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E-mail messaging that works

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

These e-marketing tips from SmartBrief’s launch manager Sarah Brown are a follow-up to her recent post about optimizing e-mail frequency and subject lines. Sarah is in charge of introducing brand-new SmartBriefs (17 new publications so far this year!), as well as product innovations to nearly 3 million SmartBrief subscribers.

As you may know, we at SmartBrief publish newsletters in more than 20 industries. We have newsletters that cater to such diverse groups as civil engineers, lawyers, airline industry professionals, and accountants. Despite the diversity of our audiences, we have found some copy writing best practices that work across the board:

  • Keep it short. Best-case scenario, your entire marketing message should be legible within the default preview pane on Microsoft Outlook. (At SmartBrief we try to keep it to 3 short paragraphs.) Use action words whenever possible, and eliminate adverbs and nonessential words to pare down your message. Cater to readers who skim.
  • Have only one “ask.” Each e-mail marketing message should have a singular “ask” from the reader. Here at SmartBrief, it’s usually “Sign up for SmartBrief.” Whatever your goal may be — “purchase this product,” “download this whitepaper,” “register for this event” — resist the temptation to tack on other action items. The best results come from keeping your reader focused on your most important goal.
  • Offer several means to the same end. A singular purpose does not necessarily mean a singular call to action. Link to the same action at least twice, and often three times in the same message — selecting different action verbs as triggers. What inspires people to click varies, so mix it up. Also, don’t bury your call to action at the bottom of the e-mail. If you lead with your goal, you’ll be sure that those who read e-mails in their preview panes get your message.
  • Add in a graphical call to action. It’s a fact: people look at pictures, even simple ones. In our marketing messages, we link two to four different action words/phrases — and include a graphical signup button as well. That signup button really works. In a recent multi-send campaign, we had a total of 14 opportunities to opt in, five of which were graphical buttons and nine of which were hyperlinks. So even though less than 40% of the opportunities to click were signup graphics, almost 60% of our clicks came from the signup buttons.
  • Show readers the goods. Whenever possible, show your recipients a sample of what you’re offering. At SmartBrief, we accomplish this by sending a sample newsletter below our invitation to sign up and by including clickable thumbnails of sample brief on our signup pages, like so.
  • Go out with a bang. We often like to include a P.S. at the end of our marketing messages. Sometimes we use it as a reminder, sometimes to underscore an important detail that may have gotten lost in the body of the message, and sometimes to add a little dash of personality to the message to make it feel less sales-y. The way you close out your message is important – so think carefully about the impression you want to leave.

Image credit, terrymorris, via iStock