There’s an art and a science to crafting that perfect email to reach out to potential customers, with advice out there ranging from how to write eye-catching subject lines and whether to include pictures to how best to close your message. Much of this accumulated wisdom is hugely valuable, but it can also be overwhelming.
So how do you know if you’ve checked over all the key elements to ensure your missive has the maximum impact? Vero, makers of email marketing software, think they can help. Having sifted through an avalanche of advice and best practices, their writer Jimmy Daly recently boiled it all down into a handy 9-item checklist you can work through before you hit send, a resource he’s happy to share with Inc.com readers.
"With great power - the privilege of inbox access - comes great responsibility - the requirement to respect recipients’ permission by keeping emails valuable, actionable and useful," he writes before running down the questions and offering a bevy of tools and examples you can use to ask to ensure you’re not abusing your customers’ trust.
Did I Write a Killer Subject Line?
"You need subject lines that increase value without implying cost. In other words, you need to let readers know that the content of your email is incredibly useful and won’t cost them a cent," writes Daly before offering great examples like 'Where to drink beer right now' and 'How I grew the KissMetrics Blog From 0 to 350,000 readers a month'. Who wouldn’t click on those? He also weighs in on the research regarding the perfect subject line length.
Who Is This Email Really From?
This one includes not only checking who the recipient will see as the sender, but also double checking everything that will be visible to the reader before they open the email. "This includes the 'from' address and subject line, but it can also include the first text in the email, or even image alt text. If it could possibly show up in a user’s inbox, it needs to be optimized," insists Daly.
Who Is This Email Really to?
If you’re sending the same exact email to everyone on your list, you’re probably not getting as much out of your efforts as you probably could. "Because it’s easy to collect lots of data about folks on our email lists, there is no excuse not to segment based on a number of demographics," notes Daly, before offering tools to do this and effective ways to segment.
Is This Email Personal Enough?
You want the email to be relevant but not creepy. "Data is a double-edged sword. There is a fine line between using personalization to get an email read and making people feel uncomfortable," Daly writes. "A good personalization rule of thumb is to only use data that you would also use in person."
Is the Copy Perfect?
OK, you’re not Shakespeare (or even Seth Godin) but you should still aim to make your email copy as compelling as possible. That means the email is as short as it can be, in your own voice and evokes emotion and stories above and beyond simple facts.
Does This Email Go Beyond the Written Word?
"Buffer found that tweets with images increased clicks by 18 percent and retweets by 150 percent," reports Daly. Pictures are just as powerful when it comes to marketing emails and embedded videos and GIFs are similarly valuable. Are you missing out by not including these elements?
Does This Email Include a Call to Action?
Every email should ask recipients to take one and only one action. That could be something very big or very small depending on the circumstances. What's your CTO?
Is this email responsive?
"Responsive emails ensure that your message can easily be read on both a four-inch smartphone and a 27-inch desktop computer. Luckily, responsive HTML templates solve this problem - meaning you don’t need to know a lick of code to create beautiful emails," explains Daly, who offers a massive list of email marketing resources that includes plenty of templates.
Am I Growth Hacking?
"Small changes can have a massive impact on traffic, social sharing and conversion," Daly reminds email marketers, so ask yourself if you’ve done everything you can to maximize the impact of your message, such as linking to your social media accounts, offering referrals in exchange for a discount, and stripping inactive users from your email lists to keep your spam scores low.
Are you taking your responsibility not to pollute yoru customers' inboxes seriously enough?