Given the amount of communication platforms that are available these days, how much time are you devoting to putting together your email content? Do you have a habit of simply copying some direct mail text and whacking the whole thing out the door?
If you’re not taking the time to consider the message as well as the medium, your emails may not be conveying the messages you think they are. Here are some basic rules you can follow to ensure that your email message gets across to your supporters each and every time.
Write your subject line first
Your subject line is one of the primary triggers to get your email opened. Ensure you write it first, and take some time to consider it accordingly. What is likely to make your supporters open your email? Will asking a question help? If your subject line doesn’t help get your email opened, no one will see the body text that you have spent so much time writing!
Also keep your subject line to under 50 characters in length to ensure it’s easily read in all email clients.
Consider your images
Don’t create your email as one big image. Many email clients do not display images by default, which means that, until your supporters enable these, your email will display nothing.
Please also consider the following points:
- Ensure that any images you do choose to use are related to the content of your email
- Ensure that your banner images are smaller than 400 pixels in width to ensure that more than just your banner image displays in preview panes
- All images have alt tags set up behind them
- Images can be a great way to avoid creating walls of text in your email, so don’t be afraid to use them this way
Chunk out your text
Emails are not letters, and shouldn’t read in the same way. Emails should be short, sharp and easy to skim, to cater for the attention span of supporters who are likely multi-tasking and who may not read the whole body of text. Consider how you read your emails when they come flying into your inbox. Do you give each message equal attention and read from top to bottom without distractions?
Headings, sub-headings and bullet points are a great way to break up your text and to present it to your supporters in managable chunks.
Keep it below 350 words
Aim to keep the body of your email below 350 words, to avoid supporters having to scroll a long way, and to ensure that you stay on message and deliver it in a punchy way. Brochures, direct mail pieces and other collateral should not simply be copied and sent out in an email. You need to optimise your text for online readers, who have limited time, multiple distractions and a limited attention span.
Consider your tone
Generally speaking, email is an informal communications tool. Don’t be afriad to have fun and to experiment with your tone to see what best engages your supporters.
Watch the page fold
If your supporters are distracted or in a hurry when noticing your email, it’s highly likely that they won’t bother to scroll past the page fold of your email. Ensure that all of the critical information that you wish to convey sits above this, so that your supporters can get your message as soon as they open your message without having to scroll.
In particular, ensure that at least one call to action sits above the page fold, so that your supporters can act immediately if they desire.
Use multiple calls to action
Ensure that your calls to action are easy for your supporters to complete. Try to keep your asks, such as donations/event registrations/sales/requests for information online, and pointing back to your website. The easier your calls to action are to follow, the more likely your supporters are to be able to complete these.
Also ensure that you have multiple calls to action throughout your email. Don’t just stop at one. Keep encouraging your supporters (nicely!) to undertake the action you’re asking them to. Sometimes it can take 2 or 3 iterations to convince a supporter to act immediately.
Personalisation requires more than just using a ‘dear first name’ field in your emails. Segment your emails well and ensure that your message is focused on the segment of supporters you are currently talking to. Avoid a one size fits all approach.