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Best Practices: Building a Better Email

Nowadays businesses use email communications more than ever and we think that emails and e-newsletters are fantastic – they are low-cost, effective and easy to produce.  With that said, we often times see companies making simple errors in their emails that could be impacting their results.

That is why we thought we would do a two-part series on email communication best practices. This post will be all about putting together content, or creating the email itself. The second post will be all about the email deployment and how to understand your email results.

When you are putting together your emails to send out, really think about how much content you are putting in them. Far too often companies send out emails with too much information. Really think about limiting how much detail you are including in the email and focus on the important highlights. For example, if you are including an offer (a discount on something or a giveaway perhaps) put the basics in the email – the expiration date, what they need to do to partake in the offer, etc. Then include a link to your website or Facebook page where you can include the details. (Or simply have people email you so you can answer any questions they may have.) A good rule of thumb with email communications is to include everything important “above the fold”. (This term of course refers to the top portion of a newspaper when the paper is folded in half – it is what people are most likely to read. As it relates to emails, “above the fold” means the area that people see when they look at an email without scrolling down.) The more people have to scroll, the less they are going to read.

Most email platforms (Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Emma, etc.) are going to include the mandatory elements that you need to send out emails but it is worth double checking. Make sure that all of your email communications have the “opt-out”, forward to a friend and update contact information links. Also, if you are actively using any social media for your company, make sure that you have those links for people to follow/like you as well.

Now, we cannot overstress this enough but it really doesn’t matter what you put in your email if your subject line isn’t a good one. The first rule of email communications is to get people to open your email! Most people will tell you that you need to avoid using certain words unless you want to get caught up in people’s SPAM folders. This is still true to a certain degree and you should probably avoid using dollar signs ($), percentages (%), exclamation points (!) and the word FREE. However, our recommendation is that you should focus on what is in the email and then find an efficient way to describe the content without being too pushy. Our friends at Mail Chimp offer this suggestion: “Don’t sell what’s inside. Tell what’s inside.”  A final couple of tips to use: try to stick to 50 characters or less and think about testing subject lines. Sometimes finding the right subject line can be a journey rather than a destination – you should never stop trying to top your best-performing subject lines.

Lastly, have fun writing your emails. If you enjoy writing them it is likely that people will enjoy reading them. (Some pictures wouldn’t hurt either.)

Stay tuned next week when we conclude our email best practices with tips on how to get your emails out most effectively and how to leverage your email results.

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