Planning any special e-mail campaigns before the end of the fiscal year? This summer? If not, think about it. An e-campaign costs pennies on the dollar compared with print marketing. And the right message at the right time to the right market can empower your supporters to help you change the world.
Your success will be measured not by how many you send, but by how many get opened; then how many answer your call to action. Here are 10 basic tips to assure your email engages your audience. Oh, and I left an 11th tip out on purpose. It’s something that’s super important. If you think you know what it is, contact me with your guess. I’ll pick randomly from among the correct answers – the winner gets a 50-minute top-level review of their next e-appeal (a $200 value), at no cost.
TOP 10 TIPS to Assure Email Engagement
1. The subject line is the window into the message. Be sure it gives the reader a reason to open the email. Make it one or more of these things: exciting; urgent; specific; useful; compelling; emotional or funny. But don’t mislead. You have only a few seconds to capture attention. Subject lines with less than 50 characters have open rates 12.5% higher than those with 50 or more, and click-through rates are 75% higher.
2. Prime real estate is “above the fold.” This is sometimes called your header, and it absolutely must capture attention. Studies show that 51% will delete your email within 2 seconds of opening it. Aargh! Keep in mind the typical inbox preview pane will only show 30 to 40 characters (the typical mobile device shows around 15 characters). So make your lead-in count.
3. Don’t forget your pre-header. It’s an extra tool to convince your subscribers to open your email. What is it? It’s the snippet of text at the top of your email (or a link to the online version) that your subscribers see first, sometimes even before they open the email. Most email clients display it right after the subject line. This means if you’re using images, you absolutely must include an ALT description of the image for those folks (most) whose images are blocked. Talk to your IT folk, or read this article about pre-headers; then pass it along to someone for whom it won’t seem like Greek.
4. Have a stand-out, singular call to action. Something for your subscriber to act upon is critical to measuring engagement with your message. And ONE call to action will outperform many. Don’t overwhelm and confuse your readers with too many choices. Make sure your call to action is prominent so your subscriber won’t miss it or be confused about what action to take. This is not a place to be shy or subtle. And if the action is to DONATE, make sure there’s a clickable button that links to a campaign-specific landing page. It’s also advisable to include one or more internal copy links to click and give (a good place is in your P.S.) as well as information about how to download a donation form for those who prefer to send a check.
5. Include easy-to-use contact information. What if your reader has questions? Don’t make it difficult for them to connect with a live person. Provide a contact email and phone number – and not just your generic number. Give them a real person to talk with. Also be sure to include links to your web site and social channels.
6. Include a brief description of why you exist. This too often gets overlooked. Remember, you’re hoping folks will share this email. How sad if the ‘newbie’ on the receiving end has no idea what your purpose is. For them, the appeal is completely out of context. Your explanation can be discreet and in small font, just don’t forget to include it.
7. The KISS principle applies. Don’t load your email with too much information and/or images. The more that is crammed into a message, the more visually confusing it becomes for the reader. Folks should be able to scan the message easily, understand its contents and engage in the call to action.
8. Tell your story verbally and visually. Pictures are, indeed, worth 1,000 words. And you should have one or two. Or a link to a brief , compelling video (just be sure the reader can easily get back to the appeal page and to your donation landing page). But remember that many email providers block images. So your reader should be able to understand the gist of your message without having to click on “download images.” Again, when using images always fill out the ALT text with an explanatory phrase that let’s the reader know what the image is about (e.g., “First day in new home for rescued puppy”).
9. Assure layout and design are consistent with your brand. Hopefully folks trust you. They should be able to tell at a glance this email is coming from you. They’ll find that comforting. If they don’t recognize the email as something they’ve opted into, they’ll likely delete it before opening it. You’re done before you’ve begun.
Want to confirm that your email copy and design will create engagement? Do these two things:
(1)Ask someone outside your department, or even your workplace, to read it. If they look up at you with that ‘look’ – the one that says they’re painfully trying to think of something nice to say – consider a rewrite. Better yet, simply tell them what you were trying to convey; then write that down! It will need a bit of reworking, but we often convey messages verbally in a much more straightforward, compelling manner than when we take paper to pen (or fingers to keyboard).
(2)Send a test email to yourself on every device you can think of. How does it appear on a laptop? Ipad? Smart phone? technology strategist Cameron Lefevre points out it’s likely one-quarter of our subscribers are reading our emails on their mobile phones, and this number is growing quickly. So don’t let all your efforts go to waste [see Lost in Translation: When Email Hits Mobile, Then What?].
10. Plan ahead to measure – and use – your results. If you’ve never measured before, now’s the time to start so you can create a benchmark for future campaigns. Your campaign reporting provides a lot of valuable data. Are you learning from every campaign? Here are tips on what and when to measure.
Don’t forget to guess what tip is missing! I’ll reveal the answer next week.
Image created by ideagirlmedia