I'm following up my last article about evaluating your e-mail campaigns and focusing on the copy in your e-mail. This is an area where a little attention can make a big difference in your bottom line. None of the following suggestions are groundbreaking, but they are things I see clients overlook repeatedly. They are simple to identify and correct.
1. Make sure there's not a disconnect between the subject line and your opening e-mail copy.
Never forget the reason a person opens your e-mail is most probably because of the subject line. The subject line should transition smoothly to the initial screen of your e-mail. Don't repeat the subject line verbatim without adding value or detail. And don't "bury the lead." Provide the additional value or detail at the beginning of the copy. You've only got a few seconds to pull them in -- give them what they came for or risk losing them.
Example: A client's subject line touted "2 Months of Free Service." The campaign got a fair open rate, but click-throughs from the e-mail to the page where the reader could take action were disappointing. I noticed the e-mail didn't provide more detail on the free portion of the offer until the third paragraph -- the reader first had to wade through text discussing a lower monthly fee and free activation. The client would have been better off staying on message and discussing the free months first, satisfying the reader's curiosity from the subject line. Then it could have gone into additional details of the offer.
2. Make sure all paths lead to the action you want your readers to take.
Don't send your readers off on tangents with copy, or worse, add links that don't lead to your goal. You want to keep readers focused and guide them to the action you want them to take. Extraneous information that doesn't assist in their decision process and links that take them off the path to the action jeopardize your desired outcome.
Example: A client offered a special discount price available "only through this e-mail campaign." The first link in the e-mail provided additional information about the company, taking the reader to the company's home page. There, the only price referenced was the higher, regular price. This probably created a disconnect for some readers and took them off the direct path to the discount offer. Though the click-through rate from the e-mail wasn't bad, the number of people who actually began the discount sign-up process was disappointing.
3. Make sure copy focuses on what readers want to know, need to know, or both.
Your e-mail campaign asks readers to take action. Put yourself in their shoes and figure out what they want to know, need to know, or both to take that action. Then, make sure that information is included in your appeal. At the same time, you're probably proud of some things as a company, but they won't really influence readers one way or another. Leave these out of your e-mail campaign. Be clear and concise with your message to be effective.
Example: I managed a renewal effort to get people whose service expiration date was approaching to renew now instead of waiting. We anticipated the readers' key questions:
When does my service expire?
Will I see a better deal between now and then?
And we answered them in the appeal:
Within the next three months
None better than this
By doing so, we were able to lift the response rate by 60 percent over previous efforts.
4. Make sure to include multiple calls to action at key locations in your e-mail.
Recognize that different people are ready to take action at different times. Some may be ready after just a paragraph or two; others need more information. Don't make those who are ready early wait; provide multiple links so people can move on to the next step when they are ready.
Example: I just created an e-mail campaign for a publication whose parent company makes a donation to a local charity for each new subscription, renewal, or gift subscription. We included multiple calls to action with links to let people take the action when they have enough information:
The first paragraph describes the offer and names the charity. Then after a line of white space, it says: "To take advantage of this offer, visit: (online order form link) or read on to learn more."
The next two paragraphs describe the charity (for those who weren't familiar with it) and the publication's features and benefits. Then comes the second call to action: "Don't miss out. Subscribe, renew, or give a gift subscription today by visiting: (online order form link)."
After the closing and the publisher's signature, I have a PS, reviewing the offer and (more important) the deadline for taking advantage of the offer, with still another link to the online order form.
I hope this helps you to further evaluate your own e-mail campaigns and to improve your results. As I said last time, take a fresh look at your campaigns, and let me know what you find. Often, seemingly small changes can have a big, positive impact on your bottom line.
Jeanne Jennings is a consultant with over 10 years of experience in using e-mail and the Internet to generate revenue. Areas of expertise include customer acquisition/retention, new product development, and identifying and exploiting synergies between offline and online products/campaigns to increase revenue. Visit her website at JeanneJennings.com.