How to Write Emails that Make Subscribers Want to Open, Read, and Act

August 16, 2013

When it comes to email marketing, there’s a great deal of potential–for success, yes, but also for failure. An ineffective email won’t only fail to incite action, but even worse, it won’t get read, or even opened.

If you want to create an email campaign that incites action, encourages engagement and drives more business–you need to start writing great emails. And here’s how:

1. How to Write Emails that will get Opened

Email is a phenomenal way of reaching out to prospective customers, to leads, to clients, to coworkers and more. But today people’s inboxes are flooded with messages. Inboxes are congested with everything ranging from the urgent to the uninteresting to the downright obnoxious and getting your message to climb it’s way through the clutter (and the spam) to get seen and opened can be difficult.

Successful email campaigns start with something similar to the art of seduction. You need to seduce people into opening your emails, because the most important step in email marketing will always be to entice your audience to, well, open your email in the first place.

Try the following:

  • Use compelling language: Leverage power words, have clear calls to action, evoke emotion, or make an offer that can’t be refused. The point is to pique people’s curiosity, draw them in, get them itching to read your email.
  • Cut to the point: Subject lines are not the place for clever turns-of-phrase or witticisms. Keep it simple and direct.
  • Experiment with something new: Try testing out different subject lines, don’t be afraid to be a little different.
  • Learn from example: Analyze the email lists that you’re subscribed to and learn from the masters. What are they doing that works? What could they improve. Tailor their most successful strategies to your own campaign. Try to not only do what they do, but to improve upon it.
  • Provide value: This is the most important element in getting your emails opened. Show readers what you are going to give them from the get-go.

2. How to Write Emails Recipients Actually Want to Read

You don’t just want to write emails that your subscribers will open begrudgingly out of a boredom. You don’t want to write emails that recipients will open willingly, out of a small, nagging tinge of curiosity. You want to write emails that you subscribers won’t just read, but look forward to reading.

If you have a monthly newsletter, regular promotions, or even semi-sporadic updates, offers, industry-related news and more, the goal is the same: you want your subscribers to anticipate your emails, to be eager about them, to get excited.

  • Provide readers the most value possible: This is absolutely essential. Value is why your subscribers opened your email in the first place. Whether it’s information, entertainment, a discount, etc, everything in marketing comes down to an exchange of value–so give it to them. If you have nothing of value to offer, it’s a sign you shouldn’t be sending that email.
  • Keep it short: Everyone is busy and time is precious. When readerst’ll stop readers from jumping ship.
  • Write it quickly: Your first reaction to advice like this is probably skepticism. That’s understandable. Why on earth would someone recommend a rushed-job? While writing quickly can lead to more mistakes, it is also one of the best ways to write a piece of content with a natural flow, a colloquial tone, a personality that shines through and a sense of enthusiasm. Get your thoughts out, then edit.
  • Make it personal: Avoid automating your greetings. Don’t just make sure your personality shines through, make sure you address your readers individually too, or if that’s not possible, at the very least address them as a group in unique and engaging ways. Always try to use the word “you,” when possible.

3. How to Write Emails that Sell

Compelling calls to action should be a part of any email campaign. Everything from emails with offers obviously designed to encourage sales and promote products and services, to simple monthly newsletters–all emails should encourage some form of engagement and incite some form of action.

  • Make compelling offers: highlight a new product or service, offer a deal, a coupon, a special feature and more.
  • Create a sense of urgency: We all like to procrastinate, so give offers deadlines, make things available only for a limited time, and use action words like “now” or “today.”
  • Sell with a story: Don’t  try to sell to people straight away. The people reading your emails probably don’t appreciate being pitched to from the moment they open your message. Warm them up first, ease them in. Tell them a story of sorts, lead up to your sales message.
  • Have absolutely clear calls to action: Remove any barriers that could make it difficult for someone to take action. Make your calls to action clear, and any steps simple. Let people know why they should act and what to expect.
  • Tap into your readers’ risk-reverse mentality: We’re designed to avoid pain first and foremost, then seek pleasure. More people respond to risk-reversal, so try rephrasing a situation where a reader would receive a positive outcome, with one where they could avoid a problem. Let them know what they will miss out on if they don’t take action, for example.

By creating more dynamic email marketing campaigns, you can engage leads, maximize the value of your current customers, and increase sales. If you want to learn a little more about email marketing, you can read more about effective email marketing here.

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