Email marketing: What your emails must do… and how to avoid making prospects run away

Used correctly, an email can be a great way of targeting clients, promoting your business, and engaging with your customers.

Used incorrectly, it can be a great way of damaging your reputation, annoying potential and existing customers, and making you appear amateur and unprofessional.

What’s in it for me?

Let’s imagine we’re targeting someone at a party. They’re having fun, eating and drinking, talking to their friends.

We need to make a good first impression. We need to be polite and show interest in them, maybe offer to get them a drink or something to eat.

That’s the same mentality we need for creating a successful email marketing campaign.

We need to think about the people we’re sending the email to. We’re invading their space, so we need to put their feelings first, offer them some kind of benefit for spending time reading the email.

And always answer their question: “What’s in it for me?”

What a marketing email must do:

Follow a classic copywriting principle and offer at least one, preferably two, and ideally all three, of the below:

  1. benefit
  2. news
  3. curiosity

Without incorporating these elements, we won’t produce a successful email.

Are you sure you want an email marketing campaign?

Perhaps social media, SEO, or a prolonged bout of networking via LinkedIn to gain people’s trust before asking them to “opt in” to an email may be a better approach? It depends on your time, budget. Feel free to contact me to discuss.

Assuming you want to go ahead, let’s look at the structure of a sales email.

I follow David Frey’s 12-step sales letter template:

  1. Get attention
  2. Identify the problem
  3. Provide the solution
  4. Present your credentials
  5. Show the benefits
  6. Give social proof
  7. Make your offer
  8. Inject scarcity
  9. Give a guarantee
  10. Call to action
  11. Give a warning
  12. Close with a reminder

Now that’s a great formula, tried and tested, and is the approach I always take with my client’s sales letters. What I add, is my knowledge of online and email tactics:

Making sure your email newsletter is delivered

Spam filters operate in many ways. They look for “trigger” words and phrases in headlines, such as “buy today”, “limited offer” and “sale now on”.

They also check where the email is coming from, whether there are errors in the html, and whether it’s one of many that have been sent out.

So how can we minimise the risk of your email newsletter being rejected? There are a number of ways, including:

  • validating the html in your newsletter
  • setting up a sender policy framework (SPF)
  • limiting how many you send each hour

We need to consider the people who have the Autopreview window open in their email inbox. They’ll only see 25% of your newsletter so unless there’s something eye-catching in that 25%, they won’t open it.

And we need to be aware that most of images will be filtered out, which means we must make good use of text.