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6 Tips to Help Community Managers Write Effective Emails

Written by Nick Davis on February 16, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Tips for Writing Online Community Emails

I'm sure by now everyone is familiar with the Exact Target study that says about 91% of us check our email every day. It's this fact that makes your email list one of your most sacred marketing and online community management assets. However, many organizations struggle with getting their message across and end up annoying their community members, customers, and prospects to the point of being ignored.

Here are 6 areas that you can focus on to get the best results out of every email campaign that you send:

Area #1) Subject Line

The whole point of the subject line is to get your readers to open up your email. You may have the most compelling email ever written, but if it's hidden behind a subject line that's lacking, chances are it's not going to get opened.

The first key to a great subject line is to not give everything away up-front. You just want to pique the reader's interest and create some intrigue. The goal here isn't to convey the whole message, that's what the email is for. Change your mindset to use the subject line to get them to open your email.

Okay, so now what? Well, one of the best ways to write a compelling subject line is to put yourself in your recipient's shoes. What would pique your interest? What would make you want to open an email when you probably have another 100 waiting in your inbox competing for your time?

One of the best results I've found is to make your subject line relatable. Like a real human wrote it. Don't capitalize every letter or use big complicated words, just be conversational.

Quick tip: When it comes to writing an email subject line, don't just google the most opened email subject lines. These subject lines may have performed well at one point, but by the time you stumble upon them, chances are that they have been overused and will end up just looking like a spam or marketing email. To stay on top of the game you're going to have to constantly reinvent yourself.

Area #2) Calls to Action

What is the point of your email? Are you trying to get the recipient to register for an event, download an offer, or schedule an appointment with you? When sending an email it is critical that you know what it is you want the recipient to do after they read your email and you need to make that very clear.

Often times, one call to action just isn't enough. You'll need to provide multiple links to the same call to action in order to maximize your conversion rate. When planning your calls to action, make sure they are designed in a way that will capture the recipient's attention. For instance, hyperlinks don't always stand out, you might want to use a brightly colored button instead. On the other hand, you can also overdo your calls to action. There is no hard and fast rule, but don't let your calls to action take away from the readability of your email.

In addition to increasing your conversion rate, multiple calls to action have also proven to decrease the unsubscription rate. For instance, if you have one call to action and one unsubscribe link, then there is a 1:1 ration. However if you have 3 calls to action and 1 unsubscribe link, then you've shifted the odds to your favor with a 3:1 ratio.

Area #3) Email Length

The way we interact with the internet has changed drastically over the last few years. Today about 45% of email opens occur through a mobile device according to email marketing SaaS company, Adestra. This means that we have to tailor our emails to the medium on which they're being read.

Okay, so how does this change the way you write your emails? In short, they need to be shorter. When sending a mass email I would suggest that you first send a test email to yourself and open it on your smart phone. If it takes you more than two swipes to view the whole email, then you need to cut it down.

Think about when you're reading emails. Do you prefer the emails that ramble on and never get to the point, or the ones that are direct and get straight to the point? Again, when you're writing emails put yourself in your recipient's shoes and write an email that you would take action on.

Quick Tip: Send the email to your personal email account and read the subject line and email as if you were receiving this email. Getting in that mindset when crafting your marketing emails can help you catch big mistakes that you might not catch in the editing mode.

Area #4) Readability

What would you do if you opened up an email that was just one long paragraph? We're talking 7 or 8 sentences long. Would you take the time to read it? I wouldn't and I think most people probably feel the same.

When it comes to readability, white space is your friend. Keep your paragraphs short and sweet. Use bullets or numbered points. Again, about half of the people that read your emails will do so from their smart phones while they're on the go. Don't make reading your emails feel like a chore or a novel that they have to get through.

Another way to make your email easier to get through is to make it conversational. Again, don't just beat around the bush, but give your emails a personal touch. One trick I used to use was to throw in small typos or mistakes on purpose. Not giant gaffes, but just small mistakes like an extra space between words as evidence that the email was written by a fellow human.

Area #5) Personalization

Nowadays, many marketing automation platforms and email marketing tools comes with ways to personalize your emails from a list. This means that you can put in a personal data that will automatically pull everyone's first name and company and will include both in the email.

This can be a great way to demonstrate that you know who you're talking to and can help you start to build a relationship right off the bat by providing hyper-relevant messages. On the other hand, using too much personalization too soon can come off a bit creepy. For instance, I wouldn't include that “I saw you were on our website on Tuesday around 3:30pm MST and accessed our site from an IP address located in Utah. Yikes.

Another way to keep your emails personal is to segment your contact list. For example, you could sort your contact list out by recipients' job positions. This way you can send one message to the CFOs and another message to CMOs or CTOs. When you segment your contact list as I just described, you are able to send more relevant messages to the people who will care most about them.

Area #6) Frequency of Emails

Okay, so you've done it. You've just sent the perfect email. Now what? Do you follow it up? How long should you wait in between emails? Well, you don't want to spam your recipients, but you also want to make sure that the message you sent got through to them and that they understood the reason for that message.

As a general rule of thumb, the fewer emails that you send, the higher the open rate and click through rate you will get. So it can be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. In most cases, the more you email your recipients, the less they will open your emails, and so you will have to send more emails to get them to finally read your message.

Sometimes your emails will contain information that is time sensitive. For instance, if you're advertising an event that is taking place later in the week and you're trying to encourage people to register. In these cases, I would recommend double-sending these offers. That is, you can send one email on Monday for example, and then on Tuesday send a follow-up email to everyone who didn't open your email the day before. Again, this tactic is for special offer and shouldn't be overused.

BONUS: Send Plenty of Tests

I alluded to this earlier when I told you to test the email on your smart phone to check for length, but there are other reasons for sending test emails too. For instance, you can test for errors, typos and broken links.

Many email marketing and online community platforms allow you to send a test email as an actual person in your recipient list. I would also recommend that you test your email on your personal email, work email, desktop and mobile. If you can, I would also test opening your email using different email services (like outlook or gmail).

Community Management Takeaway

The best tip I've heard when it comes to writing emails is to always get in the mindset of your recipients. Most people don't particularly enjoy reading email, so make the experience as easy and painless as possible. Keep your message short and direct.

Today most people receive about 120 emails a day, according to radicati.com, so use your subject line to stand out from the crowd and once you've gotten them to open your email, don't waste their time. Deliver your message and then tell them what they should do next.

The most successful membership managers practice these 11 habits.

Topics: Member Engagement, Marketing Automation, Online Community

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