Email remains near the top of effective marketing strategies in the industrial sector, but you won’t get positive results if you simply dash off a marketing email as you might any other email correspondence. Your marketing emails must be compelling, clear and concise. If you master these three C’s of writing, you can get an A in email copywriting. Open up your notebooks or favorite note-taking app. Time for your lesson:
1. Start with your subject line
When writing emails, we often save the subject line for last and dash off a few words that seem enticing enough for a recipient to open the email. However, along with the “From” line, which should include your company or brand name and/or a person’s name that your audience will recognize, the subject line contains the most important few words you will write. They are also the hardest words to write. Craft a short subject line with one purpose in mind: getting your recipient to open and read your email. You can do this by being relevant, benefit-oriented and instilling a sense of urgency or uniqueness.
2. Write clearly and concisely
A marketing email should be about one thing and one thing only: the offer you are making. Whether it’s to download a white paper, register for a webinar, watch a video, get a complimentary needs assessment or something else valuable to your audience, get directly to the point using as few words as possible to entice your recipient to click on your offer. You should focus on the single most important message. Delete any extraneous, unrelated copy.
3. Include a call to action, include it again
This advice may seem to run counter to the command for clear and concise writing, but your email is all about your call to action. Put your offer near the top, and again in your closing. Make the call to action so compelling your recipient would be foolish not to accept it. Write the call to action in linked text and also create a linked graphic (such as a button or other image). “Learn more” is not a call to action.
4. Focus on benefits, not features
Think of it this way: It’s not bells and whistles that customers care about; it’s the lovely sound the bells and whistles make. That’s the difference between features and benefits. Convince your audience they will benefit from accepting your offer: they will learn how to save time, they will discover a better way of doing something, or they will solve a pressing problem. Make the benefits clear (and concise). Put them in bold text or a bulleted list for easy reading.
5. Answer this one question
If you’re having trouble getting to the heart of the message you need to convey, make sure your email answers this one question that every recipient has: “Why is this important to me?” If your copy clearly delivers a compelling answer to that question, you will see your click and conversion rates go up.
6. Write different versions
If you are marketing to more than one audience, don’t send them all the exact same content. Since the call to action is the same, different versions you write for each audience might be very similar, but a few copy changes can mean the difference between success and failure. Identifying your audience by title or the type of work they do, re-wording or re-ordering the list of benefits, or changing the headline to focus on each audience’s number one motivator are all good ways to optimize the different versions.
Many a promising email ends up failing when your audience discovers a typo or writing error. Those kinds of mistakes tend to undermine your entire effort, because it’s like saying you’re not careful or don’t care, a message that your audience can connect to your company, brand or products. It’s not enough to use spell check; you must also look for punctuation problems, awkward grammar, and misused words. Have someone else proofread the email. It’s very difficult to catch your own errors because you’re so close to the work.
8. Test, test and test again
Following these steps to perfection will mean nothing if your link directs to the wrong landing page or is broken. While you’re on your landing page, complete the process by filling out the form or downloading the content being offered. Does it work the way it should? Is the form data (if you're using a form) being captured correctly in your back-end systems? Also, how does your email look in Outlook and the other popular email clients your audience uses? Does your audience read your emails on mobile devices? If so, how does it look on a smart phones and tablets? Take the time to test, make adjustments and test again until you have it right.
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What tips for writing effective emails would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.