Secrets to Email Marketing, Part II

If you missed part I (which discusses subject lines), click here

Alright, so now we’re going to focus on the good stuff – the body of the email. You know, the part where you try to get the people click the thing to do the thing…and hopefully not suffer from “cart abandonment” (which I’m using to represent them not doing whatever it is you want them to do on your site – buy something, sign up for your email list, whatever).

How easy would life be if we could just write:

  • “Heyo! I’m selling widgets at 15% off and you want to come and stock up right now!”
  • “I have a new online course that teaches you X. Sign up right now.”

Because, ultimately, that’s what we want our pretty words to do, amirite? But, you know as well as I do from personal experience that we’re only going to buy those widgets if we use them enough to justify buying more even at a discount…and just saying “online course” does us no good. It could be an online course for underwater basket weaving for all we know.

Consider the Emails You Get Daily

Think about how many emails you get in a day. You know that you open certain ones either because of who sent it or because of the subject line that intrigued you. But…what gets you to follow through and at least look at the site? What really draws you in? Spend a couple of days locating phrases that catch your eye and jot them down in a notebook. You can use those as inspiration for your own email campaign.

Always Write for Your Audience

Just like with any other form of content, you must keep your audience in mind. This is particularly important with email marketing because there will come a time that you’ll segment your lists. This means that you have one main list and you break it down into a number of smaller lists based on various demographics or interests. Knowing and understanding your audience (and what they want) is the most important concept in email marketing. It will determine how you write your emails.

Design Is Important

Long gone are the days where people didn’t have (or refused to use) HTML-based email. I’m sure there are still a few die-hards that turn off that feature and stick to “text only.” I’m also sure that you’re probably using some sort of email marketing software that comes with preloaded templates. Choose the right design. It needs to be attractive to your audience and easy to read. You can learn about colors and fonts by clicking here. Oh, and just because someone says they are a “designer” does NOT mean that they have experience OR that they’re any good at properly designing email templates for use!

Stay Away from Certain Words

We talked about this a little bit when we discussed subject lines. Consider how many people you know with a gmail account or whose business email is still supported via gmail. I have gmail accounts and a business email that runs through them. Guess what? It’s not just the spam filter you have to contend with. You also have to worry about gmail automatically labeling your email as a promotion and it going under a promotions label instead of directly into the inbox. Now, I occasionally check out the promotions label because sometimes gmail will tag stuff that doesn’t really belong and toss it in there. I don’t know how many others do that.


Here’s HubSpot’s full list of words you should avoid.

What does this mean? Does this mean that it is harder to write an email that tells people what you want them to know? Possibly for some. It does mean that you have to think way outside of the box when you’re looking to bring people into your fold.

Write a Good Welcome Email

In a nutshell, a welcome email should (of course) welcome the reader to your list, explain how many times they can expect to hear from you, tell them you don’t sell your list (if that’s true), what they’ll get for being subscribed (deals, free stuff, whatever), and how they can unsubscribe. Also, stay away from no-reply emails. People should be able to reply and talk to you or someone at your business if they have questions or concerns. Don’t give them a separate email address – just let them hit reply.

Also, give them a gift for joining. This can be a free PDF, a coupon, or something that’s easy for you to create. This helps your subscriber list feel appreciated. Everyone loves getting free stuff.

Addressing Your Reader

When you’re creating your emails, make sure that you personalize them. Address the subscriber by their first name…and make sure it’s spelled correctly (if you’re doing it by hand) and that it has the correct capitalization. You can also use other forms of personalization like using their city or town. Just don’t go overboard and look like a stalker. Also, remember to say thank you.

Tell an Interesting Story

I’m willing to bet you an Internet nickel that many of the emails that make you click-through tell some kind of story. When I say “tell an interesting story,” I’m not saying you have to make up some short story or talk about the time in fifth grade where someone jerked down your pants in front of your crush in the middle of a lunchroom. No, I mean write something that your audience wants to read. For example, we’re closing in on Thanksgiving here in the US. And, yes, I know the intense mixed feelings it can cause given the facts that most of what we all learned about Thanksgiving as children isn’t true. However, I want you to think back to that time in second grade where you made a turkey magnet out of your hand print. What did Thanksgiving mean to the 8 year old you?

  • Uninterrupted time with family
  • Board games
  • The smell of grandma’s corn bread stuffing
  • Your Uncle Bob snoring in the easy chair with drool coming out one corner of his mouth while the Macy’s Day parade is on the television
  • The happiness on your mom’s face because everyone is under one roof
  • The way your three favorite aunts are devising a plan to elbow their way through certain stores for Black Friday

Whatever it is – you can find a way to tell a story around it that makes people want to click. The goal is to elicit certain feelings from your reader. The warm, fuzzy kind…the kind that says “I don’t want to get elbowed in the face by their three aunts on Black Friday so I’ll just buy from here.”

Capitalize on Holidays

I don’t care if you celebrate them or think they’re a big corporate sham…your feelings don’t necessarily dictate how your audience feels about holidays. Capitalize on holidays. Use festive themes. Send out good wishes. Provide coupons or free presents that make your subscribers glad they’re on your list.

Make Your Call to Action Easy to Find and Follow

The purpose of an email marketing piece is to get someone to open the email, read it, and click through to do the thing. Here’s the truth about readers. Yes, readers are still leaders. I mean, this piece is long and look at you, rockstar, you’re just eating it up! Most people scan…they don’t read. They also scan in a Z pattern. If I am really interested in your guide or online course and I’m busy, you wouldn’t want me to miss it, would you? Of course not. So, make your call to action easy to find (consider centering the words, bold print) and that the link you insert actually freaking works and takes them to the right page. And please, for the love of Elder Gods, make sure that your landing page is well designed, well worded, and easy to navigate! Make the CTA catchy: “Yes, I want to learn how to block Aunt Susan’s patented elbow to the nose!”

Use a Separate Soft Call to Action at the Bottom

You know what? Sometimes, your target market just doesn’t need to buy all those widgets today…but that doesn’t mean that you can’t gently direct them to something else! A soft call to action is a way for you to say, “Oh hey, by the way – here’s how you can learn to X!” And those words are linked out to something like a webinar, a free download, or even another email list (here’s how my three aunts literally trample the competition – and how you can defend yourself!). Uh, for the record – not my actual aunts. My aunts are too old for such shenanigans and would probably break a hip.

Don’t Be Afraid of Split Testing

Most people use a service like MailChimp (my favorite) to manage their email list. You can see all kinds of great data. It’s important to know how your email is performing. Don’t be afraid of split testing. What’s split testing? It means that you have two emails that have the same purpose: to get people to download your insider guide on how to avoid Black Friday Trample-fest hosted by your three aunts. So, you write two emails. You send one email to half of your list and the other email to the other half. You then look to see which email performs better. That will help you refine your email marketing and know which style your audience is more likely to click-through with.

Don’t Make Your Audience Sick of Your Face

Fatigue is a very real concept in email marketing. Do not send so many emails in a day, week, month that your audience gets sick of you and unsubscribes. Pay attention to your open rates, click-through rates, and the number of emails you send so that you can formulate the best possible plan.

Don’t Know Where to Start?

Email marketing can be a daunting task, I know. Here are a few places that can help you find at least one creative idea to get the ball rolling:

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