5 min read
September 22, 2014
Last updated: July 5, 2019
Email marketing has proven to be one of the most effective means of marketing. Even with all the social media options and multimedia capabilities we have, a simple mailing list and a well-written, targeted email campaign can be one of the most powerful ways you have to build customer loyalty, increase sales, and keep your business growing.
Think of your customers as readers when it comes to your email copy and content.
This is a subtle shift in attitude but it matters. When you think of your customers as readers instead of customers, your focus shifts. You move from "getting a sale" to giving them the information they want and need in a way that will be interesting and even entertaining. Readers will pick up on this. We're psychologically savvy enough, these days, to know when we're being "sold to." And the truth is that we don't really like it. In fact, we resist, most of the time.
We don't resist entertainment, helpful information, genuine offers of help, or useful knowledge. Focus on providing those for your readers (forgetting for a while that those readers are or could become customers) and you'll write a better email.
One that your customers - er, readers - will want to read.
Imagine each email as a conversation.
That conversation is taking place between you and one reader. An individual. A person. Talk directly to that person. If it helps, think of one of your best customers. Or imagine an "ideal customer" and talk to him or her. There is no room for group speak or crowd appeal in an email marketing campaign, because that's not how we do email. We might be in a crowded environment while we're reading our email, but the reading itself is a solitary act. We read as individuals, not as members of a group.
"You" is the simplest and most powerful word you can include in your emails. Speak directly to that person reading, in a friendly but professional tone. Lean more toward friendly or more toward professional depending on the tone that fits better for how you do business. A natural conversational flow includes questions and answers; so think about the questions your reader/customer might ask, then go ahead and answer them as part of the email content.
Your subject line is your headline, so use it well.
If you can, make it catchy, brief, and clear. If you can't manage all of those, clarity is the highest priority. It doesn't matter how catchy your subject line is if none of your readers know what it means. They might giggle or grin, but they won't click through and open it, and that makes the whole thing pointless. Keeping your subject line brief is important; there are hundreds of other emails vying for attention in each reader's inbox. A short headline that a reader can scan and understand in a matter of seconds gives your email a better chance of grabbing and keeping attention.
Keep each email focused.
And make sure the focus is not on the neatest new feature of your product, or the latest, greatest service offering. Instead, the focus is and always should be on the problem - the main, nagging, constant problem - that your customers face. And you might point out, somewhere in there, how you can help them solve it. Remember that each email should not be about you or your business but about the reader. It's about the problem and solution. This is the formula that makes people pay attention; when you can talk genuinely and knowingly about a real problem they face, you get their attention. When you can then offer a helpful and practical solution for that problem, you get their interest.
Focus each email on a small, specific problem or on a single aspect of a bigger problem. You don't need a single email to cover all the possible territory, just a tiny bit of it. Each email is like a pointed little scouting trip, sent out to identify and describe one single aspect or instance of a problem-and-solution scenario. Keep the emails narrowly focused, long enough to make your point and no longer. The best emails are the ones in which you talk just as you would to a friend, or in a real conversation with a real customer. If you find yourself resorting to overused phrases, stop and ask yourself what you really mean. Then say that instead.