One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is how to engage with email subscribers. With so many marketers competing for readers' attention, it may seem nearly impossible to have someone read an email from start to finish. But, like Bill Gates famously said in 1996, "content is king."
If an email contains compelling content throughout, it will drive subscribers to a higher level of engagement. Below are ways marketers can create and incorporate engaging content in an email campaign, from attention-grabbing subject lines to videos and interactive content.
Start with the subject line.
If a marketer wants to grab subscribers' attention amid a sea of other marketing emails, they need to craft a great subject line. The majority of people read emails on a mobile device, and most mobile phone displays truncate subject lines at roughly 35 characters, so the subject line must be brief. Avoid redundancy, for example, including "June Newsletter" in your headline is a wasted subject line.
A subscriber receiving the newsletter already knows that it's a newsletter, and that it arrived in June. The best approach is to use the subject line to highlight a few items from the newsletter and separate them with a vertical bar. For example, "2016 Email Marketing Tips | Social Media News." The character cutoff also means marketers must put the most important information first. So, instead of saying "Purchase our newest products 50% off," try "50% off our newest products."
Write content that gets noticed
The body of the email is just as important as the subject line, so be sure the content lives up to the hype of the subject line. In addition to abiding by the basic grammar rules, here are some tips for writing engaging content:
Don't forget details
Assuming most people skim emails, including relevant details in the opening sentence is key to keep subscribers reading.
Similar to the subject line, it's important to keep the body of the email concise. No one wants to spend a lot of time reading through an email.
Include a call-to-action
Informing readers about a new product or whitepaper is great, but telling them to purchase the product or to download the whitepaper is even better.
Keep it casual
A conversational tone is almost always the best choice for marketing emails. If you're not sure how to write in a conversational tone, the easiest way to get started is to read your writing aloud. If you sound like a robot or a college professor, the tone is too formal. The best way to achieve a conversational tone is to use contractions and write short sentences.
Get a second pair of eyes
Always ask someone else to read your work. Pick someone who can proof for grammatical errors and who's not afraid to say, "This is boring." Then use that feedback to write something better.
Mix it up
Adding a variety of content in emails enables marketers to connect with a broader audience. Here are some tips on how to best use different types of content:
How-to and tutorial videos are great ways to find a new audience, but there are many other ways marketers can use videos. Videos allow companies to humanize themselves and ultimately better connect with their audience. Videos showing employees engaging in some fun activity around the office or explaining their culture and corporate values are great examples.
Surveys are particularly useful in B2B marketing, especially if the majority of a company's subscribers operate within the same industry. For example, marketers could conduct a survey about challenges in the service industry and share the results with those who participated.
Infographics are perhaps the most versatile type of content, because the format works well in newsletters, on social media and on company websites. Infographics also allow marketers to present statistics and survey results in an appealing, concise manner.
Consumers are sometimes faced with an overwhelming number of product choices, and buying guides can help them compare and contrast products without conducting multiple Internet searches. Include a link in the email to a guide on your website, and this can help keep a potential customer on your website, rather than leaving to find better information.
Creating engaging content takes time. Successful email marketers not only listen to feedback from their peers, but also monitor how their subscribers respond to the content, and are willing to make changes accordingly.
Neil Berman is the founder and CEO of Delivra, an email marketing service provider and strategic consultancy. With nearly 20 years in the software industry, Berman continues to be driven by a passion to find innovative solutions that help clients win in their industries.