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BEFORE YOU HIT ‘SEND’… 13 STEPS TO EMAILS THAT DON’T SUCK


On the surface, email marketing seems straightforward. Mainly because the people on your list have asked to receive your messages. (You are using an opt-in list, right ? I hope so.)  You have the privilege of interacting with a person in the relatively intimate setting of the recipient’s inbox. It may seem that all you need to do is create a compelling message. However, there are multiple parts in the process of sending an effective email to your audience that won’t get ‘unsubscribed’ immediately. Here’s a checklist to follow.

Entrepreneur, January 2015. Article by Ann Handley

1. SPEND AS MUCH TIME ON THE SUBJECT LINE AS ON THE BODY OF THE EMAIL
The subject line is to the email what the headline is to an article or blog post. The most enticing offer isn’t going to do you a smidge of good if no one opens the email.  The few words in the subject line are the most important words in the message. “The best subject lines use a mix of clear value to the recipient – concise language that’s not too dull or too clever, and an impetus to act,” says Hunter Boyle of AWeber. “What can you say that grabs their interest in mere seconds?”
It helps to think of a problem that your offer or email resolves, then craft the subject line around that. The key to any good content is this: Make it specific enough to be relevant, but universal enough to be relatable.

2.  KEEP IT BRIEF
Emails with subject lines of six to ten words have the highest open rates, yet most of those sent by marketers have subject lines of 11 to 15 words.
“All of us need to challenge ourselves to be brief and pack more power into fewer words,” Boyle says.

3. MAKE IT SMART-PHONE FRIENDLY
Don’t do anything that might render in a strange way on a small screen. The key here is that whatever email provider you use should rely on responsive design .

4. USE SUBHEADLINES
The seven to 10 words in a preview pane at the top of an HTML email are what the recipient will likely see first. Make sure you tailor the language of this subhead to expand on the subject line or explain it a bit further. Use copy here to support your compelling subject line.” says Boyle.

5. BE A REAL PERSON
Write with a point of view-from an actual person to an actual person. I don’t mean this literally: The ‘from’ line might still be your company’s name, but the content should feel as if it comes from a human being,  speaking in the first person (using “I” or “we” and addressing the recipient as “you”), with natural-sounding language.

6. SPECIFY A CALL TO ACTION
Make it as specific as you can-and say it twice within the email body. So instead of a generic “get in touch,” try “get a free 15 minute consult” or “grab your own copy”.
I like how Joanna Wiebe of Victoria, British Columbia-based Copy Hackers described this approach during the Authority Intensive event last year in Denver: “Don”t amplify the act of proceeding, amplify the value of it.”

7. USE COMPELLING IMAGES
Avoid boring, impersonal stock images in favor of unique ones that don’t look like they could appear anywhere else-including a competitor’s newsletter. Sources for stock images that don’t suck include Mountain View, Calif. -based Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that enables digital sharing through free (and Legal!) tools . It’s search function is from numerous free sources-including Flickr, Google Images, and Pixabay-all in one place.
Other image sources: Compfight, Dreamstime, Photo Pin, Freeimages, Public Domain Pictures, Fotolia, Ancestry Images (old and antique prints, maps and portraits) and MorgueFile (gratis if you give credit to the photographer)
In all cases make sure you read the fine print, because there are some restrictions on commercial use.

8. OR USE ANIMATED IMAGES OR A THUMBNAIL/VIDEO LINK
If a picture is worth a thousand words, animated images or videos are even more valuable. You can embed a static thumbnail video image in an email that links to a video on a landing page, or you could create an animated GIF and embed it directly into the email. Various tools allow you to create GIFs-GIFMaker.me, MakeGIF. com – while GIFDeck allows you to turn a SlideShare into a cool, embeddable GIF that’s more compelling than a static page.

9. INCLUDE A P.S.
A post script after the main body can restate an offer, create a sense of urgency or add a bonus. Additionally, a P.S. is a chance to underscore your human, personal approach.
Boyle says, “since the P.S. is the end of the line, use it as a call to action that supports your primary offer rather than introducing an entirely new one. This way , people who skim and scroll right to the bottom still know what the big deal is-and they can act on it. ”

10. INCLUDE FEEDBACK AND FORWARD MECHANISMS
Give your subscribers a way to share the email as well as get in touch-via share, forward-to-a-friend, blog comments, or simple reply.

11. BE SURE YOUR AREN’T TALKING ABOVE YOUR AUDIENCE
Some email providers include a grading or assessment option. You could also use a service such as The Readability Test Tool (read-able.com) which provides document -readability statistics, such as the grade level at which it’s written and how many passive sentiences it contains.

12. VERIFY YOUR LINKS
Click them to be sure they work and go where you want them to.

13. BEFORE PULLING THE TRIGGER, SEND IT TO YOURSELF
The marketing cliche’ “Always be testing” isn’t just for conversion optimization-“it’s a must for your email process”, Boyle says. “We all make mistakes, but having an experienced set of eyes proofreading every send makes a huge difference. Minimizing typos and , even worse, those dreaded ‘oops’ emails, builds confidence in your brand, so make the time!”

NEED ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR COMPANY’S EMAIL MARKETING OR WEBSITE DESIGN?
Creative Instinct can help! Contact gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. Visit our website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.

(Ann Handley’s bestselling new book is Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide To Creating Ridiculously Good Content. @marketingprofs

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