On a daily basis, we interact with about 11 brands through multiple emails. How do your get your email noticed?

- Stats

Email has become an easy and convenient means of communications. As ease and convenience increase, so does your inbox gets crowded with (often times poorly drafted) emails. How do you make sure your email gets noticed, and the desired action(s) taken? Below I discuss how it is very important to start with a strategy.

1. Start with a Strategy

What story do I tell?

Throughout history humans have engaged other humans through storytelling, whether it be oral transmission, books, or through multimedia. If you're trying to engage an audience in electronic music you're probably not going to tell them a story about the benefits of workout? Once we have figured out our story, then we turn our attention on how to present it. The screenshots below from an email from David Suzuki Foundation illustrate the importance to capture the imagination of your audience through short storytelling.

Notice how the email starts with a story, "Did you know that Canada has the world's largest Greenbelt?" Now David Suzuki Foundation is an environmental organization, so their story telling is about species conservation, sustainability, and toxicity, among other topics. But for you, what is going to be your story and style?

David Suzuki greenbelt

Who is my target audience?

Understanding your target audience is very important, parameters such as socioeconomic and psychometric analysis helps us guide our strategy in a very specific direction.

What is the Call to Action?

I can't emphasize enough on having a clear call to action. Having a clear call to action based on your objectives is very crucial in achieving desired end result(s), whether it be getting brand exposure, or selling products online. I will illustrate the email from David Suzuki Foundation again.

David Suzuki call to action

The Foundation's primary objective is for you to take action, i.e., submitting your comments to the Ontario government before May 28, 2015. Placing the call to action strategically (in the form of a clickable button), makes it easier for conversion. People are taken to a website where you can read about the issue, and then if convinced you sign the form.

What value do I add?

The question you've to ask before working on your strategy is "what value do I add with my emails?" If you're not adding value, you're most probably adding to the digital noise.

To illustrate this let's take the example of Death to Stock Photography emails. As the name suggests, designers are usually upset with the quality of stock photography for projects, and a bunch of them actually decided to give away authentic, good quality photos, delivered to your inbox every month.

Justin death to stock photos

The catch is if you like their free monthly assortment of photos, you might like their premium collection (see screenshot below).

Death to Stock conversion

Death to Stock is definitely adding value here to their target audience (designers) by emailing them once a month a link to download good quality, authentic photos for design projects.

2. Emailing Schedule

Following a schedule to email your audience is a very important practice, it prepares you for content for the future, and gives your audience an idea of the frequency of your emails. I suggest you working the schedule on something simple as a spreadsheet.

3. Other Important Considerations

Email Marketing Software

I suggest using an email marketing software. For small business owners good news is some email marketing software offer free service for some, e.g. if you have less than 1000 subscribers it is free to use their service. I personally prefer to use Mailchimp because its easy to use, designer friendly, and measurable. Some of our clients in the non-profit and advocacy sectors use NationBuilder.

Subject line

Do not forget the subject line. Chose a subject line that fits as to show up on the email client/browser. A subject line properly chosen can invite your audience to read the actual email. Let's discuss the example of subject lines by David Suzuki Foundation and Death to Stock Photography.

In your inbox, the information about sender (David Suzuki Foundation and Death to Stock Photo), the subject ("Got two minutes to protect the Greenbelt?" and "Justin's Lake Adventures - Monthly Photo Pack #13") and a bit of preview from the email shows. This is enough information to get you interested in clicking on, or not. Hence pay very careful attention to these elements. Test your email (see below) to make sure these elements are up to standard.

Truncate Text

How many times have I seen marketers and business owners have the main text body so long it looks like an epic novel? Several times! I suggest you to consider avoiding this practice. Your audience has limited time and attention span. Try to capture their imagination in the first sentence, the rest of the story you can truncate, and link it to your website or blog for further reading.

Screenshot of an email by one of our clients. Observe how the text is truncated and hyperlinked to their website for further reading?

Read More link from San Francisco Zen Center email takes us to SFZC website, where people can read more about the program, and if interested register.

Use a Designer

How many times have I seen business owners do their own design and it turns out to be really bad? Several times! I suggest you to consider avoiding this practice. Hire a good designer. If you can't afford a good designer, try seeking their help to design you the email templates. Email marketing softwares such as Mailchimp make it easy for you to customize the templates (not design it though). But the template design is still very important to give it a consistent look of the brand.

Embed Media

If you have a powerful piece of multimedia e.g., videos, photos, embed it. Most email marketing software allows you to embed media. If you can't embed video, take a screenshot of the video, and hyperlink it, instead of just hyperlinking text.

Test the Email Before Sending

Test your email for look, content, and all other elements. It is very important that the audience gets interested when the email shows up in your inbox, so they click on. Most email marketing software allows you to send yourself a test email to view how it would look when sent. This lets you troubleshoot, and edit contents to adjust look and feel.


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