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Effective Email Marketing

Nov 1, 2009

A staple in any customer retention program is the ability to write emails that strengthen relationships, receive responses and prompt action. Often, not enough attention is paid to this critical component of building a business, and when it is, I too frequently see it performed incorrectly. As such, I am going to cover a number of topics, spread over a series of articles, that will help you develop more effective email follow up campaigns.

The first thing one has to do in building an effective email follow up program is to determine the desired outcome of each email. You cannot build an effective email if you do not have a goal. Depending on the desired outcome, a response could be any number of things. Overall though, emails play three primary goals:

  1. Build Relationships. All email programs should build a stronger relationship with the customer and seek to enhance your brand in their eyes.
  2. Get Responses. Example: response to surveys, questions, feedback, etc.
  3. Persuade Action. Example: clicking a link in the email.

No matter your intention, an email should aim for the following actions at a minimum, and in the following order:

  1. Get interest (attention).
  2. Get opened.
  3. Get the action (response, click, etc.).

In other words, the job of an email is to first attract the attention of the recipients. Second, persuade the recipients to open the email and then finally prompt them to act by clicking a link, which typically takes them back to your site. It goes without saying you cannot achieve the open if you don't grab their attention, and you can't win the click if you don't get them to open it. Now, how do you maximize the opportunity to achieve these three desired actions (interest, open, action)? To do this, you need to understand that there are four major email components which all good marketers take advantage of:

  1. From Name.
  2. Subject Line.
  3. Email Content (body).
  4. Call to Action.

Of course, every email should have an opt-out option, but that is for another article, and I will not go into detail on it here. To achieve the first two actions (i.e. interest, open), you must develop an effective subject line. Make it short and intriguing. Let's say you are running a limited time fall promotion for product you sell:

The Subject Line

A good subject line might be: Get 50% Off. 5 Days Only. Details Inside ...

A less powerful subject line is: Fall Into Savings for a Limited Time!

The first subject line clearly states the offer and then ends with a subtle call to action "details inside" followed by an ellipsis (or hellip). An ellipsis is a three dot symbol used to show an incomplete statement. Ellipses are used in on-screen menus to convey that there is more to come (...).

The "From Line"

To be most effective, the "from" line should be the name of your business or website. Why? It is your business or website that they are transacting with, and using it in the "from" line will help trigger brand awareness. It will answer at least one major question they will ask when they receive the email: "Who sent me this email?" The answer to that question, combined with the subject line, easily tells them what the offer is and who sent it. They need to know this in order to establish trust, and any hesitation to open the email based on security is removed from the equation.

Ok, you have now accomplished the first objective and the customer opens the email. What next? Now you need to make sure at least two basic things are present to get the next action, which is the click, in our example.

The Content

The body of the email (the text, images, etc.) needs to reinforce the offer and provide the details. Don't go into your whole life story and write a book here. Keep it simple: state the benefits, stick to the facts and provide a call to action. Remember, people are overwhelmed by emails and will not spend much time reading them, so get to the point and make it compelling. Give them a reason to take action, and then most importantly, ask for the action! It does you no good to develop a super email, get it opened, and then forget to give them ways to perform the final action. Many people just need a good prompt to get it done, and this is what is referred to as the call to action.

The Call to Action

Calls to action ask the reader to do something. Examples include, "Shop Now!," "Learn More," "Click for Details," "Go Shopping," "Add to Cart," etc. Provide your reader with a number of ways to get back to your site, including hyperlinks to your domain and to the product(s) you are promoting.

The call to action should also reflect the nature of your intention. If you want the reader to start shopping or complete a survey, for example, tell them this with your call to action. Don't assume they will complete the task just because you present it to them. Ask them to do it.

These are the basic components of all emails. Use them to develop an effective communication to get the three desired actions completed: Get Interest, Get Opened and Get the Action. I'll be going into more details you should consider for developing effective email follow up campaigns in upcoming articles. This article is a good place to start.

Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce conversion marketing expert and author of a leading Ecommerce Optimization blog, He coaches store owners using his online coaching system, Ecommerce Amplifier, teaching them how to increase website sales using his proven six step process. He can be contacted at 1-866-602-2673.

Topic: Business Strategies

Related Articles: marketing 

Article ID: 1222

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