Email can be a great way to broadcast your message to your readers or a fast track to watching your subscribers dwindle to nothing. Each group of readers is different, so you’ll need to tailor these tips for your audience. 

  1. Purpose. The most important step is to determine if an email message is truly needed. Are you providing your readers with information they care about? Is there some sort of action you want them to take? Is there another platform that is better served than email for your message? The last thing you want is for your reader to open the message and say, “so what?”
  2. From name and email address. For general marketing messages, don’t use an unmonitored box such as noreply@yourdomain. It’s natural for readers to hit reply when they want to learn more or need assistance. Use a real email box and regularly monitor responses. For executive communications or messages from a particular person, consider sending from their email address or a vanity mail account such as president@yourdomain. Readers are more willing to read a message from a person than from an organization. They’ll feel like they are receiving something special and will pay more attention to the content.
  3. Subject line. Use a subject line that grabs your readers’ attention. Try testing different subject lines to find what resonates with your audience. Imagine you’re a university marketer and your job is to invite parents and students to the annual graduation ceremony. Here are examples for a commencement invite. Which subject line is more compelling?
    • Cheer on new grads at Commencement 
    • Celebrate with friends and family at Commencement
    • Invite: University Commencement on May 18
    • Are you ready for the May 18th University Commencement?
  4. Body of the message. A picture is worth a thousand words. Select a choice graphic that draws readers in and add copy below or next to the image to share the details. Make use of hyperlinks to locations, bios of speakers and more information. Make sure to have your customer service or reception proofread the message. They’ll know what customers want to know. Keep your email brief.If they need more information, hyperlink to a webpage. Do not send an image only message. Some email programs block images by default. If your reader is on a mobile device, a weak signal could cause irritation as they wait for the image to download. Your reader may hit the delete key and move on. 
  5. Webpage. Most messages will have a webpage for the full details. Make sure the information on the website matches what’s in your email. Be sure to proofread the webpage carefully. 
  6. Email lists. Acquiring email subscribers is tough: keeping them is even tougher. No one wants to be a spammer but if you send messages that are irrelevant to your audience, that’s how they’ll see you. If you’re sending an invite for an event in your local area, do not send the message to your entire database. Instead, target those readers living in your area and include the event in a monthly digest or market through social media. Maintain different options for email subscriptions such as events, offers, programs, or all communications. Honor the wishes of those who unsubscribe and remove them from your lists. Once a quarter, review the list of current subscribers who have not opened your emails and move them to inactive. Sending messages to unmonitored mailboxes could flag you as a spammer with domains such as Gmail. 

It’s a privilege to have your readers trust with their email address. Treat their time and attention with care.