How many emails do you have in your inbox right now? If you’re embarrassed to answer, you’re not alone. We know how many emails the average person receives every day. As marketers, we must think twice about how we’re crafting our emails to make sure they don’t get lost in the black hole of our readers’ inboxes. Here are five tips to make sure your emails are as effective as possible
1. Craft an Open-Worthy Subject Line
Subject lines are tricky. You have one sentence to catch people’s attention and convince them to open your email. Your subject line must be interesting and relevant. Consider your audience: what are they interested in? What’s going to capture their attention?
Avoid subject lines that are pure “clickbait.” We’ve all been duped by emails or articles with subject lines like, “She Opened Her Car and Couldn’t Believe What Happened Next” or, “This Destination is Majorly Trending Right Now” only to be met with someone trying to sell us life insurance. The average human reads so many headlines every day that they’ve become experts at sniffing out a scam. People crave genuine, relevant content. Leave the clickbait subject lines at the door.
Another thing to keep in mind is not giving too much away. Your readers need a reason to click. Take the above subject line, “This Destination is Majorly Trending Right Now.” You’d probably open it, right? What if it read, “Bali is Majorly Trending Right Now.” Unless you’re particularly interested in Bali, you’re not going to click, because the subject line gives you the answer, rather than making you ask the question, “Where is this trending destination?”
If your email is going to a partner’s list and you’re not sure about a subject line, ask the partner company to write it for you. Chances are they know their audience best and have done plenty of testing on how to get the maximum open and click through rates. At National Park Trips, we write all the subject lines on our client emails to maximize their open rates.
2. Incorporate Beautiful Images
It’s cliché but true: a picture’s worth a thousand words. When readers open your email, the first thing their eyes should be drawn towards is a beautiful photo. This is the second moment you have to either hook someone into reading more or to lose them. Your photo should be high quality, it should be relevant, but it should also be beautiful and inspiring. Readers love gorgeous landscapes, but they also love photos in which they can imagine themselves in a place. Rather than photos that feature laughing and smiling faces, look for photos of someone enjoying a view, a bustling street or bare toes in the water: these are photos that show a person but with enough anonymity that a reader can imagine that the person is them.
Avoid photos with words across the top. People are bombarded by ads in every aspect of their lives. What they crave is seeing a genuine photo. Leave the text for print or banner ads and instead allow your beautiful image to grab a reader’s attention.
Don’t have high quality photos? There’s no shame in using stock images. Just make sure that the images are available for commercial use and check to see if you need to give credit to the photographer.
3. Be a Tease
You’ve gotten someone to open your email, you’ve convinced them to keep reading with a beautiful photo. Now it’s time to accomplish your real goal.
Having a goal in mind when writing an email is important. Are you trying to drive clicks to your website? Increase bookings? Convert readers into signing up to receive your travel guide?
The copy, or writing, in your email needs to balance your goal with creating value for your readers. Give too much information in your copy and there will be no reason to click through to your website to learn more. Give too little information, or sound too marketing or sales-y and readers will feel tricked into opening the email in the first place.
Write compelling and interesting copy, but make sure you do so in a way that piques the readers’ interest enough that they’ll want to take an action off your email. Especially when your email is going to be sent to a partner’s list, it’s important to convince readers to click through to your website instead of just reading your email and moving on in their inbox.
4. Talk to Emma and Derrick
Whenever you’re writing for potential visitors, it’s important to keep in mind that you are writing for real people. Create visitor personas to turn your audience into people whose interests you know so that when you sit down at your keyboard, you’ll know you’re going in the right direction.
Your destination may be known for its gold-medal waters, but if your audience has no interest in fishing, it doesn’t matter how compelling your content is. You’re not going to get much traffic on an email focused on angling.
Write with your visitor personas in mind. What would Emma and Derrick, a millennial couple, be interested in hearing about? Feature the most Instagrammable spots in the area, share a live music calendar or write a piece featuring farm-to-table restaurant owners.
If you’re writing an email that will be going out to a partner’s list, there’s no need to go in blind. Ask your partner company about their audience demographics and create a visitor persona for their list. This is your chance to market to a completely different audience, so don’t be afraid to write about things you might not normally market to your list.
Take our National Park Trips audience, for example. Over 70% of the people on National Park Trips’ email list are 45 and older. Over 50% have a household income of $80,000 or more. 74% are college educated and our top audiences live in California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois and New York. And, most of all, each person on our list loves national parks. These stats might look very similar or very different than your email list. When you’re crafting an eblast for our audience, create a visitor persona based on who will be receiving your marketing and write to them.
Over 70% of the people on National Park Trips’ email list are 45 and older. Over 50% have a household income of $80,000 or more. 74% are college educated and our top audiences live in California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois and New York.
5. Include a Call to Action
Every effective email needs a goal, and every goal needs a strong call to action: linked text that convinces a reader to take a specific action. Links can be subtly dispersed throughout the copy if it helps strengthen your content, but your main call to actions should include both a text link in your first paragraph and a link at the end of your email (most often a button.)
For instance, if you mention a trail in your copy, link to a page on your website with a full trail description. Always ask yourself if a link in the body will contribute to, or deter from your goal. If your goal is to get people to sign up for your travel guide, you don’t want them to click off your email to a trail description, get lost reading up on trails and never return to finish your email. If your goal is website traffic, the link to the trail would support that.
Your call to action text link in the first paragraph encourages clicks even if the reader doesn't make it down to the bottom of your email. The call to action at the end of your email needs to communicate the next step for the reader. Both CTAs should support your goal. Instead of, “if you’re interested in trails in the area, you may find our travel guide useful,” use forceful and compelling language such as, “download our travel guide now to see all the best trails.” Use time sensitive language like, “now” and “today” to increase clicks. Create a sense of urgency by mentioning that rooms are selling out quickly, or spring is just around the corner.
Most email providers give you the ability to create a call-to-action button. Use a bright color that fits with your brand and give a firm and short command such as, “Download Now,” “Plan Your Trip Today,” or “Learn More.”
Always, always double check your links on your test email. There’s nothing worse than a perfectly executed email that doesn’t achieve its goal because the link was wrong or broken.
Ready to craft an email? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn how to send a sponsored email to our 136,000+ person email list.
(Did you see what we did there?)