The Basics for Email Marketing – How to Write a Catchy Email

The goal of email marketing is this: “Your message needs to stand out from all the other emails inside the inbox, so it can get opened and read”.

It’s a battlefield in there.

I’m not talking about the loud and explosive battlefield. It’s an eyeball and mind game battlefield. When your subscriber’s log into their email accounts they are instantly bombarded with bullets (“From” lines), explosions (Subject lines), armor-piercing tank shells (content) and nuclear explosions (Calls To Action). O.K. the analogies of war might sound a little extreme to you, but don’t let it fool you. It’s serious business inside each subscribers inbox and there are supreme email marketing tacticians that are dominating the fight.

If you focus on the 4 basic foundations of email marketing then you’ll be better equipped and better prepared than the person who jumps in with guns blazing.

Basic foundation #1: The “From” line — Ignored by many professional email marketers as well as armatures, normally because, “they don’t know what they don’t know”. Imagine this, you open your inbox and all of your emails are “From”: Virus123, Blank, Spyware On Your Computer, and XXX. Would you open any those?

Probably not, unless you have a thing for inviting viruses, spyware, pornography, and other mysterious things on your computer. What I’m trying to illustrate is that your subscribers need to recognize “Who” these emails are coming “from”.

Your “From” line needs to contain recognizable names. Whether that’s a brand name or brand specific email addresses. I’m sure you’ve received an email from someone you didn’t recognize like “John Smith” and you asked yourself, “Who in the world is that?” Your action for that email was most likely one of these two responses: “Delete” or “Spam” button push.

If your subscribers know that your writing them an email then it will increase your chances of getting it read.

Basic Foundation #2: The Subject line — Subject lines can say anything ranging from “Here’s your receipt” to “Open Me, Please”. The key is writing the best subject line for that particular email, and that particular audience. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula for subject line creation like there used to be back in the early 90’s (where almost all emails were opened). Now a days it’s a battle of wits, and knowing your audience. It takes real work. Subject lines have to stand out in the inbox and pull interest.

I’ll share some little insights to help make your subject line creation process a little bit easier.

First: Know your audience! If you’re emailing businesses than use words and descriptions that intrigue businesses. If you’re emailing surfers then use words that relate to them. For example I read one subject line from a surfing clothes retailer that said, “Holy Ship!” See how they play with their audience and know what would intrigue their audience. Do the same with your subject lines.

Second: Don’t over punctuate! Punctuation is great and helps get the point across, but don’t over use it. One exclamation mark will do just as well as fifteen. Keep this in mind, the exclamation mark is the most overused punctuation mark in subject lines. I recommend you try to limit their use.

Basic foundation #3: Create Engaging Content — You can’t write the same stuff all the time or else people get bored and move on with their lives. Think about how fast people glance at a website before they decide to stay for the next 10 seconds and then decide if they want to stay for another minute. Content in your emails has to have super amazing, delicious bitter-sweetness that keeps drawing in subscribers. Your subscribers should feel a “wow” sensation every time they open and read your emails.

Keep content easy to read.

When reading on a computer screen or mobile phone screen it’s harder on the eyes. Make the person feel like they can easily digest the reading material.

If you write emails in solid blocks of text that compact every single line into a text-book format then they’ll get scared and run away from your email, because they feel it will take too much time to read.

Your subscribers are busy and when they read stuff on their computers they feel like they don’t have time.

Keep text from appearing like solid blocks of code.

Similar to how I’ve broken up these last six sentences.

Use video, images and anything else you can get your hands on to make your emails engaging, but don’t go overboard with all the fancy stuff.

Don’t write big sales letters all the time or short ones for that matter. If your subscribers signed up for a newsletter, then that’s what they’ll expect. Give it to them. Don’t pull the rug out from under their feet.

Give them stuff. People love really neat stuff. There’s a saying, “If you can help a million people, you’ll make a million dollars.” Give them really amazing content and keep the sales pitches to a minimum.

Basic Foundation #4: Call To Action — I used to work for a travel agency that sent out roughly 1 million emails per week. Granted they had about 15 different lists, but each of those lists were given the same email with the same CTA’s (Calls to Action). Like any large organization they would look at the results and the only thing that mattered to them was “Open Rates” and “Click” rates. Which should concern every email marketer. However, I noticed (and so did some of my co-workers) that certain offers were always more popular than others.

It seemed like everyone wanted to go to Vegas. I told them that they needed to start targeting those people with specific Vegas CTAs, but they thought it would take too much time and effort to plan and execute strategic offers like that. When in reality it would’ve been quite easy to do.

Know your audience…sound familiar? Give the people what they want. If these people want to go to Vegas then send them an amazing deal to Vegas. Simple as that.

Keep your CTAs to a maximum of three per email. There are a number of psychological tests demonstrating too many choices lead to no decision being made. The travel agency used to send emails with 15+ CTAs. They went from the view-point that they wanted to offer a lot of choices, but this paralyzes people to make a decision. If people have too many choices they start to think they might pick the wrong choice and it’s better not to choose at all.

Look at Groupon as an example, all of their daily emails make one amazing offer, one CTA, that’s it, nothing more nothing less.

Remember your goal as an email marketer is: “Your message needs to stand out from all the other emails inside the subscribers inbox”. Keep the four basic foundations and you’ll have a catchy email marketing campaign before you know it.

Chief Editor of the Email Marketing Magazine Spamspert Magazine. He’s written hundreds of articles that relate to email marketing training. Actively participating in the email marketing industry since 2008 he’s manged and operated a number of different email marketing systems including Infusionsoft, Aweber, MailChimp, Bronto, and number of others. He loves to help small to large businesses improve their email marketing messages, opt-ins, and campaigns through a number of tactics, hands on interactions, and personal connections. Spamspert Magazine is the up and coming leader as the best resource for anyone interested in email marketing.

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