How Not To Be A Pest – Creating Effective Marketing Emails

Raise your hand if you’ve ever unsubscribed from an email list.

Everyone? Okay.

Email is one of the most common types of marketing today. Despite the hype around social media, email marketing has persisted through the past couple of decades for a good reason – it works well. (For the record, we think businesses can benefit from both email and social media marketing.)

Last month, Campaign Monitor – a giant in the email marketing world – released a list of facts that prove email marketing, done correctly, is as relevant as ever. Some of the most compelling include:

  • 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared with 17% who prefer social media
  • Email is 40x more effective at helping businesses acquire new customers than Facebook or Twitter
  • 58% of adults check their email first thing in the morning
  • 91% of people check their email at least once a day on their smartphone
  • Proper email list segmentation can double email open rates
  • 65% of users prefer emails to contain mostly images, compared to 35% who prefer text

As useful a marketing tool as email is, it’s also all too common for it to be used incorrectly. You’ve probably received more than a few annoying marketing emails – too frequent, poorly written, or poorly targeted. An improperly executed marketing email can drive people to click the “unsubscribe” button. However, a thoughtful email can keep people on your subscriber list, easily accessible and receptive to your messaging and marketing.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Write an interesting subject line

Your subject line matters – make sure it’s good. Don’t be boring or formulaic. And definitely don’t be spammy – there’s a right way and a wrong way to let customers know about a deal, and telling them about your “INCREDIBLE OFFER!!!!!!” definitely falls into the latter group.

Instead, tailor your subject line to the content of the email – it should be concise and informative, and ideally give people an idea of how they would benefit from opening your email.

  1. Think carefully about the preview text

The preview text is the first bit of copy in the email, and coupled with the subject line, is one of the first things people will use to assess your email before they’ve opened it.

Think about how your preview text will appear to your customers. Don’t waste space with meandering introductions – get to the point quickly. Alternatively, try piquing their curiosity with some interesting – and slightly mysterious – text like “How five minutes now can save you hours later.”

  1. Follow the principles of good writing, and use lots of photos

We’ve written before about how to write good copy, and those principles apply across all forms of marketing – cut out excessive words, be clear and concise, and simplify things as much as possible. Use short paragraphs and organize your writing in a way that’s easy to read.

Remember the Campaign Monitor statistics above? They found that 65% of people prefer emails that are mostly images. A picture is worth a thousand words after all, so choose images that show people what you want them to see. Pair your photos with a few clean, explanatory lines of copy and you’re good to go.

  1. Don’t forget the call to action

You’re sending that email for a reason, aren’t you? What is it? Don’t be coy, this is a marketing email, and people know you want them to do something. Make sure it’s clear what that is.

  1. Segment your emails properly

Just as people are more likely to click on online ads that are more relevant to their interests and needs, properly segmenting emails can significantly increase their effectiveness. Though customer segments vary from brand to brand, dividing customers based on demographics, status (are they a new or returning customer?), interests, history, and more can help you zero in on the people who are most likely to be interested in your email, and more likely to take action as a result.

  1. Don’t send too many emails

We’re all familiar with the annoyance of getting too many emails from the same sender – don’t be that sender. While the fact that your customers are subscribed to your emails indicates their continued interest in your brand, don’t wear out your welcome. As a general rule, don’t send more than three to four emails per week.

Though digital marketing is constantly evolving, email has stood the test of time as one of the most effective tools available. Make yours thoughtful, clear, and engaging, and email will quickly become one of the strongest pillars of your marketing strategy.

Aleisha Bosch

Aleisha Bosch is an Account Manager at Bonfire.