You deserve to understand the big picture of email marketing. That’s why we’ve been discussing elements of it weekly – what it is, why it matters, how it works and even giving you some ideas. Now we want you to know how exactly to write an email that will be opened, read and loved.
What would it look like if every email you send out gets high open rates and high click-through rates?
Maybe it would mean more visitors to your online store, or more follows on social media. The possibilities are endless!
So now you know that email marketing is an effective way to grow your business. You know that email is a great way to build and nurture relationships with your audience.
But let’s get to the specifics. How do you write emails that people will open and love?
There are three main things we are going to cover in this blog to help you concoct the perfect email to send to your audience.
Here’s a fun fact – did you know that the average time people are spending reading a promotional email has INCREASED between 2011 and 2016?
According to the data, the average time spent reading an email has increased by 7% to 11.1 seconds. And, to make things even more promising for your email marketing content, the number of people willing to spend 18 seconds reading an email increased from 38.4% in 2011 to 44.4% in 2016.
Why – in a world where the average attention span for websites and social media are decreasing – has our attention span grown when it comes to our email inboxes?
Okay, thanks for theorizing here for a minute with us.
If people are spending more time than ever reading their emails, how do you make sure that someone gives 18 precious seconds of their time to read your words?
As we outlined at the beginning, this has a lot to do with:
We want to help you craft the perfect email that has a high open-rate, so we’re going to do a deep dive into each of these three points.
If you just want to take one single tip away from this blog, here it is quick and easy:
Write. Good. Subject. Lines.
Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time crafting the perfect email to send to your list. What’s the last thing you do? You throw together a subject line and hit send. The problem is if you don’t write an effective subject line, no one will actually read your thoughtful email!
Now don’t get us wrong, simply showing up in their inbox is still powerful, whether or not they open it, because it builds awareness through consistency. (If your business name shows up in their inbox regularly, they will think of you when they are facing a problem that you can solve. That’s why we preach consistency in email marketing!)
But the next thing to do is to give someone a good reason to open your email. Here are some tips on how to write a great subject line:
Research shows that the most effective subject lines are around 20 characters long. This could be in part because long sentences will get cut off in the preview (especially as 46% of all emails are opened on a mobile device).
This means you need to make every word count. Our favourite phrase when it comes to our work is “write freely and edit ruthlessly.” Write out a number of potential subject lines and then edit, edit, edit.
For example, we really like how clear and pithy this one is:
“3 Rules That Changed My Life” (Ramit Sethi of I’ll Teach You To Be Rich).
Every member of your audience has invited you into their space. That is a privilege you want to respect, so be sure to send emails that are relevant, timely and have a purpose. Same goes for your subject line. Write your subject line to clearly introduce the main point of your email.
We always love how Whole Dog Journal’s emails get right to the point:
“Help Your Dog Reach His Full Potential” (Whole Dog Journal).
We are big fans of storytelling. Email messages that tell a story will always win in a world full of noise and distraction. This goes for your subject lines too. When you open a story loop, you intrigue the reader and leave an opening that can only be closed when the email is read.
“I emailed my hero and here’s what happened” (Jenna Kutcher).
Ohhh what happened? They say never meet your hero, but maybe Jenna proved them wrong!
Do you see how opening a story loop in a subject line makes it more compelling?
Do This: next time you write an email to your list, set a timer for five minutes. Spend that five minutes writing out subject lines. If you dedicate time specifically to crafting an effective subject line, rather than slapping one in and hitting send, we promise your email will be seen by more people.
Chances are your reader gets a lot of emails. One thing you can do to set your email apart from the others is to add an emoji to your subject line or use different fonts or creative spacing so it doesn’t blend in with the other emails in their inbox. What subject line stands out to you more?
“Sale! 25% off all merch”
“S A L E! Get 25% off today”
Consider what’s appropriate for your brand, and then go from there. Maybe one week an emoji is appropriate, and the next week it’s not. That’s okay! Always be observing your audience’s reactions and see if you notice if you see a difference in your open rates.
We’ve said it before, but email is a long game. Yes, one bomb-ass sales sequence can absolutely grow your business fast – but building a list and getting people to trust you can take time. Know that being in your reader’s inbox is the first step in growing your business.
So, how do you build relationships? Follow these tips.
You wake up as the main character in your story, and so does your reader. Make sure you write emails with a focus on your customer. Think about the last great date you went on (romantic or friend!). They probably asked you questions, responded thoughtfully to your situations and maybe they even said really nice things about you. The same goes for building relationships with your readers. Talk to them, not about you.
Use the tools that your email provider has to create segments and lists that you can talk to differently than your general list. You want to get specific to their customer journey. For example, if they downloaded a lead magnet or purchased an item or service, follow up with them about that topic. Send them other merch they might be interested in based on their purchase.
There are a lot of marketers who would disagree with this, but we think they are wrong (and kind of misled in their ideas of how abundance is created). Scarcity is often used as a marketing tactic to pressure (or even bully) people into buying. This is not how we operate. We believe that there is enough for everyone. That the community formed around a brand has value outside of their spending power. That people know whether or not this is the right time for them to purchase. We’ve built our business on the idea of holistic marketing, we strongly believe that people see right through gross tactics of guilt, shame and scarcity. People are smart and our marketing should treat them with the respect they deserve. There are much more effective ways to make a sale using methods that make your reader feel good and excited about their purchase.
Last time we checked, you are a human, writing to another human. You are not being graded by your high school English teacher (though we always recommend a keen copy editor). Give yourself permission to speak conversationally. It will make people feel more comfortable, and your emails will be more enjoyable to read!
Make sure your email is part of a strategy! Marketing works as a system. Is the email part of a nurture sequence? Is it overcoming an objection in your sales sequence? Is it part of a product release runway? You should have a reason for emailing. Remember, people are busy and are reluctant to give out fourth and fifth chances. If they sense that you wrote an email without any purpose or without any intention of giving them value, they’ll feel as though their time has been wasted.
How to form an email strategy could be a blog post in itself. Really, it could be an entire course. But for now, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Here’s what we’ve learned about writing good emails:
Subject lines that capture attention and emails that keep attention.
Using language that makes your audience feel seen, heard and comfortable.
Having a strategy that will make each customer feel like you’re right there beside them throughout their entire customer journey.
Use these points as you sit down to write your next email. (Or your next 15 emails if you like batching your work!)
We thought we’d also leave you with a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you edit after you write your next email: