Do Not Ignore…How Your Email Gets Attention

Yes.  For email marketers, writing a subject line that gets attention is important.   An instruction (Do Not Ignore), especially if it’s followed by three dots… will generally get the recipient to open your email.

Writing an email with content that captures attention, captivates the imagination, and drives your prospect to action is just as important.  I would say that it’s more important, but great content that doesn’t get looked at…isn’t very important at all now is it?

Graphic design and layout are important…but not critical.  Let me repeat that…pictures and other support images  are not critical.

So what are the primary writing rules for email content?  Let’s go through them.

Before we talk about writing rules, though, let’s dispose of the housekeeping rules.  The primary housekeeping rule is easy…don’t spam.  Use permission-based email marketing manners all the way through.  Get permission, double check for permission, find out what your prospect and customers’ preferences are, and only send emails that measure up to their expectations. 

Don’t share your subscribers email or other information with anyone else…without their explicit permission…don’t sell your lists.  Make sure your privacy policy is readily available, easily found, and mentioned in every email, along with the opt-out information.  Make sure that if anyone opts out, or un-subscribes, they actually get deleted from your email list.

There, we’ve disposed of the housekeeping rules.  Not so bad, eh?

Now, then, let’s talk about the rules of writing.  Writing the kind of email that will get opened, read, and acted upon.

Rule #1:  Write a subject line that gets your email opened.

An instruction, a benefit, an end result…in as few words as possible, run through the “spam-o-meter” (spam  filter software).  It must be  both intriguing and inviting.

Rule #2:  Write content that stands alone.

When your email is opened, the content must immediately deliver the message.  Your graphics may not display when your prospect or customer opens the email. If the content and graphics display immediately that’s great.  Your design features, and great graphics can really support what you’re saying.  Just don’t count on it. 

Rule #3:  Keep it short. 

Three paragraphs of content with bullet points to highlight the emotional impact…what the purchase of, use of, or change to…will do for the recipient.

Rule #4:  Have a clear call to action. 

 “If you want to see results within six weeks, order [this] now.”   Not every message needs a call to action.  Sharing information without a call to action builds relationship…if it’s of value to the recipient.  The email messages that do ask the recipient to take action, however, should have clear, actionable links and convincingly demonstrate the benefits they’ll get by taking action.

Like all proffers of advice, though, this one should be kept in context.  Rules are made to be broken. 

Not the housekeeping rules…knowing and applying the CAN-SPAM requirements  will keep you from ending up in the cyberspace garbage can instead of the inbox where you wanted it to go. 

But writing rules are broken all the time…in the right circumstances.  Until or unless you know exactly what circumstances those might be,  the writing rules I’ve set out are proven winners…and you can take that to the bank.

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