Anatomy of a successful emailWhat are you doing wrong with your email marketing?

Why is no one opening them?

Why, when on the very odd occasion they actually do, is the click-through rate always a big, fat 0%?

There’s no one-size-fits-all magic bullet for email marketing. However, there are some common practices you can lean on in order to maximise the chances of your hard work being engaged with and acted upon.

The problem is that if you don’t follow them, you’ll quickly lose interest. And that’s a shame, because email is still one of best ways to market your brand and get your products and services in front of as many eyes as possible.

Let’s not panic. Let’s break it down. Here’s the anatomy of a successful email. Think of the following like one of those biology classes we’ve all heard about but never actually witnessed.  The one where the teacher forces you to chop up a frog and look at all the gooey stuff inside. Only, with less goo.

The pre-header (you know – the bit you never fill out)

Go on, admit it – like far too many people, you ignore that pre-header section when constructing your email marketing campaigns.  Don’t you?

It just seems a bit pointless and yet another bit of text you need to come up with.  In reality, it’s often the first piece of text people will see beyond the subject line.

You don’t get a lot of space, although you do get more than the subject line, so make good use of it and expand a little on the latter. Make it enticing so your audience wants to continue reading.

The logo (who are you, man?)

You’d be surprised by how many email marketing campaigns include shoddy or fascinatingly well-hidden logos in their design.

You know who you are, but does the recipient? Even if they’ve been buying stuff from you for the last twenty years, can you be sure they’ll immediately recognise your email based on the sender address and your opening gambit?

They probably won’t.

Devote a serious chunk of the upper third of your email (known as the ‘above-the-fold’ area) to the logo; it’ll offer immediate recognition, build trust and ensure your brand is something none of your recipients forget.

Allow people to get in touch – please

Good news: some of your recipients will be that intrigued by your subject line and pre-header that they’ll want to get in touch immediately.

Bad news: if you don’t offer quick contact options in the upper third of your email, they might give up. Yep – they’re that fickle.

It’s amazing how many businesses forget to include quick contact options in their emails. Don’t be that company!  Put your telephone, email address (yep, they can hit ‘reply’, but people will often look for something to click) and website address front and centre.

And by no means is it ever OK to use a “No-Reply” email address!

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Read all about it!

The headline! This is your big chance! The recipient has read the subject line and the pre-header, recognised your logo and now wants to know exactly how you’re going to make their life inexplicably better.

Don’t ruin it. This is your moment. Make sure the brilliant first impression you’ve made doesn’t fall apart with a dreadful or non-existent headline. And, whatever you do, on pain of death, don’t use an image instead of text!

The CTA: what do you want them to do?

It’s laughable when you receive an email that’s brilliantly designed, well-written and appears to present an offer that is designed perfectly for you, but which offers no obvious way of saying “yes please, I’d like to take advantage of this”.

We noted the importance of quick contact options above, but that doesn’t mean you can get away without a call-to-action (CTA). In fact, without one, you may as well not have bothered. Sorry.

A CTA is a clear indication of what the reader needs to do next, and it usually comes in the form of a massive button that says “buy now”, “find out more” or, a bit more creatively, “you’ve whetted my appetite – tell me more!”.

It should be in that above-the-fold area, but don’t be afraid to repeat it further down, either. Just make sure it’s OBVIOUS.

A balance of imagery and text

Although things have changed somewhat when it comes to mobile internet connection speeds and the way in which modern email clients handle content, it’s still important to cater for people who may not be able to see the images on your email.

This can be for a variety of reasons, with poor connectivity and security settings that disable automatic image loading the two most common culprits.

It remains good practice to maintain a sensible balance of imagery and text in your emails, but save the important stuff for the latter. If your CTA can’t be read as text, for instance, you’re going to prevent a significant chunk of your audience from seeing it.

It’s all about you (well, them)

Personalisation can be thought of as the ethereal, electrified energy that sits within the genetic makeup of an email campaign. It’s what separates ‘ok’ emails from those that break statistical records and provide an incredible return on investment.

Providing you’ve picked the right email marketing client, you’ll be able to collect data ethically about your subscribers that enables you to send personalised emails to them which talk directly to their preferences and needs.

A personalised email campaign is the nicest to receive from a subscriber’s point of view, but they won’t think, “ooh, this is personalised”, instead, they’ll think, “wow – this company really gets me. This is exactly what I need” – and that’s how you build long-lasting relationships with customers.Mobility

It’s a shame we still have to mention this, but as we’re dissecting a successful modern email, this particular innard is impossible to ignore.

You’ve read a million statistics on this before, but the fact remains: most people who open your emails will do so on their smartphone. If it doesn’t open at all, or if they have to pinch and squint to see the content, you’ve got it catastrophically wrong.

Happily, the best email marketing software will ensure your emails work on mobile devices by default. Yay.

Leave me alone: let them say “goodbye”

You’ll never satisfy everyone. Even the people with whom you’ve had long-standing relationships may one day decide to turn and inexplicably leave.

It might feel impossible not to extend a hand and grab theirs tightly, begging them not to go. Tears might flow, and promises about becoming a better email marketer follow, but some people just don’t care.

Let them go. Drop your guard. Please, please put an obvious unsubscribe option somewhere on your emails.

Wrap up

There we have it – a fully dissected successful email!

Sure, it wasn’t quite as gory a process as opening up a frog (that’s a good thing, right?).  At least you know how to engage, inspire and motivate people to click that CTA!

About 

Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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