What’s the difference between a great email marketing strategy and spam? It’s no gimmick or shortcut; it’s the reader’s opinion. After taking just one look at your email, the reader decides whether your brand has something to offer, or whether you’re just another “unsubscribe.”

How do you know which email marketing strategies are effective? What drives online readers to click that satisfying, all-important ‘open’ button? Having the answers to these questions is the key to email marketing success.

Let’s take a look at three powerful elements which contribute the most to effective email marketing:

  1. Strategy
  2. The Copy
  3. The Offer.

Strategy: Focus On Your Readers​

For any successful business, starting with a customer is vital. If your business doesn’t have customers, it doesn’t really exist. Your customer is king (or queen). And when it comes to email marketing, nothing could be truer.

Some companies will only monetize their email list. That is, they’re only interested in you giving them money or buying their products by way of that ‘one click’ (where the customer can choose from a number of options).

But, unless you’re writing an in-depth report, no one wants to read a sales letter. And if you do find readers who want to do this, it’s probably time to get out of marketing, and into a new line of work. Instead of viewing your subscribers as numbers on a spreadsheet or leads for your products and services, remember that these people are real people with real lives. They have hobbies, they have problems – like everyone else – and they need help with these problems.

Think about popular online publications. These brands are successful because they build connections with their readers. The content in these blogs and magazines is usually useful, interesting or entertaining. The value is apparent to readers, and that makes you more trustworthy.

Here’s what you can do: Start your email marketing strategy by developing a compelling narrative around your industry. The most effective marketing starts with the reader’s needs as a story, and then builds up to your product, services or company as the solution to this problem. This causes people to close the gap between their own problems and your brand’s solution through action (i.e., opening an email).

The Copy: Say What You Mean​

An effective email marketing strategy doesn’t just begin with the reader, it also extends to the language used. Take a look at this excerpt from an email newsletter by NewsCred, a business content curation service:

“We are excited to announce that the third in our series of digital books, Digital Trends for 2016 (Facts & Figures) is now available on Amazon! The first two editions of Digital Trends (2015 and 2014) have been read by thousands of professionals around the world and we are extremely proud to bring our readers a third volume for 2016.

In this latest publication, we discuss how the world has changed over the last 15 years, what will happen in 2016 and the trend that is likely to be most disruptive in 2016. Throughout this book, we have also included a number of fascinating articles and statistics relating to digital marketing trends.”

This is a well-written piece of copy, clearly outlining what is being offered. It’s short and well-organized. The language used is simple (and sometimes even humorous), yet everyone understands what it’s trying to say. This is crucial for an email marketing strategy – people must understand your value proposition.

Here’s another piece of effective copy:

“Say hello to your new preschool director! Mrs. Peabody has been here for almost a month and already everyone feels like family. She is such a kind, caring individual with a passion for early childhood education. Her experience, enthusiasm and dedication are second to none and she has helped us shape our preschool program into something we are very proud of. Mrs. Peabody is excited to meet you and your children soon, so be sure to stop in the office on your way in!

Come meet Mrs. Peabody at our Open House! We would love to share all that we have done together as a school family this year.”

The above example conveys the same message as the NewsCred newsletter earlier: “We’ve added another head honcho. We’ve made our program better. Now is the time to visit!” Both pieces of content are powerful, and yet are very different in tone and style.

There’s no wrong way to write your copy. Copy must be grammatically correct, but it doesn’t have to be boring. And remember; clarity and honesty always wins out over filler words – like “um,” “like,” and “you know.”

Make sure you can communicate your message as clearly as possible. And that means: Don’t waste space by using long paragraphs or unnecessary adverbs. That’s what they’re there for! Save them for future uses, such as making a point when you know people won’t get it or can’t see it for themselves.

The Offer: Don’t Make It Too Short​

“We’re seeing two types of ads. One, which is far too short. And two, which are far too long.” – Jeremy Simmons, a former advertising director

It’s so easy to be swept away by the urgency of “one more thing,” and the allure of “we’ve got more budget for this!” And yet, neither one of these offers would be suitable for an email marketing strategy. (Just saying.)

Your email should always include basic information about who you are and what you do in relation to your reader’s needs. But you should always include a call-to-action – or an offer – to draw your customer closer to your business.

The best offers for email marketing aren’t too short. They’re just long enough to get people interested in what you’re offering:

“This year’s summer sale is here! Save big while stocks last.”

Or if you’re talking about actual products, simply state the product and how much it costs:

“10 percent off our best-selling monitor this weekend!” (For example.)

Short email marketing offers can be effective, but they won’t require much thought or action on behalf of the reader. That means they might get read and forgotten fairly quickly.

The most effective email marketing strategy uses a strong subject line, easy-to-understand language and an offer that encourages continued action from your reader. At the very least, it will get them to open and read the body of the message. And from there, your marketing can take off!

Interested in reading further into email marketing and design? Email Design: The 10 Top Trends for 2021 discusses the top trends when designing an email in 2021.

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