A staple in any customer retention program is the ability to write emails that strengthen relationships, get responses, and persuade action. With an overflow of emails hitting inboxes daily, it’s important to develop an approach that not only gets notice, but also is effective at getting results. Make no mistake; email marketing is not an easy feat. It can be made simpler, however, by breaking it down into core tasks, and understanding the job each task plays in the overall campaign.
The first thing you have to do in building an effective email follow-up program is to determine the desired outcome of each email. An effective email can’t be developed if one doesn’t know what they want to achieve from it. Depending on the desired outcome, the response could be any number of things. Overall, every email should have three primary roles.
1. Build relationships. All email programs should build a stronger relationship with customers, and seek to enhance the brand.
2. Get responses. For example, respond to surveys, questions, feedback, etc.
3. Persuade action. An example is clicking a link in the email.
These items are primary roles each email should strive to achieve, but within that there are also three primary actions that need to be met before the roles can have a chance at success. These actions can be dubbed the “3 G’s” (we’re not talking mobile networks here). It is important to note that the “3 G’s” must be performed in the order listed below, and emails should be written to accomplish this.
1. Get interest
2. Get opened
3. Get the action: response, click, etc.
In other words, the job of an email is to first get the attention of the recipient, second to persuade them to open the email, and then finally get them to act upon something in the email by clicking a link. Why a specific order? It goes without saying that an email won’t get opened if it doesn’t first get the receiver’s attention, and it won’t get the click from the inside offer if it doesn’t get opened first. With that in mind, it’s time to maximize the opportunity to achieve each of the three actions (interest, open, action). To do this, it needs to be understood that there are four major email components which all good marketers take advantage of.
4 components harnessed in effective emails
1. From line
2. Subject line
3. Email content (body)
4. Call to action
The from line
To be most effective, the ‘from’ line should be the name of the business or website. Why? It is the business or website that they are transacting with, and using it in the “from” line will help trigger brand awareness, which will answer at least one major question they will ask when they receive the email: ”who sent me this email?” The answer to that question, combined with the subject line, easily tells them what the offer is and who it is from. They need to know this so trust is built, and any hesitation to open the email based on security is removed from the equation.
Ok, let’s imagine we have now accomplished the first two objectives: gaining interest and getting the email opened. What next? Now we need to make sure at least two basic things are present to get the next action, i.e. the ‘click’.
The subject line
To achieve the first two actions (interest, open) one must develop an effective subject line. Make it short, sweet, and intriguing. Let’s take, for example, a store that is running a limited time fall promotion:
A good subject line might be: Get 50% Off. 5 Days Only. Details Inside …
A less powerful subject line might be: Fall Into Savings for a Limited Time!
The first subject line clearly states the offer and then ends with a subtle call to action (details inside), followed by an ellipsis (or hellip). Ellipses are used in on-screen menus to convey that there is more to come. When crafted correctly, a good subject line will gain interest and have the receiver wanting more.
The email body content, which includes text and images, needs to reinforce the offer stated in the subject line, and provide details about it. Keep it simple, state the benefits to the customer, stick to the facts, and provide a call to action, or two. Remember, people are overwhelmed by emails and they aren’t going to spend a ton of time reading, so get to the point and make it compelling. Give them a reason to take action, and then most importantly, ask for the action. It does no good to develop a super email, get it opened, and forget to provide the reader with ways to perform the final action.
Call to action
Calls to action ask the reader to do something. They are things like “Shop Now!”, “Learn More”, “Click for Details”, “Go Shopping”, “Add to Cart”, etc.
The call to action should also reflect what the intention is, and what they will gain by clicking it. A “Start Shopping” call to action clearly indicates that by clicking the link, the user may begin shopping the offer at the desired website. If the desired outcome is to get them to complete a survey, then a “Complete the Survey” call to action is best. Don’t assume they will do it just because the offer is presented to them. Ask them to do it.
It should be understood now that all good emails have three primary roles, three primary actions, and four major components that are used to support the desired results. Following this guide, and remembering that all emails must “get interest”, “get opened”, and “get clicked” (in that order), will shore up any email marketing campaign and produce results that work toward the company’s objectives.