Monday 28 October 2013

Write Effective Emails that Engage Readers

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16 Tips For Writing Better Emails 

Written by Robyn T. Braley

Writing an enews that engages readers requires thought and discipline. Rants, poor grammar, harsh language, one-word subject lines, and sketchy formatting will reduce the reader's absorption into the important information you are trying to communicate. 

I know, I know. You hate going through a deluge of emails that land in your inbox every morning. You claim you never look at many before hitting delete. That is the downside of an enews. 

However, when you think about it, I'll bet there are some you check more than you realize, especially from companies you know.  

An eNews program offers a channel for establishing relationships, building trust, and opening a dialogue that may lead to new business.

·       Keep in contact with existing customers
·       Remind former clients you are still in business
·       Inform prospects of the benefits you offer
·       Develop relationships with suppliers, employees and your network
·       Build your brand through engaging the reader

Most eNews are a hybrid of inbound and outbound marketing tactics. Recipients can interact immediately with your brand making eNews the most used form of social media for business. 

However, they are often overlooked by social marketers. In fact, for this blog post, I had to ask our UniMark Creative designer to create an icon to accompany the piece because I couldn’t find an acceptable one online.

eNewsletters allow senders to be very specific in identifying target markets. Lists can be segmented and messages personalized and shaped for specific groups. The lead text can be easily modified for each group after the body is carefully crafted.  

Content Value
Relevant content that provides value for the recipients is key. Whether there are how-to-tips, useful background information, a new sales opportunity, interesting news, or a reminder that not taking action may bring negative consequences, valuable content will motivate recipients to open future emails.  

The message must be carefully crafted. Short is always good, but not at the expense of meaning. It is never a bad thing to have a third party read and double proof it for grammar or spelling. Dynamic photos that help tell your story immediately attract attention.  

Including links to value-added sources increases the engagement level of the reader. There should always be links to your own website along with valid reasons for the reader to go there. If you write a blog, like this one, post information that expands on subjects brought up in the eNews.

Leveraging someone else's content through linking to an online article in a newspaper or leadership, sales or trade magazine adds value by establishing you as an expert.

Linking to your social media sites like YouTube, Vimeo or Flickr to view photos or videos of a recently completed project is valid news. A relevant photo and brief description of how you solved a common problem increase the time readers spend with your brand.

Management Systems
Distribution systems like Outlook or Excel work for lists of a few hundred. Email services like MailChimp, Constant Contact, SendBlaster, ReachMail are best for many thousands. Buying your own software program is also an option.  

I recommend using a mail management system because they eliminate formatting headaches, automatically size photos, and provide a template. All you have to do is fill in the blanks.

They also provide valuable marketing feedback like click-through information and unsubscribe functions. Distribution can also be automated for specific times of designated days.   

Having a branded design is obviously best. But, if that is not an option, 100s of free templates are available online. The management services offer them as part of their programs. There are spaces for photos, videos, and colourful graphics.

But even a text-only eNews is better than no eNews at all. In fact, depending on your brand message, simpler, and more personal may be best. Building relationships is what it is all about.  

What's the Problem
Don't be that small business owner who resists publisin eNewsletters believing they will annoy customers and become lost in the hundreds of emails that clutter their mailboxes. There is a simple solution. If recipients are annoyed, they can unsubscribe.

Quick Tips
1.     Concise subject line, must grab attention, sender identity, 1-2    word topic description 
2.     First sentence - engage the reader
3.     Each line must be short, ideally 5-6 words
4.     Relevant content – value, benefits, take aways 
5.     Positive, engaging tone – friendly does it
6.     Never use all caps – ever. That is the equivalent of shouting
7.     Simple, declarative sentences, third or fourth grade reading level
8.     One subject per paragraph, 3-4 sentences max
9.     Paragraph headline, different color, bold
10. Bullets or numbers break up key information
11. Links to relevant content; websites, online articles, blogs
12. Include calls to action
13. Include an unsubscribe option or message
14. Check grammar and spelling
15. Link social media icons to your sites
16. Us an electronic signature with logo and contact info

Robyn T. Braley is a writer, speaker and music composer. He is the President of UniMark Creative which focuses on website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. Contact him at or

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