Category: Digital · 5 min read
4 Tips to Writing a Better Email
on December 31, 2019
on December 31, 2019
Here’s a statistic that might blow your mind: In 2018, there were 281 billion emails sent and received worldwide.1 This year, it’s estimated to rise to 293.6 billion.1 That is a ton of emails.
Now think about the emails you send. They get transmitted along with hundreds of billions of other emails, into the inboxes of your prospects and clients. Some of them sit there, unopened forever, stranded. The lucky ones get opened and read. The best ones cause the recipient to reply or respond. Do people respond to your emails? Do they even open them?
To help increase your email success rates and effectiveness, follow these guidelines.
1. Your List
Let’s start with the people you email. There’s a tendency to mass send all of your clients the same email. Avoid doing that, if you can. It’s usually better to “segment” out the people you email. This means separating your email list out, based on client characteristics like age, income, personality, or life stage. For example, maybe you want to send an email to your clients that are nearing retirement. Or, you only want to email those that are in the family-building years. Whatever your preference, segmenting your email list lets you personalize and customize the message you send your clients.
There’s a tendency to mass send all of your clients the same email. Avoid doing that, if you can.
Let’s talk a little more about your list. All of the email addresses you have on file is your list, your database. But your email database can easily become outdated and bad. Beyond clients changing their email address, your list can also go bad by sending emails too often or not having an easy way to unsubscribe in every email you send. If those things happen, your emails can end up in spam filters or lead to your email address becoming black-listed, which means you won’t be able to send emails to your database.
Getting lost in spam world can happen more easily than you may think. Here are a few of the main reasons why:
- You never got actual permission to email them
- Your emails aren’t getting open or read very often
- You’re emailing a lot of inactive email accounts
- Your subject lines are deceiving
- Your email doesn’t include your office address
- There’s not a link to unsubscribe
- You used some spam trigger words (congratulations, free, guarantee, click here)
Avoid these negative areas, and you can escape the realm of spam filters and black-listings.
2. Your Content
Now that you’ve segmented your list, you can use the content in your emails to speak to your clients on a personal level. Some ways to make the emails you send feel personal include putting their name in the greeting or list out some details that apply to their situation or life stage.
There’s also a tendency to make your emails include every single detail and thought you have, which means they become paragraphs of long sentences, kind of like this one, even though you don’t intentionally mean to make it that long. Instead, keep it short. Think about how your clients are going to be reading your email. Most likely they’re going to be reading it on their cell phone, and they’re going to be skimming it. So, keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Another good idea is to include a headline above each section or paragraph to call out important points you want to get across.
With short emails comes the need for clarity. What you say and how you say it matters. Lead with the most important information, and make sure it’s crystal clear. Don’t be mysterious. Emails should be about one thing and one thing only. Don’t try to cram everything into it at once.
On the topic of clarity, it should also be obvious and easy for your clients to unsubscribe from getting your emails. Usually, a link to unsubscribe is included at the bottom of every message you send.
Emails should be about one thing and one thing only. Don’t try to cram everything into it at once.
3. Your CTA
At the end of your email, there should always be a call-to-action (CTA). This is where you encourage your clients to act on what they just read. Usually a CTA is a clickable button or link that tells the reader to “Register,” “Learn More,” “Sign Up,” or “Get Started.” It’s extremely short (two or three words at the most) and easy to understand. They should stand out and involve some sort of action verb, so that it’s very clear what you want the reader to do. Separate them out from the rest of the email so it’s on its own line. If you can, try to make it so you only have one CTA per email. Otherwise, you run the risk of confusing the people reading your email.
Most likely, your CTA will link to something: a page on your website, or maybe a form where they can fill out their information. If it doesn’t, it can still be beneficial to bold your CTA or underline it, so that it stands out from the rest of the email. Even if you’re just typing up an email in Outlook, you can add a CTA like: “Call me at xxx.xxx.xxxx or reply to this email.”
To help determine what your CTA should be, ask yourself this: What is the one thing I want the reader of this email to do? Your answer should be the CTA.
As you do this, make sure you explain what happens when they do what you want them to. Will they get a phone call from you? Or another email? List it out, so they aren’t surprised.
4. Your Subject Line
Subject lines might be the hardest part of an email to write. That’s why this point is last: subject lines can be easier to come up with after the rest of the email is already written and ready to send.
The subject line of your email can make it or break it. A lot of the time, people open or don’t open emails based on the subject line. If it doesn’t interest them or catch their attention, they’ll move on to their 30 other unread emails. It’s worth it to spend a good chunk of time to get your subject line right.
Many email platforms have something called A/B testing functionality. If your platform lets you do this, do it! This allows you to send multiple subject lines of the same email to a small section of your email list. The better performing subject line from the small section of your list gets automatically sent to the rest of the list. Consider it a subject line test.
There are a lot of different techniques to crafting a good subject line. The main point is to create intrigue. The subject line should raise a question or problem, and the rest of the email answers or solves the problem. It closes the loop. Say something that will catch their attention and make your reader curious about what it means. Other tips include capitalizing an important word, using action words (such as REQUIRED, REGISTER, SIGN UP, JOIN US), and using emojis. Remember this: a good subject line that doesn’t relate to the content inside the email will get you nowhere, and will just confuse your audience. Subject lines that are misleading can be considered misleading advertising, so make sure your subject line matches the rest of the email.
Again, like the content in your email and your CTA, the subject line should be short. Best practice is to keep it to five words or less. Say a lot with less. The subject line shouldn’t tell them everything they need to know, it just needs to get them to open the email and read the rest.
People open or don’t open emails based on the subject line. If it doesn’t interest them or catch their attention, they’ll move on to their 30 other unread emails.
There’s no guarantee that your clients will open your emails, but with a few tweaks, you can send communications that are engaging, clear, and effective for those that do click on them.
1. Statista. “Number of sent and received e-mails per day worldwide from 2017 to 2023.” 2019. https://www.statista.com/statistics/456500/daily-number-of-e-mails-worldwide/
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