Email marketing is one of the in-vogue techniques in the online marketing world. Over time, it has turned out to be one of the best ways to interact with one’s audience, keep them informed and share updates. When people share their email addresses with you, a website administrator, they expect to receive something valuable in their inboxes. Repetitive or uninformative emails might make them unsubscribe, which will hamper your business. Your emails—and this is key—need to be relevant to your audience. Maintain quality of content as well as quality of presentation to both attract and keep an audience.
You are not the only competitor in your business or the only one following email marketing. There are thousands like you. Your audience members might be receiving an endless number of emails on the same topic and that provide almost the same information. They might just be moving your email to the trash, unread. Although your emails provide informative content, they fail to serve their purpose if your audience doesn’t see any of it.
We’ll discuss the techniques you can use to improve your emails and make them serve their purpose: to interact with your audience.
When you receive an email, only the subject line and the sender’s name are visible; the content isn’t. Make these elements as strong and attractive as possible so recipients will be more likely to open the email. Your email’s header should grab attention and urge recipients to open it and not just delete it. Every email program displays the header parts, and they help recipients separate important emails from unimportant ones. Headers include information about who an email is to, from and about, and the “from” line can identify a trustworthy sender; you want that to be you. Let’s talk about headers and how to optimize them.
Note, also, that email headers look different on mobile screens than they do on computer screens. Mobile email programs allow only parts of senders’ header information to be displayed, and it’s not possible to control all the information in the header—but you can control (and manage correctly) the three elements of email headers: the “from” line, the “from” address, and the subject.
The “From” Line
The “from” line is the text that mentions the sender’s contact information. It tells the recipient who and where an email comes from.
Most people decide whether or not to view an email based on the “from” line. Before creating your “from” line, ask yourself how you relate to your audience. For one thing, do you connect with them through your personal name or your company’s name?
If your audience knows you by name, put your name in the “from” line. If you are handling your own business or are the only employee, it’s likely your audience knows your name. What’s more, using your own name makes a direct appeal to the people on your list.
If email recipients identify with your company’s name and not yours, or even recognize it before they recognize yours, then include your company’s name in the “from” line—especially if your business is a big name. If they know it by its initials, use them, and if they know it by the full name, put it that way. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken can send emails initialed “KFC” because people recognize the initials more easily than the full name (many might not even recognize the full name).
Both Personal and Business Name
You can include both your personal name and your company’s name in the “from” line. This works when you are part of a big business and you are the personal representative of the business. People will likely identify with your company’s name and also acknowledge you as the representative of the business. You could also use your first name followed by the company’s name (for example: “Maria, Peoples’ Magazine”).
When you work for a particular department in a business and your audience knows that, mention it. If your email address doesn’t already include your department, put it in (as in “Steve, HR, Peoples’ Magazine”). You’ll give your audience the most specific information possible.
If there are many representatives in your business, divide the email addresses into shorter lists and use the most familiar representatives’ names for each list in the “from” line along with the company’s name.
Many companies have branches in many locations around a city, state, country or world. In such cases, the company name alone might confuse your audience, so mention your specific geographical location.
If your audience is most familiar with your company’s website, then include the domain name or URL. Include your business name as well to promote your business as a brand.
The “from” line supports subject line (which you’ll read about soon), so don’t repeat yourself. If you already have your company name in the “from” line, do not mention it again in the subject line. Plus, you’ll free up space in the subject line.
Be aware that CAN-SPAM laws restrict the use of misleading “from” lines. Whatever information you include, make sure it’s genuine and relevant.
The “From” Address
This is the email address of the sender. Mentioning the “from” address in the “from” line varies from email program to email program; some allow both to be displayed but others allow for only one or the other.
Along with the “from” line, the “from” address is important because it invites recipients in. If your audience is familiar with you and your company, you can create email addresses that serve as the “from” address for your emails. Don’t send marketing emails from personal accounts that you have with Hotmail, Yahoo! and so on. Create email addresses that denote both you and your company, like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Subject Line
The subject line is most important; it attracts readers the best. It’s a direct statement about the email content, and it helps recipients prioritize emails on their inbox lists. Effective subject lines prompt recipients to open emails. Subject lines should lead readers, not mislead them.
Subject lines should not be long because email programs limit the number of characters displayed. Most allow 30 to 50 characters, but mobile email programs allow 20 to 30. Bear that in mind while composing.
Here are few techniques to make your subject lines effective.
To create attractive subject lines, do a little research. First, register for your competitors’ email lists, then go through the emails you get from them and see what kind of subject lines work and get the most hits. As you look through others’ emails, observe what kinds of subject lines attract you so that you can write creative subject lines yourself. Here’s another exercise: go through newspapers and pick out the catchy headlines, and reform them to suit your subject.
Mention immediate benefits in the subject line. Clearly state the benefits your business provides (qualities or conditions, current offers, discounts, etc.) to establish an “in” with readers. For example, “free gift inside” tells readers there will be benefits in exchange for opening the email.
Using a Tone of Urgency
A note of urgency in the subject line could get recipients to open your email immediately. Here are few examples:“get instant math help”, “free gifts for top ten registration,” “free registration until this Friday,” and so on. You can use dates (months, weeks or days) to pinpoint the level of urgency, and your audience will respond sooner rather than later.
Adding Valuable Words
Highlight the main keywords of the email content in the subject line. This will help the audience identify the value of the email in practical terms. Make your subject line even more attractive by making the email content relevant to the interests of the recipients. Use motivating words like “discount” or “gifts.”Use words like “free” if they apply (people always respond to that word). Align your offers with seasons, holidays or other occasions to stay current (examples: “new Christmas arrivals,”“tips for winter skin care,”“what’s hot this summer” and so on). Whatever you do, avoid using extreme but meaningless words like “excellent,”“amazing” and “superb, “especially when you are delivering just good content (and there’s nothing wrong with good content).
Avoiding Spammy Subject Lines
Avoid using excessive punctuation, including exclamation marks or question marks. Avoid misspellings and using all-caps. And be specific, not vague. Finally, don’t exaggerate or promise more than you can deliver.
Current CAN-SPAM laws restrict misrepresentation in the subject line, so make sure that your subject line is related closely to the content of your email. Keep your subject lines simple and straightforward, and don’t be pushy because it could come across as spam or as some “buy it” type of email that offers no valuable information. Subject lines should stand out and grab attention, but there’s a fine line between catchy and spammy.
Before sending your emails, do a spam check. Do it with your own eyes, or run your email through a content checker like this one so that a spammy word or phrase doesn’t get left behind.
A Subject-Line Experiment
Don’t use similar subject lines every time you send an email. You’ll bore your readers, and it will lessen the impact of your message. Here’s an experiment you can do to make your subject line more appealing.
Create two or three different subject lines for the same email, and divide your recipient list into three groups. Send the same email with different subject lines to the different groups. After few days, analyze the clicks and visits, and see which one worked best. Then use that kind again in future.
Say you have a list of 1000 email addresses. Create two different subject lines for the same email, and pick 200 addresses from the 1000. Send one of the two emails to 100 addresses, and send the other to the other 100. After few days, check which one is working better, and send that version to the last800 addresses.