Build a Great Body (for Effective Email Marketing)

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 · 6 min read

That carefully crafted subject line you wrote last week is guaranteed to get someone to open your email, but now it’s up to the body of your newsletter to keep them from trashing it. How can you inspire your customers to take action after reading your e-newsletter? I thought you’d never ask.

body builderOffer strong content.

If you’ve planned ahead, you already know what’s going in your email, now you just need to type it up and lay it out. Can you guess what I’m going to say? That’s right. Keep your content short and sweet. In every A/B test I’ve ever done except one, the shorter email had a higher conversion rate. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 400-500 words. Of course, you could be the one exception to the rule, so it won’t hurt my feelings if you do your own A/B test to see if a longer or shorter email performs better for you. In fact, I encourage it. If you wrote your clever subject line before your content, don’t forget to include the highlights you promised.

Include a strong call to action.

Ah, the CTA. Your designers probably hate the ugly “Learn more” and “Buy now” you keep insisting on adding to all their landing pages and email designs, but that’s not a good enough reason to stop using them. No copywriter or editor wants to admit this, but the sad truth is, the people who are reading our carefully crafted email messages aren’t exactly hanging on our every word. The truth is they’re probably just skimming the content, looking for that one thing that initially caught their attention in your subject line. The call to action needs to be bold, clear, and preferably, above the fold. Don’t let your designers convince you to hide it within an image that may or may not load, or worse yet, skip it altogether. In this case, usability trumps aesthetics.

Use images wisely.

Gorgeous photography, engaging graphics, and a talented designer can be some of your strongest assets, but you still need to be conscientious about how you’re using images. Keep in mind that images take a long time to load, and they can be blocked by some email clients. Use compelling graphics and images; just don’t rely on them too heavily. Ideally, you don’t want your email to be one huge image. Include live text that will load even if you’re images don’t. Use alt text. You may also want to consider making a text only for mobile subscribers. No matter which version you send include a link to a web version of your email, and make sure the link is updated and working correctly before the email sends.

Create a sense of urgency.

Here’s where you have to walk the fine line between creating content that compels customers to take action NOW and sounding like a spammer. Being an email marketer is like being a tightrope walker. Catch phrases like “Last chance”, “One week only”, “while supplies last”, and “limited time offer”, are sure to perform well, until you over use them. They’re the big guns in the email marketing spaghetti Western. Save them for when you really need them.

Make it easy to unsubscribe.

I know, I know. I can’t fathom why your ungrateful customers would want to unsubscribe from your perfectly constructed e-newsletter either. Your subject line is witty, your content is compelling, and your graphics practically sparkle- what more do they want from you? Try not to take it personally; your emails just may not be their cup of tea. In that case, let them leave. Incorporate an unsubscribe link into your footer if your email service provider doesn’t automatically generate one. Most do. When it’s feasible, take your unsubscribers to a landing page where they can opt out and give them the option of signing up for fewer emails or segmented emails in addition to unsubscribing from all emails. Offer them a chance to explain why they are unsubscribing – you may learn something and improve your retention in the future.

Check your links.

Then double check them. Make sure your tracking codes are correct, and your landing pages are live. Avoid that sinking feeling that you get in your stomach when you realize there’s a problem with your links after you’ve already hit send.

Now check for typos.

Then check again. Recruit a fresh set of eyeballs to read the email slowly and carefully to make sure nothing is spelled incorrectly and that the text makes sense. It takes a village to create perfect marketing emails. Let’s say you’re the person who has been proofing and re-proofing an email to make sure all of the text, images, alt text links, fine print, and tracking codes are correct. AND you’re responsible for rechecking those marketing emails to make sure the right SKUs are highlighted, the prices are right, and everything is in stock. It is entirely possible that your eyes will glaze right over that teeny tiny typo. Believe me, your customers are going to notice it even if you didn’t, and nothing makes the email you’ve slaved over look more unprofessional than a glaring spelling error or grammatical mistake. Get a helper to mind your P’s and Q’s, dot your I’s and cross your T’s.

See how it looks on a smart phone.

If you’re reading the same marketing articles I’m reading, you already know that 70 million consumers check email on mobile devices in the United States. That is a lot of emails. Optimize for mobile.
Okay, we’ve crammed a lot of email marketing tips into this little blog series- we’ve covered content creation, subject lines, and guidelines for the body of your email blast.

Hopefully you feel prepared to go out and make your email marketing campaigns the best they can be in the New Year. If you want to study up before January 1st, download a copy of our email marketing guide, How To Get the Most Out of Your Email Marketing. Learn it, live it, love it, my friends. We’ll be back in 2013 with a helpful message on what not to do in your online email marketing.

Angela Modzelewski by Angela Modzelewski