Email gives you the most direct way of communicating with your customers, and for converting prospects to sales … which is why the most savvy content marketers have no intention of giving it up any time soon.
It’s also amazingly cost-effective. With an ROI of around 3,800% (that’s $38 return for every $1 spent), email more than pays for itself. It’s what you use when you want to move from “conversation to commerce.”
Having a list of email address of people who want to hear from you is gold.
The secret to effective email newsletters is to mimic a one-to-one email conversation as closely as possible.
Any elements that make the recipient suspect that your message is one-to-many will reduce the impact of your message.
There are 6 questions you can ask yourself.
1. Is your “from” address a real person?
You probably have a full email box right now, right?
How do you prioritise what to read first?
Does the following order look familiar?
Email from people you know
Email from people you don’t know yet
Almost all email newsletters sit at priority #3 and so they never get read.
The secret is to move your newsletter into priority #1.
The first step to doing that is to ensure your “from” address for your email newsletters is a real person.
And definitely never “noreply@” (that is the worst of all)
Make it a real person.
2. Will your Subject Line attract a click?
Have you ever received an email newsletters with the subject line “November 2014 Update from xyz company”.
Did you feel the pressure to open it up immediately?
No, of course you didn’t.
A subject line like that just screams non-urgent. It can be safely archived or delayed until later (or never opened).
Pick one item from the things you want to say and use the benefits of that item in your subject line.
Just like the headline for this post: “Email Newsletters: 6 Tips To Get Your Automated Emails Opened, Read, And Acted On” you know what you’re going to get before you click on it, and your curiosity is peaqued.
Much better than “November 2014 Newsletter” don’t you think?
3. Which is better: designed or plain text?
Commonly, email newsletters are designed with these elements:
A colour scheme
A graphic header with your logo
1 or 2 columns of content
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Using these elements screams “this is not urgent, read it later!”.
To move your newsletters into priority #1 in your recipients inbox you need to mimic a one-to-one email conversation and that means you need to use plain text.
So stick to one item of news per email, or if you must say more, use sub-headings and numbered lists and bullet points to make it easy to skim read.
Personalise the emails too with the persons first name (my record is 7 times in one email).
All email clients like MailChimp, Aweber, iContact let you personalise the body in this way.
4. What action do you want them to take?
If you can’t answer this question, don’t even bother starting to write your next newsletter.
The action you choose has a huge impact on what you write.
For example, if you want old clients to call you with new business, then end your email with a question like “What do you think Jim? Shall we sit down next week to figure it out together?”
Then, if you know that’s your goal, you know your challenge is to write content that is persuasive and valuable and keeps them reading right until the end.
If you approach it from the angle “what do I have to say?” then you’re bound to go in the wrong direction.
Sometimes a softer approach is better than a hard-sell. I often use “what do you think?” as my last sentence. In that case, the action I want is for them to click “reply” and write a few sentences back to me answering a question I’ve posed.
5. Does your email signature make it easy?
Your regular emails have an email signature, so your newsletters should to.
Include all your phone numbers and details so it’s easy for them to contact you.
They can hit “reply” and email you straight back, or pick up the phone and call, or walk down the road and visit you.
Make yourself seem approachable.
6. Can they unsubscribe easily?
Ensure you make the unsubscribe link easy to find.
If you make it hard for them to unsubscribe:
They will resent you for sending information to them they don’t get value from
They will mark your messages as SPAM to get them out of their way (which ruins your email deliverability over time)
You will waste money sending your messages to people who don’t want them
You will falsely inflate the number of subscribers you have (A lower number motivates you to increase it. A higher number makes you lazy)
Video Of These Email Tips
I presented this list of email tips at a seminar recently. Here’s the video of that session.
and the occasional fax (I’m joking about the fax, it’s not the nineties anymore)
The pieces of work I create are as long as they need to be and often include all of the following components:
Headline: A headline dripping with benefits that leaves the reader hungry to read the rest
Highly personalised: In email newsletters I like to mention the recipients first name 7 times. In direct mail my record is mentioning their first name 16 times
Chatty and friendly: Written in a one-on-one style as if the two of us were sitting down over a coffee and having a chat. This decreases the distance between you and I
Compelling content: That tells a story and focuses on what you get out of the deal. It even addresses your objections before they form in your mind
A limited time offer: “Respond before 5pm Friday”, and/or a limited number of customers “Only 10 positions available”
A call to action: Eg choose between 3 packages with ascending prices and value. “Call 0800 123 123 to secure your position”
I put my heart and soul into this work.
I work on it like it’s a piece of art. It just has to be perfect before I’m happy to release it on the world.
And time and time again this work pays off, because it generates the responses/action/sales goals that I set for those pieces.
But sometimes, a client comes back and says that dreaded phrase “I think it’s too long, can you make it shorter?”
There are 2 reasons why clients say “I think it’s too long”:
Because they are not in the target audience (I’m not trying to sell your services back to you, I’m selling them to your prospects. It’s no wonder you aren’t captivated)
They are bored of simple explanations of what they do. This is what prospects that have never heard of you need, but you might be bored of simplifying your story
Because the fact is, if something is interesting to an individual, they will keep reading and keep reading and keep reading.
They are thirsty for the content, and they can’t stop because it tastes like cool water as they read.
Most novels take 4, 6, 8, 10 hours to read, right?
If you had just started a novel by your favourite author that you’d been waiting months to get hold of, and I told you that I had a one page summary in a sealed envelope and I tried to give it to you would you yell at me “Keep that away from me!! Leave me to read my book in peace!”
Sure you would.
Length isn’t important.
It’s the journey.
It’s the story.
So the next time you read an article in a newspaper, or an email newsletter, or draft copy from someone who is helping you write an email newsletter, and your first thought is “I think it’s too long”. Check yourself.
Why are you attracted to the idea of “email marketing”?
7 Reasons Why Email Marketing Seems Cool
Because sending emails is cheap (or free). It’s a cheap way to keep in contact with your customers
It’s scalable – if you double or triple the number of customers on your email database there is no extra effort for you
Because it reminds your customers about what you can do for them – it keeps your brand in their minds, it builds familiarity, relationship, trust
Because you could sell something directly
Because it’s fast. You can get your first response within minutes
Because it’s measurable. You can test various headlines and offers
Because it’s easy. You can do it yourself
3 Reasons Why Email Marketing Actually Sucks
Because most email software is actually hard to use (despite what they claim!)
Because it’s hard coming up with ideas for new content every week/month (exhausting!)
Because building up your list of subscribers is slow (and why do people keep unsubscribing anyway? Annoying!)
7 Components to Make Your Email Marketing Work For You
My philosophy with email marketing is very simple:
Make it obvious why someone should subscribe
Don’t expect sign-ups just because your email newsletter exists!
Provide at least 3 reasons why they should subscribe. If you can’t think of 3 good reasons, pack up and go home, email marketing is not for you
Make your emails really plain
Which types of emails do spend most attention to: Ones with fancy graphics and big logos, or ones that are plain text? Plain text! You always read those first and leave the fancy newsletters for last, if you have time
No header graphics. No logo. You have your “from” address and your email signature to remind them of your brand. That’s enough. (Remember, this email is about them, not about you!)
Make your emails really personal
Make the email a 1 on 1 conversation between you and your customer/client
Use the recipients first name at least 5 times. Not just “Hi Bob” at the beginning!
Make your emails as long as they need to be
State your point in the subject line, expand on the point in the body, close with a call to action
Tell a story that can be read from start to finish
Use subheadings and bullet points so readers can scan for things that interest them
Include a photo or 2 if you can. Even better, a short 30 second video summarising your message
Make it really easy to subscribe. Make it even easier to unsubscribe
Create links to your sign-up form everywhere: on your website, in your email signature etc
Put your unsubscribe link clearly at the bottom, or even better, as the very first sentence of your email – you only want people who are really interested in what you have to say so let the others go
Brainstorm 12 months worth of content ideas before you send your first email
Get your friends, family and existing customers to help you generate a huge list of ideas
Make your emails really cheap
My favourite email marketing software is MailChimp. It’s not super-easy to use but it is super cheap: completely free up to 1000 subscribers and 6000 emails per month
So have you tried email marketing yet? If not, why not?