5 Tips for Writing Emails People Want to Read

Posted by Joanna Conti on November 16, 2014 in Content Marketing

Emails can be the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal.  Unfortunately, most emails disappear without a trace.  Here are 5 keys to making yours more effective:

Focus on Your Reader’s Interests

To craft an effective email, you need to walk in your reader’s shoes.  They could care less how proud you are of your latest product.  However, if your product would help them get their teenager out of bed in the morning or impress their boss at next week’s sales meeting, that’s a different story.

Understand their pain points.  Solve their problem.  Focus on your reader, not you.

Write a Compelling Headline

The average business person is going to receive 147 emails today.  If you don’t want your email to end up in the trash can, your headline has to convince them they will benefit from opening it. 

MailChimp’s analysis of over 200 million emails found the following:

  • Your headline should be short (no more than 50 characters) & descriptive.  Tell, not sell, what the email is about.    
  • Avoid cheesy phrases, headlines that sound like an ad from Sunday’s paper, and words that scream sales such as “free”, “percent off” and “reminder”.  Surprisingly, the word “help” also killed open rates.
  • Including the recipient’s name in the headline doesn’t significantly improve open rates but including a location, such as the name of a city, does.
  • Subject lines framed as questions often perform better.
  • Don’t use all capital letters or exclamation marks.

Cut The Fluff

Your reader is not going to carefully read every word you’ve slaved over; they’re going to skim.  And if they don’t immediately see the value of the information you’re providing, they’re going to click through to the next email in their inbox.

Write simply and cleanly.  Break the email into sections with easily-skimmable headings, use bullet points whenever possible, and follow the journalist’s rule of putting the most important information at the beginning.

Include a Strong Call to Action

You’re sending the email because you want the reader to do something such as download a white paper, purchase a product, or agree to a meeting.  Explain clearly and concisely what you want them to do and how they will benefit.  Make it easy for them to do what you want.

Continually Improve

If this is an email you’re planning to use over and over, test your way to perfection.  Does a different headline increase your open rates?  Is there a more compelling way to ask for the sale?  Rather than guessing, today’s marketing automation tools allow you to test different options until your email consistently delivers the action you’re looking for.