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How to dress (your emails) for success: get more opens, more read and more clicks

By Stuart McLaren on Mon 23 July 2012 in Email Marketing

Our top tips for email success...

The importance of the recipient experience

If you’re already using a form of email marketing I’m sure you know as well as we do how difficult building your emails can be.

When you create an email one of the hardest things to do is step back and think about what the recipient’s opinion of your brand will be. The experience your recipient has in the first 3 seconds of looking at your email is the difference between an open or a delete; or even worse a spam hit.

So, how do you ensure a positive recipient experience; capturing their attention, whilst maintaining your message, building trust and increasing your brand awareness?

Like I said, building your email is often the most difficult part, so we’ve created a checklist with the things your recipient notices in that vital 3 seconds…

The email checklist: What does your recipient notice?

  • No matter who you email is being sent to or what your email contains, there are some simple guidelines you can follow. They’re easy to implement and make a big difference to the success of your campaigns:
  • Your subject line is one of the first bits of detail that determines whether or not your email will be opened. Whilst it’s a small part of the email it’s important. Make it relevant and interesting to engage the recipient. For example try using your most interesting article title rather than a standard monthly newsletter as your subject line.
  • Just as important as your subject line is your sender alias. You can personalise your emails and who they are sent from (for example send your customers emails from their account manager) to build trust and recognition; keep your sender alias consistent especially when emailing prospective customers.
  • Images and banners are probably one of the least appealing things about an email you receive, until you downloaded it that is. The majority of email clients won’t download images automatically and instead leave an unattractive, usually disproportioned blank white box in their place. When you use images decide if your email still makes sense without them, if they are essential to your message, and if your recipient still knows what the email is about without them?
  • The preview pane will display the first 6 lines of your email (roughly), making this very valuable space. By the time your recipient has read those 6 lines they should know: who the company is, what the point of your email is and ideally have the option to find out more by clicking on a link. 80% of emails are only ever read in the preview pane, therefore encouraging the recipient to action something to move away from the email gives you a better chance of success.
  • Layout and content (more on this later) – keep it simple and clutter free. If your email looks messy people will loose their trust and get bored, and unfortunately people get bored quickly. Don’t make it difficult for your audience to find out who you are and what your message is. Keep your emails short, and if necessary why not link them to another page – this way your results will be more reliable and you keep the recipient interested.
  • Have multiple calls to action (links) but one destination and one purpose of the email. This forces the recipient to do what you want them to and improves the reliability of your results.Don’t forget to use these in your preview pane given the amount of emails that are only read and actioned here.
  • There’ll be more on this in our next article but I thought I should mention the legal bits. Make it easy for your recipients to unsubscribe, this will increase their trust and even if they do unsubscribe, making it easy will better their experience and won’t make your company look bad.

The difference your layout makes

So we already know your recipient will only spend 3 seconds looking at your email before deciding what action to take. This means by not paying attention to your layout, (especially the sender name, subject line and preview pane) can be a fatal error.

In fact if they don’t ignore your email straight away they are likely to do one of the following:

  1. Read the sender alias and delete due to a lack of trust.
  2. Read the sender alias and subject line but still delete due to a lack of interest.
  3. WORST CASE: read all of the above and report you as spam – more on this in our next article.

But, the good news is, spending a little bit of time on your layout and content will help you engage your recipient, improve their trust in your brand, improve your results and in turn increase your Return On Investment (ROI).