Creating an email that is effective, relevant and converts your readers can be a challenge.
Here are six tips to help improve the functionality and design of your emails.
First up, without a clean, up-to-date and organised contact database, you will be hindering your email marketing program. It’s important to segment your contacts into smaller groups based on their similarities, so you can tailor your message to be more relevant and engaging to the person receiving the email.
To segment your database, you might start with current customers & prospects or separate across business offerings. You can also further segment contacts by the industry they work in, business size, job title… etc. It’s also a great idea to segment your contacts based on your buyer personas so you can target your different personas more spcifically.
Lists, and the contact database that powers your list building, are what give context to the experiences that people have with your company. It’s what allows you to organize and communicate with your contacts based on their common needs and priorities.
Segmentation is what allows marketers to do relationship driven marketing that produces results.
The subject line is the first chance your email has to make an impression, which means it has a huge influence on your conversion rates and your brand perception. It can help you figure out what messaging appeals to your targeted personas. Here are a couple of tips:
- When writing a great subject line try to keep it short, 6 to 10 words is best after that the reader will lose interest.
- Avoid using words that can trigger spam filters such as “free” or “winner” these words are also avoided by readers as we have learnt to associate them with scams.
- Don’t use anything too sprightly and over the top, it can be tempting to fill the subject line with exclamations. It’s best to opt for a simple statement or a question.
- Personalisation when appropriate can make a reader feel like they are being treated more like a person than a number and has been proven to have a significant effect on open rates.
- Keep your subject lines fresh by avoiding being too repetitive. Get creative with your words to avoid subscribers becoming bored.
Here is an example of a great, simple and to the point subject line by UberEATS:
The purpose of an email is to communicate information and entice readers to act. This is achieved through great content and also great design. One of the easiest ways to add impact to you your email is to enlist the use of whitespace.
Whitespace, also known as negative space, is the parts of your email left unmarked. It exists between your copy, images, columns and Call-To-Actions (CTA).
It might seem like a scary thing to have empty areas however, try and think about whitespace like the breaths or pauses you take in-between a sentence during a presentation. You don’t just speak on and on - you pause to add emphasise making your message clearer.
Have a look at the role that white space plays in this email from Duolingo, (sourced from HubSpot) which adopts an excellent use of whitespace to provide a quick and engaging message:
Mobile reading habits are also an important reason to use whitespace that will benefit your emails. On a phone, walls of text can be difficult to read. Links clustered together can be difficult to tap with a finger. Breaking up your copy with a few line breaks and whitespace can make a real difference.
The Inverted Pyramid method by Vero, an email service provider, is an easy way to use design principles to arrange and present your copy more effectively. The method is used to create focused emails that lead to conversion.
You may know of the inverted pyramid from journalistic experiences. It suggests that writers put the most newsworthy content in the first paragraph. The difference here is that while journalism uses the bottom of the pyramid for the least important information, emails place the most important piece, the call to action, at the bottom, and use the earlier space to capture attention and build anticipation.
Here is an example of the use of the Inverted Pyramid by Ettitude:
This example has a captivating image to attract attention, short, value focused copy using headers to provide hierarchy, and a clear call to action.
A very important thing to consider when creating your email is the type of device your readers use to access their emails. The bulk of your readers will be viewing your emails on their mobiles.
81% of smartphone users say email is the MOST popular activity they use their phone for. - According to UK telecoms regulator Ofcom4.
For this reason, it is essential that your emails are optimised for mobile viewing.
Creating emails for a mobile screen forces you to be targeted with your content and design to bring the emails point to the forefront. A long complex email that looks impressive on desktop may not look so good on mobile. It’s much better to take a less-is-more approach for mobile optimisation along with these tips.
- Use mobile-friendly templates. Many email service providers give users pre-approved templates that will automatically scale to any device.
- The absolute smallest your CTA should be is a 44pixel square, which is roughly the surface area of a thumb (you want your readers to be able to push the button).
- The text you use should be a minimum 14pt. Otherwise it might be too small to read on mobile.
Last but not least, after sending emails it’s critical to measure your results so you can further optimise your emails in the future. Sending an email is not a set and forget task, it should be a process that you are continually analysing and improving on.
Be sure to test areas such as the design/layout, copy, CTA, time and day sent, preview text and subject lines of your emails. Also pay attention to the number of emails you send to certain lists.
By optimising your emails and learning from the past you will slow and avoid your contact database decay.