How to Write a Marketing Email
Think email marketing is dead? You’re wrong! In fact, I feel businesses will use email marketing more often and more effectively in the next 10 years than they have since the beginning of the internet. Here’s why…
First of all, email marketing is cost effective. Companies often report that email is their best marketing channel in terms of ROI. And if you’re still not convinced, email helps build new relationships, but more importantly new revenue. 70% of people say they always open email from their favorite companies. And probably the best reason email will continue to be so successful; is its ability to nurture repeat business from your existing customers.
Email is Cost Effective
Email Marketing has an avg. ROI of $38 for each dollar spend. One in 5 companies report an ROI of over 70:1. (DMA National Email Report 2015)
Email Reaches Your Customers
70% of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. (Exact Target)
Email Nurtures Contacts and Encourages Repeat Business
In 2014, email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States. (eMarketer)
So we agree that email is an effective tool, or at least I hope we do. Rather than ramble about its effectiveness I’m going to focus on the how to design a marketing email.
Let’s begin with what size your email should be. The answer is somewhere between 550 and 640 pixels. 640 was the magic number before the iPhone got larger screens. Now the number is closer to 600. As long as you make sure you are under the 640 mark you should be in good shape. You can calculate pixel size using a tool like Photoshop, or an even easier way is to download a browser plugin like MeasureIT for Firefox or Chrome. This will let you drag a virtual ruler over your creative and measure in pixels. As far as height, you don’t need to worry about that as much since email templates typically scale vertically. However, you will want to consider how much your audience needs to scroll. Just make sure you keep your important content up top.
The other spec to consider is file size. Make sure the size of your html email file is between 15 and 100 kilobytes. Files larger than that can get caught in SPAM filters and experience delivery problems.
As far as designing the rest of your email, here are 12 essentials included in a successful marketing email.
1. From Name
The From Name is essentially the name of the sender. That name could be a person or it could be a brand, business division or even a company name. While it sounds simple, the From Name is one of the most overlooked aspects of email marketing. Consider this 43% of email recipients click the SPAM button based just on the From Name. Here’s a tip, if you are sending an email to existing customers and a contact has had the same customer service rep for the past 10 years, it probably makes the most sense to have the From Name be from the customer service rep your audience will recognize. Otherwise you can use your company name if you feel your audience is more likely to take action when seeing your brand is sending the email rather than a specific person.
2. From Address
This is the email address that the email will appear to have been sent from. Similar to the From Name, the From Address can be an email address of a person your audience will recognize. Otherwise it can be a general company email address, or more specific to a division or communication stream. Always make sure the From Address is related to your From Name, as they should work together. An incorrectly configured From Address is one of the quickest ways to land all your emails in the JUNK folder, so make sure you work with your IT team to configure this correctly. You can test your From Address set up using services like senderscore.org, type in your domain name and it will tell you what issues you may have with deliverability based on how your From Address is setup.
3. Subject Line
I’m sure you’re already familiar with Subject Lines, but here’s more info just in case. The primary goal of the Subject Line is to describe the email’s main offer. Remember, shorter subject lines tend to perform better because of the explosion in mobile email views. Long subject lines tend to get cut off on mobile devices. When writing your subject line, make sure you include the main offer in the first 35 characters.
4. Preheader Text
Preheader Text is simply the first line of actual text in your email. It’s important because it appears on the preview pain of your email client along with From Name and Subject Line. The Preheader Text is a great opportunity to capture your readers’ interest. And don’t forget to keep this concise as well – under 50 characters works best. Make sure the first line of text in your email is not something like – If you are having trouble viewing this email click here. This gives the reader absolutely no extra value in why they should open and read your email.
The Header generally includes the company’s logo and provides branding on your communication. Narrow images work best for the header (less than 75 px). The reason is simple, a narrow header allows you to keep the valuable body copy and call to action above the fold.
The goal of the Headline is to communicate the offer. You want the Headline to gain enough attention from the reader that they invest additional time in reading the body copy. Try and keep your headlines under 40 characters and on one line if possible. Headlines should also use at least 30 pt font for readability on mobile devices. And remember, never embed your headline in an image!
7. Body Copy
The Body Copy should provide just enough information about your offer that the reader is motivated towards your Call to Action (CTA). You can easily increase readability in your Body Copy by using sub-headlines, lists and bullets. This makes it easier for readers to skim content. An additional Tip is to also include text links in your Body Copy that convert to your offer.
8. Heroshot Image
A Heroshot is an image that relates to your Body Copy and offer but sells or draws attention to the CTA. Your Heroshot should show additional detail about a product or improve relevance about a service. There are two types of Heroshots, a product or a lifestyle.
A product Heroshot is just that an image of the product. A lifestyle Heroshot shows the experience that the product offers. My recommendation is to tell a story with your Heroshot by combining a product and lifestyle image – use this scorecard to plan your next Heroshot Image.
9. Call to Action (CTA)
The CTA is the primary purpose of your email, at least it should be. If you do not have a clear CTA or ask from your audience why send the email? Email CTA’s are almost always a click with the request to take some specific action such as Download, Register, Review, Purchase, etc. But in some cases it could be to take other action such as Call or Schedule an Appointment. Keys to creating a good call to action are utilizing contrasting color for your CTA Button. The CTA Button should stand out from the rest of your email. It should draw all the attention. The wording should also show some aspect of urgency.
10. Secondary Content
Secondary Content includes all other content areas typically below your Body Copy. It can be one section or multiple segments – just don’t exceed three secondary content areas. More than that can greatly distract from the main Body Copy and CTA.
11. Recapture Area
The Recapture Area provides additional, relevant content. It’s there just in case the Body Copy, CTA and Secondary Content was not suitable for the reader. The Recapture Area usually includes links to high traffic areas of your website or customer service links.
Hopefully knowing these 12 essential elements will help your future email campaigns. My final thought is that email marketing is an extension of your brand – remember that! Before hitting send on your next campaign, make sure everything is topnotch before sharing it with the world. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget something as simple as spell check.
And if you’re looking for more info, here are some additional articles on email marketing.
Anatomy of a Marketing Email eBook
Win-Win Value of Email Marketing
The Greatest/ Worst Email Marketing Message I have Ever Received
Animated GIFs in Email Marketing – Novelty or Utility?
Email Marketing is Antiquated? Think Again!
Energize Your Engagement with Mobile Friendly Email