How To Write An Email That Gets Opened, Read And ClickedTuesday, October 22, 2013
So, you’ve heard email marketing yields a high return on investment (ROI)—but no one seems to be opening (let alone reading) your emails. What gives?
The most likely culprit is that your emails just aren’t getting the job done. Crafting an effective email requires strategic planning and persuasive writing. You must write with a specific goal and audience in mind. And it doesn’t hurt to have a good understanding of email marketing best practices.
There’s a lot that goes into crafting the perfect email. To help you with your email campaigns, I’ve put together this handy guide that will help your nonprofit achieve the high ROI you’ve been promised.
Defining Your Goal, Audience and Objectives
The first step in crafting the perfect email is to define your overall GOAL—Why are you sending this email, and what is the desired outcome?
Second, define your AUDIENCE. Who am I sending this to? How will what I’m sending benefit them? What challenges do they face that can be resolved by what I’m offering?
Third, know your OBJECTIVES. These will always be the same, no matter what type of email you’re sending:
- OBJ 1: Get them to open your email.
- OBJ 2: Get them to read your email.
- OBJ 3: Get them to click the call to action link in your email.
Now, let’s talk about how to accomplish each of these objectives.
OBJ 1: Get People To Open Your Email
Your email has a split second to persuade someone to open it, and all of the pressure falls on the subject line. Write a subject line that cuts through the clutter of an overflowing inbox.
Tips for writing a compelling subject line:
- Simple and to-the-point is always better than clever and confusing.
- Include numbers—they jump out at a reader.
- Empathize with your audience’s biggest struggle.
- State the benefit. Explain how whatever you’re offering in your email will improve their life or make them better/faster/smarter at something.
- Skim through your own inbox for subject line ideas. What jumps out at you? What makes you want to open and read an email?
You also need to think about the preheader—the first snippet of text in your message that appears in the inbox view, right after the subject line. A best practice is to lead with a personalized greeting (for example,“Dear Janice…”), because the recipient’s own name will catch her eye.
Who the email is coming from—the sender—can also influence whether or not someone opens your email. Make your email feel more human by sending it from your personal company email address, not a generic email@example.com. People who recognize your name will be more likely to open your email.
OBJ 2: Get People To Read Your Email
Awesome, you’ve persuaded them to open your email! Now your task is to keep them interested in what your email is saying.
As I mentioned above, greet them by name. Speak to one person, not the entire group. “Dear Brad…” sounds a lot more genuine than “Dear Generous Donor…” Also insert the word “you” into your sentences to make them more engaging.
Next, hook them with a killer first line. Here are some ideas:
- State a shocking statistic.
- Express a bold opinion.
- Ask a probing question.
- Address one of their biggest challenges.
Now that you have their undivided attention, write a persuasive message that’s interesting and compelling, but that also economizes on words.
OBJ 3: Get People To Perform The Desired Action
Every email you send should have one primary call to action link, which could be anything from “Read this blog post,” to “Make your end-of-year donation!”
To get people to click your call to action, follow these best practices:
- Place it near the beginning of your email. (According to ExactTarget, people often only read the subject line or the first few lines of an email.)
- Make your call to action stand out with bold or larger text, or with a button.
- If your email is fairly long, include the link twice—at the beginning of your message and right before your signature.
Your emails should also include at least one secondary call to action, such as:
- Social media follow buttons (that link to each of your social media profiles)
- A link to your homepage (usually a hyperlinked image of your logo at the top of the email)
- Something in a PS at the end of your email. The PS is one of the most viewed sections of an email, so include a link to some type of content that supplements your primary call to action. (For example, if your primary call to action is a link to attend an annual event, your PS could include a link to an article about last year’s event.)
Today's blog post provides you with everything you need to know to craft the perfect email. It gives you simple steps for developing a strategy, writing a compelling subject line, engaging readers in your message, and getting them to click your call to action. So the next time you have a need to send an email, consult this guide to make sure you’ve followed the steps and applied the best practices.
You can also download this free list of 27 questions to consider as you compose your next great email!
UP NEXT: Mobile Email Marketing
Nearly half of all email opens are happening on smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, mobile email optimization is often an afterthought with nonprofit organizations. It's time to make mobile email marketing a priority!