Effective Email Writing

Effective email marketing writing is persuasive to your subscribers, enhances your image and credibility, and adds clarity to the message in your newsletter. Even the most eye popping graphics and layouts will lose their appeal if subscribers are presented with writing that is shoddy or substandard.In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin bellows the following advice to his hapless sales team; “A-B-C. A-Always, B – Be, C-Closing! Always be closing!! A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, decision, action.” AIDA is an acronym used in marketing that is short for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Recently I’ve heard it applied to email marketing as well.

Attention – Grab your subscriber’s attention with an engaging subject line so they open your mailing. This is your invitation to your subscriber to hear what you have to say. Once your newsletter is opened you can also get your subscriber’s attention with the appearance of the newsletter as well as the headlines and lead sentences. You may want to think of this as your pick up line or your “hook”.

Interest - If you are meeting someone for the first time and all you do is talk about yourself then you shouldn’t be surprised if that person gets up and walks away. This could be the point where your subscriber quits reading your newsletter or they opt out of your list altogether. However, if you include a person in your conversation then they are going to want to stick around. Focus on advantages and benefits as they relate to the substance of your communication.

Desire – Strong interest yields to desire. Use the power of persuasion in your conversation now that you have your subscriber’s interest. The better you can relate to someone in your conversation, the more they will want to hear. Use the body of your newsletter to convince your subscriber that you have what they want and they will feel a need for what you are offering. You are writing to build up motivation for your subscriber for what you are offering with your newsletter.

Action – Your newsletter should have a purpose and your writing should lead your subscriber to a clear call to action. You’ve now convinced your listener that you have what they want. Make it easy for them to do something about it! This action could be clicking on a link, purchasing a product, or even replying to your newsletter. You should structure your mailing in a way that is likely to generate a direct response from your reader.

Now, a word about subject lines or what we have noted as your all important hook. While you want to make this interesting enough for your subscriber to have a reason for opening your mailing you are going to want to exhibit caution. Think of the subject lines that you see in your spam box. You are going to want to be weary of using dollar signs, too much punctuation, or appearing needy as these are often techniques used by spammers. The subject line is important because you do not want to ruin the integrity of your list by being seen as spam. If you google top 10 spam subject lines you will get a good idea of what you want to stay away from.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your subject lines consistent and familiar to your subscribers. You can start with the same words so that your recipients recognize you. For example, “Emercury Newsletter: Name of the Newsletter” as a lot of email clients will cut off the end of the subject line. Try to keep the length of your subject line below 50 characters. Some internal testing may come in handy to see the maximum number of characters you can use before the subject line is cropped. You need not worry about this too much as you want to use as many characters as is necessary to get your subject across. The trick to writing a good subject line is to appeal to your subscriber’s interest which should be some combination of your target audience and relating the purpose of the newsletter to their needs.

There are many stylistic ways of holding your subscribers interest. Be succinct in your writing. This means giving your subscriber relevant information in as few words as possible. The more succinct your writing is the more weight your words will carry.
Include the most important parts of your newsletter in the beginning. Subscribers will read the introduction first before they decide whether the rest is worth their time. Many subscribers are going to scan through rather than read everything you write in your newsletter so arrange your text accordingly. This may include using dashes and bullet points as well as blocks of text rather than chunky paragraphs. You would write a newsletter differently than you would write a term paper or a thesis.
You can also engage your subscriber’s interest by using the active voice in your writing. This conveys a powerful message because when the verb of a sentence uses the active voice, the subject is doing the acting. When you use the passive voice the subject is being acted upon which can make your writing sound weak.

Keep your newsletter personal. Make your subscriber feel as though you are talking directly to them. One obvious way to do this is through using personalization tags such as the subscriber’s name.

Write to your audience. You can find out more about your subscribers demographic by using a tool such as A/B split to find out what your subscribers respond to. You do not have to be overly formal as in traditional business or marketing writing. It is perfectly alright to be irreverent at times so long as you are not overly casual and risk setting the wrong tone for your audience. It is important to know who your subscribers are before setting a tone for your audience. Remember you can set up separate mailings that target specific market and customize each campaign accordingly.

You’ll need to take in a few more technical suggestions into considerations with your newsletter. It’s best to avoid URLs altogether in your links. If you do use URLs in your mailing make sure that is reduced in length and that it fits on a single line. If you must use two lines for your URL then tell the subscriber how to piece the composite URL in their window. Also along those same lines, be sure to wrap all text at 68 characters per line. Although all email clients vary, all email applications will correctly display text at 68 characters or less per line. Also many email readers will only read ASCII characters. Be sure to avoid the use of “smart quotes.” Use a text editor and not a word processor when composing your messages.

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