6 tips for creating more effective emails

Don’t assail inboxes with salesy, generic fluff. Make your content useful, personal, emotional and honest.


Email marketing content is all about engagement.

Your content must instantly connect with audiences, sustain that connection, and leave readers wanting to hear more from you. Following the six guidelines below will help you craft content that does the trick:

1. Make it useful.

The most important way to ensure your success is to create content with your audience’s needs in mind. It’s not about you, your product or service.

Your ultimate goal is to compel some sort of action, but your immediate objective is to engage audiences with what you create. To do that, your content must be useful—for them, not you.

“The best way to create helpful content is to take what you know about your specific audience and brainstorm topics that addresses their needs and goals,” writes Monica Montesa at the AWeber blog. “Using your subscriber/customer personas, you can identify ways to provide solutions to specific problems, help them achieve their goals, keep them up to date on industry news and so on—just be sure the education you provide ties back to your business.”

2. Make it personal.

“Research has shown that people not only have a strong desire for control but also a distaste for information overload (particularly if it is irrelevant). Personalization offers a way to address both issues,” writes Michelle Manafy at Inc.

Personalization will improve your metrics and help you deliver useful information.

Kim Courvoisier reported at Campaign Monitor: “Ninety-four percent of customer insights and marketing professionals across multiple industries said personalization is ‘important,’ ‘very important,’ or ‘extremely important’ for meeting their current email marketing objectives.”

As Manafy writes: “Personalization is more than a means to improve open rates and click-throughs. It makes your marketing useful. And useful content creates meaningful connections that will yield long-term success.”

3. Make it emotional.

“People are emotional creatures,” writes John Rugh at Relevance. “We decide and take action (including buying decisions) based largely on emotions. So, if your marketing content tries to reach your audience only through a rational approach, there’s a good chance it will fall flat.”

“Crafting emotional content begins with understanding your audience’s feelings,” Carla Johnson suggests at the Content Marketing Institute. “Are they scared? Frustrated? Skeptical? Now ask what’s the opposite of that emotion? Poke at your audience’s emotions to motivate them to take action, whether that action is to look for more content from you, pick up the phone and call, or talk to someone face to face.”

4. Make it honest.

“Reputation is an important thing for any business or industry,” writes Peter Roesler at Inc. “This is extra true for email marketing. When consumers open their inbox, they are more likely to open a message from a company or brand they trust.”

Honesty helps build a great reputation and drive engagement.

Lautel Okhio at Pardot writes:

Honesty is valuable. Use it to tell your story, and to demonstrate your core values to your recipients. By being straightforward with what you have to offer and what you want from them in return, you’re positioning your brand as trustworthy, and building a positive association around who you are and what you do.

5. Make it a story.

“Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways you can engage your audience,” writes Ana Darstaru at Squirlly. “You probably tell stories every day to your friends, family and your colleagues. So why not use this technique to be closer to your audience?”

That doesn’t mean you become a fiction writer.

“Storytelling is not inventing a story,” advises i-SCOOP. “In fact, the very reason why your business exists, why you have developed products and services, and why you do what you do is filled with stories. You want to fulfill needs, respond to questions, engage on an emotional level, connect, find your voice and listen to voices in the intersection of brand and audience.”

6. Make it visual.

As Movable Ink wrote:

That old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words? It’s 100 percent true when it comes to marketing. Blog posts with images see sky-high engagement—up to 650 percent higher than those without. Visual content gets shared three times more than non-visual content across social channels.

Still not convinced? Hubspot reported that simply including the word “video” in a subject line boosts open rates by 19 percent and clickthrough rates by 65 percent.

The challenge for email marketers is not about deciding whether to use visuals—it’s about which type to use. If marketing is an arms race (and it is), visuals are the most potent weapon at your disposal.

A version of this post first appeared on the Movable Ink blog.

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