Here are my other core email copy guidelines for ensuring your email really hits the spot.
5) HTML header
By this, I’m referring to the piece of copy that appears before the email proper begins. Most silly people write some nonsense such as, “If you are having trouble viewing this email communication, click here to view online version.” Pah! What a waste of space and a missed opportunity to boot. Remember, if your email is predominantly images (which it shouldn’t be – more on this in my upcoming email design blog) this is the only copy customers will see, so make use of it.
The HTML copy should include:
– Prompt to view an online version – this can simply say, ‘View online version’.
– Description of the offer (a chance to expand on the subject line), for example: “Save on your home loan with blah blah.” If people know what the mail is about, they’re going to be more inclined to download images.
– Prompt to add the email address to the Safe Sender list or Address Book.
Do you need one? Is saying ‘Dear Kate’ really important at the start of an email? I think these days few people are impressed that you actually know their name; they’re looking for cleverer personalisation than that. I’d lose the salutation altogether but, if you must have it, consider something a little less formal such as ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Hey’, ‘Hola’, ‘G’day’. ‘Dear’ is a hangover from proper letters and an email is not a proper letter.
Your footer should always include:
– Unsubscribe option – and make it an easy one. A one-click unsubscribe is best. If you make users go back to some subscription form and faff about logging in and so on, they’ll only hate you for it.
– Update details – an option to update out-of-date details or email address.
– Send statement – an explanation for why the email was sent such as: ‘This email was sent to <email address> on <date> as a result of registering at <name of website> on <date>.
8) Body copy
Keep it short and to the point. People are less willing to read long copy in emails than they are on the web. Two paragraphs should be enough to get your message across; you can explain the detail fully on the site.
Ensure you use bullets, bold, sub headers, snippets and hyperlinks to break your copy up.
9) Consider a table of contents
A nice set of HTML links at the top of your email can really help make it more digestible to the end user. Often good email designers use the ‘empty space’ on the right to create a menu for the email, including links, ads and other tit-bits.
10) Text version
Since more and more people are viewing emails on mobile devices, your text version could be more important than your HTML. As such, you need to write the copy for it separately. All too often I’ve seen text emails that ask me to ‘check out the picture below’ or are just so badly formatted that they are illegible. Take the time to craft a separate version and format it with capitals and keyboard symbols.
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