This next post in our Email Marketing 101 series (Writing a Strong Subject Line, Best Times to Send, Email Service Providers) covers message content best practices. It is imperative to produce and send content that is valuable to your subscribers. Doing this creates value for your company, as well as helps to build your brand and create rapport.
To begin, you should have different subscriber lists and different content for current clients versus prospective clients. The following are some examples of valuable content to include in your messages:
- Link to recent blog posts
- Share photos from events
- Offer information about upcoming deadlines/dates
- Invite to seminars/webinars/events
It’s important to think outside the box! You want to create and send subscribers unique content that gives your company and its messages a competitive advantage. If you have a niche, you can and should be very targeted in the content that you communicate. For instance, let’s say you are a financial planner who targets pre-retirees who are typically W-2 wage earners. Your emails could include:
- Article on “When’s the best time to start taking social security”
- Interviews with local CPA/attorneys/estate planners
- Sharing a ‘what we’re reading’ list of articles
We’re going to break the rest of the post down to cover four key message content components: calls to action, value, influencers, and length.
Call to Action
A call to action is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response. It usually includes an imperative verb such as, “call now” or “find out more” to urge to reader to do something that immediately interacts with your brand further. It can be a text, a graphic or both that should be strategically placed to entice subscribers to take proactive step and engage with your business.
Calls to action should ideally be located at the top or bottom of your messages and should include explicit language. Examples are:
- Sign up now
- Book a free portfolio review
- Download your free report
These buttons should be bold, highlighted or colored text that draws the reader’s attention. DON’T include more than two calls to action in one message because subscribers won’t know where to click and will be more inclined to not click at all.
Value is created by addressing a need or solving a problem that your subscribers have. It is imperative that it’s both timely and relevant. For example, use content space to highlight your company’s are of expertise or to promote a service that you have. As long as you are sending this information to an audience that will find it relevant, this content demonstrates value to both the subscriber and your brand.
It is also important to show personality in your messaging. Include something personal to you or your company in your message content – people love reading personal information about others! Uniqueness also makes content valuable. Create content that users cannot find anywhere else or present it to them in a new way, and this creates incredible brand value for your company. Ask yourself, does the campaign:
- Provide enough value to keep subscribers interested?
- Show that you are giving valuable information, not just asking for something?
Influencers are leaders in an industry with opinions and experiences respected by others within that industry. If you’ve partnered with someone respected in your industry, if they’ve been quoted recommending one of your services, etc., include that in your message content, especially in the emails you send to prospective clients. Doing so shows your expertise and builds trust in your brand. It also provides references for the work that you do and usually makes new clients more inclined to feel comfortable in working with you.
The length of your content can make or break how subscribers receive your message. While there are no clear-cut guidelines because it varies depending on your audience, being concise is a universal best practice. Think about what you personally are most drawn to and would be most inclined to enjoy reading in an email – LESS IS MORE.
Best practice is to write your full article on your blog or website, and then provide a summary of the article or topic in your email. Clients that are interested in that topic can then click to “read more” if they are so inclined (this also allows you to track which content gets the most “clicks” in your emails – providing very valuable information on what your users are most interested in.
Page layout is also extremely important. Email message content needs to be easy to scan because if it overwhelms a reader, they are much more inclined to just delete the message, unsubscribe from your mailing list, and have a negative connotation with your brand in mind. Breaking your email design into two or three columns, just as it might look in the print media, can help make sure content is easy to scan.
Hopefully this post provides you with some additional insight into developing your message content. Be sure to check out our other posts in the Email Marketing 101 series: Writing a Strong Subject Line, Best Times to Send Campaigns, Email Service Providers, and Building and Segmenting Subscriber Lists!