Email Content: 10 Best Practices

“Well crafted email content is the key to email marketing success.”

That may sound like an understatement but it is the absolute truth.

According to Responsys, email marketing by the retail industry grew by 19% in 2012. The single biggest email marketing day came on Cyber Monday with 93% of retailers sending out a promotional email.

Email marketing is no doubt flourishing for retail brands –

Which brings up the subject of email content and best practices…

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These staggering numbers by the retail industry mean several things, but perhaps the biggest take-away lies in the fact that your customers or prospects are actually on these lists as well as yours.

They experienced these emails firsthand.

After about the 10th offer for “free shipping,” they probably began deleting more than they read.

So the question of the day is “What do you say in your email content to entice an open from your customers?”

Here are 10 best practices for email content to help your messages rise above the crowd:

1) Make it me –focused. Not you, but me. I don’t care about your new product, but I care about getting more clients. I also don’t care about your webinar, but I do care about a technique to boost my web traffic.

Your subscribers care about their business. If what you are offering is not about something specific for their business, rework your content or offer.

2) Be specific with your message. Webinars about Facebook are a dime a dozen. Not that you shouldn’t do one, because they obviously work. But offer a webinar about something specific, some awesome technique that can help your customers boost their business.

Unless you are a Facebook superstar, like Mari Smith, offering a specific strategy for Facebook is much more effective than a broad angle.

3) Do something unusual. Have you done a survey lately? What about a new follow-up series? Or even better, what about an email series pushing for Twitter shares?

It’s the unusual, out of the ordinary content that gets recognized, ordinary promos are boring and quickly forgotten.

4) Leverage your content. This is something that is going to become more and more necessary as a general content best practice. With the masses pumping out barely readable content left and right, quality content is more of a prized possession than something to churn and burn.

One solution: when you find an email converted well, take that message, expand on the idea and write a blog post or create a document and share it. Or turn it into a free report. Leverage your winners and re-work the losers.

5) Ask a question of your readers. What better way to engage than to ask a question. You hear a lot about engagement on social media, but what about your email subscribers? They can be the greatest source of engagement – even greater than social media.

But the lines of communication have to be open.

Ask a question and offer something of value in return for their answers.

6) Vary your call to action. A call to action is an essential part of an email message. Never send an email message without one.

Having said that, it never hurts to change things up a bit. Do you usually send promo emails directly to the offer? Write a blog post about the offer and send them to that instead. If you normally send a link to your latest blog posts, try sending them directly to an offer.

Call to actions can be for anything and everything. But if you’ve been sending the same type messages for a while, then try something different.

7) Give them some resources. Yes, just good old fashioned resources. Sometimes the simplest emails are the most appreciated. A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve found something uber-helpful to you, chances are, your subscribers will too.

Some helpful ones I’ve given out in the past are Hootsuite, the Hellobar and my newest, Greeter Band plugin.

8) Have an opinion about your industry. The straight and narrow road is the safe way to go, but if you really want to be seen as the expert in your niche, you have to step out and make yourself heard.

In other words, whatever is trending in your area of focus, take a stance and speak up. Keep up with the hot topics, put your own spin on it and send it out.

9) All email content is not created equal. Are you still hitting that “send to all” button in your autoresponder? General, broadcast emails are wayyy outdated. The new wave is called segmentation. Segmentation means people on your list get messages applicable to only them.

Here’s how to get your segmentation started…

Send a broadcast email. The next day or so, look under your subscribers section. Go into your search section and search for link clicked (or if you just want who opened it, select opened). The results you see can all be segmented from the others because they have indicated an interest in _______ (whatever your offer was).

10) Create a killer email welcome series. Every new subscriber that joins your list is a person interested in what you have offered. So the first few emails are crucial to establishing a good relationship with your new potential raving fan.

Your welcome series can be a series of 7 emails or a series of 30 emails. The point is to just compose one and put it to work (on autopilot!) for you.

These best practices for email content are all geared towards laying the foundation for a successful email marketing campaign.

What used to be an afterthought, email content now requires more skill and actual content to stand out in a crowded inbox.

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