As some of you may already know, I spoke to the Executive Directors of the state affiliates of ARVC in Las Vegas. Everyone agreed that their major pain point with social media was in getting their emails opened and read. As a result of their comments, I have put together 20 tips on making your emails effective.
1.) Before you begin sending out your emails, decide what your goals and objectives are. I know I harp on this a lot but it can’t be said enough. If you don’t have goals and objectives clearly defined you are going to be spinning your wheels and disappointment is sure to follow.
2.) Don’t use your personal email address, especially if it is a @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com or anything similar. When a large number of emails are sent out from one address, it is very likely that your emails will be marked as Spam and not only will the recipient not receive your email, other contacts may not receive your email.
3.) It is well worth the cost to use an email provider such as MailChimp, iContact, or VerticalResponse. These systems will provide you with great analytics that will help you determine who is opening your emails, when they are being opened and any click through rates (CTR) you may have.
4.) When you write your email, provide value in the information and keep the readers expectations in mind. If the reader is expecting a professional email with educational information but you send them something that looks unprofessional and the information is just a regurgitation of the latest industry news, you are going to turn your reader off. Even if they don’t unsubscribe, they will probably mark your email address as an immediate delete.
5.) All your emails are on an opt-in basis and must provide a way for the person to unsubscribe. You will want to monitor your unsubscribes and if they are high, that is a good indication that you are not providing value.
6.) Take a look at the emails you receive and open on a regular basis. What makes you open those emails? Do you look forward to receiving those emails? Incorporate those features into your emails.
7.) Personalize your “From” address. Instead of it saying firstname.lastname@example.org, have the “From” read “Pamela Wright.” Of course you would use your name instead of mine. This will make the email feel much more personal and less like a generic email.
8.) Make your subject line an honest representation of what is in the email. Avoid using “December Newsletter” and instead refer to a topic within the newsletter.
9.) Review the timing of your email send. For most people, Wednesday through Sunday are the days to get business taken care of. Mondays and Tuesdays are the times when we read our emails and plan our week.
10.) It is a good idea to use a Table of Contents at the beginning of the email and hyperlink to the complete article. People tend to scan text to determine if they want to continue reading. By giving the reader the listing in a TOC format, you are allowing them to decide which articles they want to read and in what order.
11.) Use the recipient’s name at the beginning of the email. This again will reinforce the personal and causal feel of the newsletter. This can be done fairly easily in most of the email provider systems.
12.) Send your email out as both HTML and text. Not everyone wants to download graphics just to be able to read what you have to say. There are fewer and fewer users today who don’t prefer HTML but why turn off a reader if you don’t need to?
13.) Use bullet points and lots of white space in your email and keep the margins beefy. This will make reading your email much easier on the eyes.
14.) Encourage forwarding by the simple act of asking for the reader to forward the email. Never be afraid to ask for those referrals which is all that a forwarded email really is.
15.) Always post a link to your website within the email and then review your click through rate. This will give you a little better knowledge about what is being acted on within the email. Once you know what is being acted on, you can increase the amount you talk about that subject.
17.) Double check your spelling and grammar. You don’t have to write like William F. Buckley but you also don’t want to write in a way that would embarrass your high school English teacher. Use spell check but don’t depend on it. While spell check has gotten smarter, it can still allow the wrong word to be used.
18.) In a text based email a legible font such as Courier, Calibri, or Times New Roman.
19.) Put your headlines in large, bold font to attract the reader’s eye and remember to hyperlink.
20.) Always be thinking of new ways that you can add value to your emails. They can be short and sweet or long and interesting as long as there is value in what you have to say.
These are my 20 basic rules for emails. I’m sure you have found ones that work for you. What has been your most successful email? Was it for a holiday, a special event, or an announcement? When is the best time for you to send your emails out?