When it comes to sending permission-based marketing messages, you can’t beat email. According to the 2012 Channel Preference Survey, 77 percent of customers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email.
In my last post, I talked about how to get people to open your message by optimizing your subject line. Here I’ll talk about best practices for writing your message copy.
The most important factor to keep in mind when writing email-message copy is that you have two to five seconds to capture someone’s interest once they open your email.
The following best practices will help you get the word out — fast.
- Have a clear, narrow purpose. With a two-to-five second deadline, you can’t sell your product or company. All you can do is sell your reader on taking a single step. In most cases, that step will be to click through to one offer — which you should carefully select based on where your reader is in the buying process. For example, an email designed to promote early stage, brand awareness might offer a thought-leadership or educational white paper or eBook. The email copy itself should simply describe how your reader will benefit from downloading the offer.
- Let your landing page and your offer do your heavy lifting. The sole purpose of your email should be to get someone to your offer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give people instructions or make your case. You just have to leave your heavy lifting to your landing page and the offer itself. Use your landing page to provide a more lengthy description of your offer as well as any technical aspects of fulfilling your offer. For example, the landing page is where you should ask people to register for your webinar or download a white paper offer. The offer itself will do the work of educating your reader or providing useful information designed to advance your customer through the buying cycle.
- Keep your body copy short. Your body copy should be no more than 200 words — although some studies have shown that copy half that long may be even better.
- Front load the email with the benefits of your offer and the call to action. An increasing number of subscribers will be reading your message on their mobile device. With the smaller screen size, you’ll want to make sure they see the good stuff. To that end, your headline should contain the unique selling point of your offer — whether that’s the key information they’ll learn by reading your white paper or an exclusive discount. You should also place a link to your call to action within the first paragraph. I work with one client that routinely includes both the headline and the call to action in the first line of their email.
- Use second person. People are accustomed to email as a very personal communication medium. Your tone should be that of a conversation that provides useful information. Don’t do a direct sales pitch.
- Load up on benefits. Mention one benefit for every feature or function of your offer that you mention.
- Break up your copy. To make your copy as easy to read as possible, use short paragraphs and bullet points to break up text. I typically use bullet points when describing the benefits of the offer. While this is important for emails of any type, it’s even more important when people read email on their mobile devices.
- Get consensus. Nothing is as credible as other customers. Where possible, put social proof in your email copy by getting a nice quote from a customer. If that quote includes quantitative results, even better.
- Use personalization. Use automated personalization to address the email to the particular reader.
In the third part of this series, I’ll give you tips for creating a compelling call to action.What are other ways you’ve improved your email copy?