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Updated 29 Feb 2020

How to write the perfect e-mailer

The art of writing email marketing messages is a valuable one; so why haven’t you mastered it yet?

Gail Goodman, Entrepreneur, 25 June 2012  Share  0 comments  Print

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Email marketing is the hottest ticket today, and mailings to opt-in lists now yield higher results than direct mail,and at a lower cost. Everyone is looking for that magic formula – the perfect message that will electrify opt-in campaigns. But the proliferation of email makes it tough to stand out. Here are eight tips for writing emails that produce top results:

1. Choose a great subject line

Steer clear of misleading or mysterious subject lines. Nothing screams spam louder than “How are you?”.  An effective subject line includes a benefit and relates directly to your offer, such as: “Save 60% on tape stock.”

2. Have a solid hook

The first few sentences contain your hook and are the most critical part of your email. The hook is the central message of your mailing. It should be clear and intriguing. Be sure it focuses on what a customer will get, not on what you offer.

3. Tell readers what to do

Your email should have two or three paragraphs, no more. Total length should be less than 250 words. The body should support your hook using benefits, then close with a call to action.Tell readers what you want them to do and include hyperlinks such as “Click here to register”.

4. Use clear, direct language

A well-written message uses the active voice and has short, concise sentences. This is crucial because as many as half of your recipients will read just the first few sentences before deciding to continue. If writing isn’t your strong point, consider hiring an email copywriter.

5. Focus on your offer

Your email should have one subject only. Resist the temptation to make multiple offers, which may confuse your recipients and dilute your message.

6. Don’t drop the ball

Some email marketing messages fall short because they fail to include all the information customers need. Be sure to include vital data, such as pricing and deadlines. It’s unreasonable to expect customers to visit your site to get the information they need to evaluate your email offer.

7. Include a postscript

While a postscript isn’t mandatory, it grabs attention. Often, recipients will read the subject line and the hook, scan key elements and go directly to the PS. It should restate your hook and highlight your offer. After the PS, give recipients a way to unsubscribe from your list. This is generally the last link at the bottom of the email.

8. Make it readable

Even the best copy can’t sell if your email looks too dense. Keep paragraphs to three or four lines and double-spaced. Use bullets or stars to emphasise key points, but avoid text in all caps or multiple exclamation points. Set text width at 68 characters or less per line so it displays correctly in email applications.

Also, avoid breaking or wrapping URLs into two lines as it may cause technical problems. By eliminating these barriers, it will be easy for customers to take advantage of your offer and dramatically boost your results.

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About the author

Gail Goodman, Entrepreneur

Gail Goodman is CEO of Constant Contact, an online provider of email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, and online survey tools and services for small businesses and organizations. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and a member of the board of directors of SCORE. Gail holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Pennsylvania and a MBA from Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth. Follow her on Twitter: @Gail_Goodman

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