Effective E-mail Marketing : The Art of Getting People to Act to Your E-mail Copies

This morning, as I was in the process of eating my breakfast, a vibration startled me. There, sitting on the table beside my plate, my smartphone went alive. I looked at the automatically lit screen and I saw a newly received e-mail. The subject line read "Why this guy is still totally poor." The curious sub-consciousness of mine woke up from her deep slumber and ordered my brain to make my finger slide open the screen lock and read the mail.

And just like that, the owner of that e-mail made me read his entire sales pitch. And because of how articulately the whole promotional message was presented, I ended up viewing the follow-up blog. That is the power of a compelling subject line of a killer marketing e-mail.

Marketing and/or promoting anything, be it a product, a skill, a tangible or intangible entity, has always been an art relying entirely on the shoulders of creative approaches aided by a little rampaging of the human psyche. To understand what the people want to see and then to use that very element to sell something is one of the few golden rules of marketing.

E-mail marketing uses this very rule to make money. A regular office employee receives about 80 e-mails per day. This number involves personal emails, marketing emails, and social emails. However, most of these end up being overlooked. Or being spammed. Why? Because the writers of those e-mails bore the reader.

To be able to gain something as seemingly unimportant as a click, you, as a copywriter, have to be painstakingly precise. What the recipient wants to read is way more relevant than what you have to say for yourself.

So let's talk about things that can make people notice your e-mails and then act upon them.

Do Not Screw up the Subject Line

Because there is no bigger mistake that you can commit while preparing a marketing e-mail. The subject of an e-mail, especially an e-mail that has to serve like an online salesman, has to be interesting. It has to be something that demands to be noticed. It can be weird like "ahh! Can't write today." Or it can be a chuckle-worthy one like "Getting everyone together: now less obnoxious."

The idea is that a subject line is what you, as a recipient, will see before anything. If it doesn't appeal to you, you wouldn't spare the e-mail another glance. Here are a few tips on getting that subject line right.

  • Personalize the e-mail.

    Segment your outgoing emails according to your target. Because it would madden you to receive a message prompting you to buy a house when your reason for signing up for the newsletter was in order to sell a property.

    A study by the Direct Marketing Association has revealed that targeted marketing has gathered 58% of all revenues of the marketers. This ought to tell you that any promotional e-mail has to be important to its audience.

  • Call for action.

    Actionable words or actionable meanings, both work in a subject line. Tell your recipient audience what the mail is meant for. Use verbs because they are the most literal way of calling for action. Use lines like "Take mom to brunch" or "Get your house designed in 10 days."

    But of course, without verbs, this game is more fun. You can use words to construct a different kind of sentences and thus be able to extract different kind of reactions, all positive obviously.

    Consider "The floating house." A little bizarre, a little attention catching, isn't it! It gives you something to think about and you end up opening the mail to read about the house that floats.

  • Be clear. Be catchy. Be brief. And do it in the order mentioned.

    You have to be clear. A confusing subject line can be devastating for any business. If I understand what I am going to get by reading your mail before diving in, I will be at ease. And that is important, you know, to make sure your recipient gets a clear idea of what you are talking about.

    So be clear first. Then, be catchy. A fun line is always welcome. A wonder-inducing or chuckle-inducing one is also very much appreciated. But you cannot compromise clarity for catchiness. Never! And of course. Be brief. It's a form of smartness. Tell stories in as few words as possible.

  • And don't make promises that you can't keep.

    Don't say "Get the cheapest tickets for Shahrukh Khan's live show here' and then have your mail telling the reader that the ticket is twenty thousand rupees. Be consistent. Align your e-mail body with your subject line. Don't sell apples in your mail text when your mail subject is selling grapes.

Enough about the Subject Line. Let's Move to the Mail Body

Once you have managed to get the recipient to click on the subject line, the game gets intense. It can go into any of the following two directions from here.

1. The mail recipient will read the mail body, be impressed, buy whatever you are selling and everybody goes home happy.
2. The mail recipient realizes that your mail body text is nowhere near what the subject line promised, gets disappointed,then gets angry, ends up vowing never to click on any of your emails ever again.

So you see, consistency is crucial to maintaining a particular level of quality while writing the main body of a marketing e-mail. Don't do what Mr shoe maker here did. Exactly!!!

  • Tell your audience how you know them. Because it will spook you if you receive an e-mail where the sender knows your name, address,your spouse's birth date and is reminding you to get your tickets booked on time for the drama you have wanted to take her to on her birthday when you have no inkling of who the sender might be. Begin the body by introducing yourself. A tiny 'Greetings from XYZ' would do. Just don't forget this part.
  • Make a brief explanation of why you are in the mailbox of your reader. Brief being the keyword. And explanation being the key. Avoid recounting the features of your product or service. Go straight to the benefits. Simply because if you are taking out time from your schedule to read an e-mail sent to you by, say a clothing line, the first thing you'd want to know will be: what will you gain from it? The second thing you'd want is to get the answer to your first question as quickly as possible. This means making sure that the body stays short and to-the-point.
  • Make your message scan-able. Because most of the times, people like to look at a message, scan it from top to bottom before you can spell bottom, and be done with it. Have words that catch attention. Have actionable phrases like 'Join Us','View Offer', 'Get the Deal' and such others in big button-like or bright coloured boxes. But of course, try to keep it to a certain level of decency. Don't bedazzle your reader to the point where they can't stand looking at your mail because it looks like a colour shade brochure.
  • Use second person. More 'you', less 'I/we'. This is crucial from the point of value-building. Making things about the reader is significant because it will make your reader feel important. Consider an example. "We have jackets that shine and we have woven them into the best fabric ever touched by a living person. Now consider its rewritten form. "Don the best fabric known to mankind. You will shine just as this jacket does when you add it to your wardrobe." You see the difference? Your reader should be able to take away a message from your text that clearly states the advantages of a deal with you. Writing in the second person elevates the clarity by lifting it to the level of individual connection.
  • Decide on one message. Then stay on it. The deviation can be a huge issue, especially when you are trying to sell something. So stay on the track. If you are selling peanuts, stay there. Ignore the gnawing urgency to add another line about how your cookies are also made up of the most delicious kind of chocolate. Keep the mail text centred at one point.
  • Maintain a humble tone. Polite words will get you a long way. So ensure a sweetened tone of conversation while writing an e-mail copy for marketing promotions. Try to use dignified words. Use a language that doesn't offend the target audience. Don't create a sense of chaos with your words. While the sense of a little urgency will work in your favour, even a slight hint of confusion or disorder can turn the tables.

And Of Course, Proofread Again, and Again

Because it is never enough. Punctuation, spellings, grammar and order: you need to make sure that everything makes sense. And you need to make sure that the sense is in accordance with what you want the mail to convey.

Keep these points in mind when you begin to write your copy for a marketing e-mail. With time, you will be able to make people click at each and every one of those little mail bombs created in your factory of creative insights.