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Email Marketing

Crafting an Email: introduction, getting unread email noticed

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Introduction

Crafting an Email

So far, we have gone through many steps that are preliminary to creating an effective email marketing strategy. But one of
the most important components to your entire email marketing strategy is the email itself. From the smallest details like
font to the greater scope like content, the email message you send out is going to be the most crucial element to getting
customers involved in your email marketing strategy. You must choose a layout that is appropriate and create valuable
content that interests the customer.

Customers are scanners of information. Getting a customer to actually sign up for your emails is just one hurdle to getting
him interested, so creating an email message that keeps the customer wanting more is an important next step. You must
create a brand and reassure the customer that your email is coming from somewhere trustworthy.

In this chapter, we will cover the basics of crafting an effective email. We will cover the smallest details as well as the
greater scope of your strategy. We will also periodically remind you of the E-Privacy provisions to keep in mind when
making your email messages.

Getting Unread Email Noticed

When a customer opens his email account, you are likely not the only entity sending him email. He is also likely to have
multiple messages waiting in his inbox that have not yet been read, so he is initially going to have to sift through it all to
see what is important to keep and what is disposable enough to move to his trash. Obviously, you do not want to be the
latter, so making an email that catches the customer's eye in the first place is important.

The first thing a customer sees about a message is the email header. The email header contains condensed, but pertinent
information including:

  • The "From" Line – This is the line of text which tells the receiver who the email comes from. Some ESPs
    allow you to have this line state the organization's name rather than the email address from which it is sent.
    This helps in identification for the customer.
  • The "From" Address – The "From" address is essentially the same as the "From" line in that it displays the
    same information. It is the email address from which the email comes from, but most email programs show
    this as the "From" line.
  • The "Subject" Line – This is the line that entices the reader to open up your email, giving a hint about what
    to expect in the message. Effective subject lines prompt audiences to take action immediately.
  • Portions of the Email Shown through Email Programs – This is the content of your message that shows up
    in some email programs. Usually it's the first line or two of the content. Not all email programs have them,
    so it is important to focus on creating eye-catching subject and from lines to initially get the attention of
    your readers. Still, if your content is valuable, this email program attribute can do nothing but help.

Below, we will discuss how to make the "Subject" and "From" lines much more eye-catching.

"From" Lines

From” Lines

Though it may sound like a simple task, making your "From" lines of emails effective is an involved process that helps build
trust between you and a customer and promotes familiarity with your customer. ESPs allow you to fill out information
that can be plugged into the "From" line. More importantly, it is quite beneficial when you go on specific campaigns and
want to change what the "From" line reads. There are a few things to consider putting in your "From" line.

  • Your organization's name – Putting a name in the "From" line of an email is all about recognition. For larger
    organizations, putting this name in the "From" line is important because it is what is most recognizable.
    However, you should also consider how your organization's name is displayed. Are customers likely to
    recognize the initials of your organization's name, or do they recognize the actual name more? Whichever
    people recognize more should be put in the "From" line.
  • The name of the company founder/president – This is more appropriate for smaller businesses that do
    transactions on a much smaller scale than large organizations. The connections a founder/president of a
    company conducts are much more intimate, so putting a personal name in the "From" line is acceptable and
    perhaps more appropriate than the business name.
  • Your name and the organization's name – Let's say you work for a large company and have done business
    with a client. The client will definitely know your company's name, but adding your name adds a little bit of
    personal intimacy because it conveys that it has come from a person and not just from an email list.
  • Your organization's location – This is more appropriate for larger organizations that have branches in multiple
    geographic locations around a nation or the globe.
  • Your website's domain name – Some organizations are more well-known for their online presence, especially
    in an increasingly online world. Use the domain name if you have a larger online presence, but include the
    organization name as well for customers to be more familiar with your brand.
  • Email address – Some organization decide to have their email address in the "From" line. This allows
    customers to know who to contact if they have any further questions. Your company, though, should have
    multiple email addresses specific to, for example, a certain department that sounds out certain kinds of
    emails. The email address in the "From" line should be clear and include the department name as well as the
    business name.

When considering what to put in the "From" line, keep in mind the current E-Privacy Directive provisions require you
acknowledge who you are clearly to the recipient. Recognition is not only a good marketing practice, it is a law.

"Subject" Lines

The "Subject" line is what will entice customers to read an email and take action. The "Subject" line will get readers to
open an email and read the content of an email. Coming up with an eye-catching "Subject" line can be effective, especially
since you have a limited amount of room to say what you need to say. Here are a few guidelines to follow when coming
up with an effective "Subject" line:

Subject” Lines

  • Get your point across – You might be tempted to write a lot of information in the "Subject" line highlighting
    the benefits of reading the email However, you have a limited amount of characters (between 30 and 50) to
    say what you need to say, so you must state something general but valuable. The highlights of your statement
    should be in the email itself, so be sure to state the broad claim or importance of your email. Are you
    having a sale? Is there a promotional event going on soon? Do you have an update on a blog? Is there a new
    product coming to your store? Simplicity is ideal, so state what you want to say and leave it at that.
  • Sense of urgency – Going along with the previous bullet point, you want to let the recipient know that what
    you are stating in the "Subject" line is valuable and worth knowing. A simple statement of fact is sufficient,
    but it is not always enough to get a person to read your email. Make sure they want to read it by intoning a
    sense of urgency with keywords and phrases. Instead of simply stating that a sale is going on, say that it is
    going on now and that it will only last through today or through the weekend. You can also incentive the
    "Subject" line by stating something secondary, like a promotional event where there is only one more chance
    to register for it.
  • Test your "Subject" lines – You may have to perform some trial and error with "Subject" lines when initially
    sending out emails. Here is one of the benefits of having organized, categorized email lists. What you can
    do is come up with multiple variations of a "Subject" line and send them out to different segments of a list.
    Tools for analysis will allow you to analyze the data and see which ones are more effective. We will get into
    analysis in the next chapter.

The "Subject" line, unfortunately, is one of the aspects of an email that you must tread carefully on to prevent spam
complaints. Spammers use a certain style that is distinguishable from more professional emails, so this style should be
avoided at all costs. Listed below are practices that you should NOT engage in:

  • Do not use excessive amounts of punctuation, especially exclamation points
  • Do not use obscure signs like $ or *
  • Do not put the recipient's name in the "Subject" line
  • Avoid ALL CAPS (it gives the appearance of yelling)
  • Do not use Re: followed by text (the only exception is if it's an actual response)
  • Do not use vague "Subject" lines
  • Do not have a blank "Subject" line

CAN-SPAM provisions in the US are targeted at this type of style, so it is important not to use it. This type of style misleads
the customer, which is one of the provisions that the law targets. Avoid these actions to prevent receiving spam complaints.

Email Content

Following the tips and guidelines of "From" and "Subject" lines should get your customers further into your email. Once
the customer has opened up an email, they have become significantly more involved in your organization.

There is still more for you to do, though. Enticing the customer with valuable and relevant claims is important, but
keeping them interested is even more so. In this section, we will discuss how to make your email content valuable and
relevant to the customer.

Branding

Branding is the use of graphic and artistic elements to give your organization a unique and consistent look. Branding also
extends to writing, especially when it comes to content driven marketing. Your writing is seen in blogs, websites, social
media profiles, and email. Though a more subtle form of branding, writing is a form of branding that should complement
the visual branding components. The important aspects to branding are that it provides the customer with:

Branding

  • Familiarity
  • Authenticity
  • Consistency
  • Personality
  • Distinction

Brands also come in the form of logos and colors. They are designed with the ideals of the organization in mind and
are used across all marketing media. Your emails are no different and should utilize branding when trying to reach out
to new and current customers. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when using your brand, especially in email:

  • Brand Reflects Organization Personality – Your logo and writing should be complementary to each other
    and accurately reflect the personality of the organization. Is your organization serious or humorous?
    Exclusive or inclusive? Professional or casual?
  • Use Logos – You should use logos through all media, and you should also include them in all of your
    emails. Put your logo at the top-left corner of a page where readers are most likely to see it. Using the logo
    consistently creates familiarity with your customer.
  • Use Logo/Organization Colors – Using colors that match your logo, or that are consistent with your
    organization, is key to making consistent content as well as unique visual content. Use these in your email
    for elements like borders or backgrounds. Fonts can also be a different color, but it is best to use darker
    fonts rather than lighter fonts. Additionally, make sure the colors of your website are also consistent with the
    colors of the email. Users may hesitate if they see an inconsistency in graphic design between the two.
  • Keep Written and Visual Elements Consistent – As stated before, branding extends to the visual and written
    elements of an organization. Be sure that your writing reflects the visual tone and use language that is
    appropriate. Another factor to consider is font. Make sure the style of font you use goes well in tone and
    appearance with the rest of the visual elements you have selected.

You may run across an instance where you have different email formats sent out for different situations. When you send
out emails to people, you want them to know the difference between a newsletter and a promotional offer. Having two
formats too similar or different from each other can create confusion, so you want to have both formats only modestly
different from each other.

One thing to consider is having your organization logo in the upper-left corner of both email formats while differentiating
the layouts. Colors can be slightly modified between the two, while images and written content can take on a different format.

Layout

layout

When customers open an email, they don't immediately start reading the text that contains the information you are
trying to convey. They look at the entire email as a whole, "reading" the layout from left to right, top to bottom. The top
left corner of your email is where the majority of people will view the email first, so put the most important pieces of
information there. The bottom right corner, however, is not as important. The visual experience of the customer is what
will entice the reader to keep looking and maybe even start reading the message.

Here are a few extra guidelines to take into consideration when laying out your email

  • Show Branding – If your audience is familiar with your organization and its brand, putting a logo or your
    organization name in the top left corner takes priority over anything else.
  • Headline – The headlines should appear as close to the top of the email as possible. Ideally, they should also
    be near the top left corner of the email.
  • Call to Action – The "Subject" line should already display what the call to action of this particular email is,
    but the call to action should also be displayed near the headline in the top left corner as well. The call to
    action should contain more information about the special offer since you are not limited in space like with
    the "subject" line.
  • Visual Anchors – Visual anchors are simple images or graphics that help emphasize important components
    in an email, such as a link to your website or to special coupons. Images or graphics like an arrow can be
    used to point the user to a desired location on the email. These should be placed closer to the top of an
    email.
  • Images – Images are a nice element to add to an email, but be careful about how big the image is. You do not
    want it to be so large that it covers half the page and makes the customer miss important blocks of text.

You should also be careful how you display the image in an email as well. Browsers should be able to read and display
appropriate file formats like JPGs, GIFs, and PNGs. You can convert images not in these formats using an image editor.
Also, limit the file size of the image by making the dimensions smaller and reducing the resolution to 72 dots per inch
(dpi). And lastly, never embed images in an email. This will make the message big and take more time to load. Instead,
store your images on a server and use an HTML line of code called an image reference to display the image.

Text

text

Of course, we cannot forget about the importance of an email's text. Not only should it be essential to this part of your
marketing strategy, it is also part of your region's SPAM compliancy law provisions in the sense that you must convey
certain types of information. This, of course, includes things like stating your location, the fact that you are advertising,
etc. It also requires that the information you state is not misleading.

Generally, you should balance out the amount of text and design elements in an email. Too much text is intimidating to
read while too many images are annoying. Focus on these areas of text:

  • Headlines – Entice the reader to read on. Create the sense of urgency like you did with the "Subject" line.
    Also keep branding in mind and think about your word choice and what you want to convey.
  • Paragraphs – This is where you will lay out the finer details of your email. Whether it is a special offer or a
    frequent newsletter, it should convey further what your "Subject" line and headline claimed first. Make sure,
    however, that your paragraphs are not too long and that you do not have too many of them.
  • Links – Your email should contain links for customers to be able to click to take that call of action you asked
    for. Make them clear to read and distinguished from the rest of the text. This is usually done by displaying
    the link with a blue font and underlined.

Fonts are another important component to the text of an email. Regardless of what the words say, the font of text can
give the words a meaning through the tone it conveys. You are free to use whatever font you feel is necessary, but try
to keep the amount of different fonts you use to a minimum. Headlines can have a different font than the body of the
text, but generally speaking, using too many fonts can feel overwhelming for the reader. Also use a font that conveys the
appropriate tone of your company. Remember that branding is still in play.

Linking

linking

One of the most important parts of the layout of an email is to provide links for your calls to action. The reason you
should include links is because you want the customer to become more involved by going to your organization's website
or social media profile. The links you provide should be clear and precise. This helps your email comply with CAN-SPAM
provisions, entices your customer, and simplifies your customer's understanding of your call to action.

You can use HTML to encode a link in your email and display it however you want. This comes in the form of the <a
href> tag and encodes a link so that all the customer has to do is click to get to the website you're directing him to.

Usually, the link displays the URL, but you can manipulate what is displayed with the help of the <a href> tag. While the
actual URL will be within the tag, you can type in whatever text you want between <a href> and </a> . This makes the
link appear as the text you typed in.

This is especially useful because some URLs end up being extremely long and you want to condense it for easier viewing.
Your displayed link text, just like the body text, should also be clear and precise. It should give the reader exactly what it
says it will and should not be misleading. Some examples include:

  • "Click here for more details"
  • "Read my blog for the latest updates"
  • "Email us at organization@domain.com"
  • "Retweet this"
  • " 'Like' us on Facebook"

Your displayed link text should also be distinguished from the body of your text. Most of the time, links are underlined
and blue. They also display a different color when they have already been visited by the user, like purple.

You can also use links to direct readers to other things like a file or certain parts of the email. Additionally, you can use
images instead of text to link a user to something in the email or on the Internet. Whichever you choose, be sure that it
is appropriate and clearly stated.


  1. Introduction to Email Marketing: what is email marketing?
  2. Using Email Marketing Software: email service provider, introduction
  3. Building Email Lists by Quantity: electronic communication, privacy
  4. Building Email Lists by Quality: introduction, list segmenting
  5. Crafting an Email: introduction, getting unread email noticed
  6. Analyzing and Tracking Your Email Marketing Strategy: introduction
  7. Resources: