Email Structure & Content Best Practices

February 20, 2012 Chris Leonard

Audience Selection

  • Quality, not quantity of leads matter the most
  • Leverage your database – segment your existing database to target your audience

From Line

  • Use a real person’s name over company name for better open rates
  • Use a combination. First name, Last name, Company name

Headline: Solid value-based headline

  • Focus – Show what the visitor “gets” rather than what they “must do”
  • Inform – much like a newspaper headline, entice them to read more, tell them what is coming
  • Make it personal – “What’s in it for me?”
  • Value first – show value, then the benefit
  • Keep it concise – Shorter is better.  4-15 characters generated a 14.1% open rate, whereas those containing 51 or more characters had the least amount of opened emails (9.9%)*
  • TEST

Content: Make it relevant and add value

  • Show a pain point, then solve it
  • Explain benefits (not features)
  • Keep it brief – You have 4 seconds to get your reader to engage. Usually the first 2 sentences, but actually the first two words are the most important.
  • Bob Kemper, Director of Sciences, MECLABS, has analyzed hundreds of tests in the Marketing Experiments optimization labs, and from that he has discovered a few factors that help determine copy length effectiveness.
    • Short copy performs better when…According to Bob, short copy performs better when there is low perceived risk, low cost, and low commitment. Also, when the customer has an emotional, impulsive, and “want-oriented” motivation. In other words, if you’re looking to write high-impact copy for concert tickets, designer shoes, or mp3 players…keep it short.
    • Long copy performs better when…Bob states that long copy is the better performer when there is a rational, analytical, need-oriented motivation. Think consumer insurance products or many complex B2B offerings.
  • Personalize – Emails containing personalization in the actual message registered open rates of 12.6% on average, compared with those containing personalized subject lines only (4.1%).*
  • TEST

Design: Make it clean and consistent with your brand

  • Match your brand and your message
  • Too many graphics = overdone, confusing and not relevant if images are “turned off”
  • Too few graphics = boring and clinical
  • Make sure there is a balance between text and graphics
  • Keep fonts to less than three – preferably two and with web safe options (Verdana, Times, Arial)
  • Assume the reader is going to access email on handheld devices (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.)
  • Make sure the landing pages and emails match layout and brand for consistency
  • TEST

CAN-SPAM: Make sure you are compliant

  • Have an unsubscribe link on all emails
  • Include your physical address on all emails
  • Get permission – 28% of companies are still sending to unsolicited emails

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