company updates, letters from the president, e-commerce sales, daily deals, or weekly tips, it's important to tell your readers what to expect and how often to expect it. Give them as much information as possible on your signup form, so they can decide whether they want to be on the list or not.
Purchase (formerly the bottom): This phase should drive the sale, such as a free trial or discount offer. These messages can be much more direct and sales-oriented since these customers have indicated they are closer to a purchase than others. In this phase, it’s important to keep your emails focused on the primary call to action (CTA) and make sure the transaction is as easy as possible. Some companies opt to offer post-purchase set-up assistance or support to help customers move from engagement to purchase.
Location: Businesses that offer local service, such as a lawn service company, obviously need to target local customers, but regional, national, and global companies can also benefit from location-based personalization. Consider running special campaigns for customers in a specified location based on regional events or what’s happening at your local office.
Edit. Even editors need editors. When you're working on your publishing calendar, leave plenty of time for the editing and revision process. Once you send a campaign, it goes straight to the inbox, and you can't go back and update it. Newsletters contain meaningful content, and sloppy ones reflect poorly on the companies who send them. Grammar and style are just as important for email as they are for websites and blogs.
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Send people content they want. Email newsletter services offer features like groups and segmentation to help you make your content relevant to the people reading it. If you're sending different emails for different groups (for example, a nonprofit might send separate emails to volunteers, donors, and the board of directors), then you can ask people to check a box to join a particular group on your signup form. Segmentation allows you to target certain subscribers on your list without assigning them to group. If your store is having a sale, then you could send a campaign only to people near a particular zip code, because subscribers who live in other parts of the world don't need to know about it. You can also segment by activity, email clients, e-commerce data, and more. Sending relevant content will keep your readers engaged, and engaged readers look forward to your newsletter and share it with friends.
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A significant element of email marketing is relationship. Does a recipient trust you? Does a recipient even know who you are? When an email jumps the gun by forcing familiarity too soon, the personalization comes across as skeevy. Intimacy is earned in real life, and it would appear to be the same way with email. Take this example from my inbox; no one has called me lowercase kevan l lee in years.
Take personalization emails a step farther, and you can customize your call to action (CTA). Focus on understanding buyers and how their roles fit within their organizations. For example, a marketing director and a technical director may have entirely different goals and perspectives when they open up your email. If you offer a unique CTA for the two groups, they are more likely to engage with your email and more likely to convert.
For example, I can safely share that I listen to a lot of music, and I’m almost fanatic about sound quality. I might listen to an album with poor sound quality once, but I probably won’t go back to it. And to be clear, 95%+ of new recorded music has what I consider poor sound quality (due to an absurd standard of perceived loudness, which takes away natural dynamic range from the sound). That said, I’m not a hi-fidelity sound geek. I’m perfectly happy with my high-end studio monitors—I don’t buy $1,000 power cables, $5,000 CD-players, or $20,000 loudspeakers capable of playing back sounds too high for dogs to hear.
The Preheader references the area before the main content. It's an excellent opportunity to grab a bit of extra pre-content web real estate. It's got a degree of prominence in the inbox, so it would be a waste not to use it for promotional purposes. Try popping a couple of links in here. Some companies find that they get the most clicks on links within their preheader
Be friendly. Feel free to use a casual tone in your email newsletters. Since most emails come directly from one person, people expect human voices in their inboxes. There's a good chance your subscribers are already in a informal frame of mind when they're checking their email, so an overly formal or stodgy voice might seem out of place. Plus, they've given you their email address, so you're already on a first-name basis. If you collect first names on your signup form, you can dynamically include them in your email greetings.
Personas provide a multi-dimensional method of targeting. They’re based, as the name suggests, on a projected persona for each customer ‘type’. Get it right, and personas can help you enormously in both predicting behaviour and personalising your communications. Personas are a powerful technique, and they’re increasingly used to improve the usability and customer centricity of communications.