Building email relationships is similar to building relationships in general. You want to avoid doing things that annoy your target audience, confuse it, or cause it to distrust you. (Tricking your audience is high on the “causing distrust” list.)
Kaitlin Westbrook (@kaitwarren) has written a great article about five things not to do—based on a fun, perky little video featuring Elizabeth Duffy, professional services team lead at Emma.
Leave bait-and-switch behind
Let’s say your subject line mentions that you’re going to ask an important question, but there’s no question in the body of the email. This is bait-and-switch exemplified. If your readers click and see no question, they will distrust you and may be unlikely to open any more of your communications. Go for a “realistic hook,” instead. See my posts on better subject lines and preheader text.
Say goodbye to batch-and-blast missives
If you send out an email that’s relevant to only part of your list to the entire list, you risk being perceived as irrelevant. Ms. Duffy’s example is sending a message with the subject line “It’s sweater weather” to Florida residents. The whole effect is “one size fits none.” Instead, segment your message for location. Segmented, targeted emails make sense, and they generate more revenue than traditional blasts.
Ditch CTA choices
That is, offer your readers a single, clear-cut choice. If you offer two choices, they will be confused about which one you want them to make. Too much choice can be paralyzing, as your readers consider which one is the most desirable. Kind of like the lady or the tiger, though on a lower level. As with segmented emails, limiting choice to one option generates more revenue.
Avoid friction words
Along with limiting choice, you will want to make your CTA really appealing. Many of us have been brought up on commands, which are supposed to be desirable, because they’re so, well, commanding. But being ordered to do something can create an undesirable sense of friction. Ms. Westbrook says, “It’s better to make the CTA an opportunity, not a command—and make converting sound beneficial.” So soften things up a bit. Instead of “buy now,” for example, you might want to say something like, “See what awaits you.”
Go for buttons, not links
Busy people—and aren’t we all? —scan emails, and you should make it super-obvious what they need to do. Buttons are a boon. Ms. Westbrook notes that click-through rates increase by 28% with buttons rather than hyperlinks. I think they have the same irresistible quality as that little “Drink me” sign in Alice in Wonderland.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: we all complain about email, but we couldn’t do business or conduct our personal lives without it. So it’s incumbent on us all to make our electronic communications as pleasant, pointed, and concise as possible.
alexmillos — 123rf.com