Email marketing: 8 steps to success

| November 11, 2009

It takes skill and dedication to make email marketing a financial success 

Here are eight of the best copywriting-related tips, from a freelance copywriter with twenty years’ direct marketing industry experience.

1. Segment your target audience – Your target audience might logically split into segments, each of which will respond to a different take on your sales message. Get it right and you’ll save money, save time and enjoy better response rates.

For example Chocolate. People of all ages love chocolate but the adult chocolate experience is very different to a child’s. Chocolate is often sold to adults on the basis of sensuality, luxury and indulgence. While a child’s chocolate experience is all about fun, happy times and treats. You can imagine how spectacularly wrong your campaign would go if you offered chocolate to kids using a sensual message and semi-sexual imagery!

2. Create strong, inspiring titles, headers and sub-heads – If your email title isn’t attractive enough, people will press delete without opening it. When emailing existing customers, make it clear in the title that you already have a relationship with them. Always make your offer crystal clear in you title, for example: ‘Brilliant customer offer from the Good Taste Curtain Company’.

Once your snappy title has encouraged people to open your email, reinforce the message and sock ‘em with an irresistible header. Then use strong subheads throughout the body copy to help you emphasise your points in readable bite-sized chunks.

3. Grab attention with an up-front call to action – Obviously people start reading from the top of an email. So place a short, succinct call to action at the top of your email
as well as using it to round off the message. This saves readers having to scroll down to the bottom to find out what you want them to do. Every little helps.

4. Focus: don’t get lost in space!  – Put your message across using short, clear statements. Just like with direct mail, people tend to skim read emails. They only digest the blindingly obvious points. So use simple things like lists and bullets to help keep your message under control. Email is no different from direct mail in that people won’t bother to wade through piles of irrelevant stuff to find your message. Make sure you focus on things that are of direct interest to your market. For example, you might find your
company’s history fascinating but your customers don’t care. They just want to buy your stuff fast and easily.

5. Don’t exaggerate. And no fibbing! – People aren’t daft so don’t make rash, unrealistic or inaccurate promises. It might work well as a one-off but if you fib, you won’t get repeat business from the people you’ve misled. Nor will they recommend you to their friends. Set realistic expectations and readers will be more likely to believe you.

‘KY Control Pants will make your bum look tiny even if it’s the size of a fully grown bull elephant’ might work once but complaints from the vast-bottomed, angry and disappointed
will soon start to flood in and response will plummet.

6. Hammer home the key points – There’s not much room in an email for repetition. But repeating your key points for emphasis will help hammer the message home. Keep it simple: repeat your best key point – the one you’ve used in your header or title – in the body copy as well as in your final call to action.

7. Be friendly, human and approachable – Don’t write in business language. Email is a highly personal medium. To engage with readers, write the way you speak
(provided you’re sufficiently literate!). It’ll help you create a closer bond with people and gain their trust.

8. Keep it short – very short!

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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