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20 Email Marketing Tips to Boost Engagement and Readership

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Email keeps people connected. It's a modern marvel, a wonder of our time. Based solely on how many times a day people check their emails (especially those in their 20s and 30s), email marketing should be a huge deal.

So what's the problem?

Mainly because of the practice of sending out mass emails with little or no thought about tailoring content, some have augured the death of email marketing. Email is nowhere close to being dead, of course. It just requires a certain amount of work to make your emails connect with your target audiences.

Especially if you're targeting the twenty- and thirty-somethings who make up the core of the millennial demographic, here are 20 email marketing tips to help boost engagement.

1. Be more personal: Why does social media have so much clout in the world of marketing? It's because audiences respond well to one-on-one interaction, which social media delivers efficiently. Your emails need to be written as though you're only speaking to one person, the recipient. Stop talking about your subscribers or your list. Stick to one person.


2. Skip the bait-and-switch: Unscrupulous email marketing tactics in the past have made it difficult to let people know that you're true and honest. Considering the vast amounts of email spam, it's no wonder that people doubt sincerity in emails. So be honest. Make sure that your email is clear and contains no ambiguities. Your readers will reward you for it.

3. Write naturally: Have you ever encountered someone who constantly mentioned your name, even when a pronoun would suffice? Though you should be personal, you should also be wary about overdoing it. Write naturally. And even though you use their names, do it in such a way that it flows with the conversation. The worst thing you can do is write a stilted email. It comes off as creepy and guarantees the reader won't click on any links you send their way.

4. Enrich your reader's lives: Creating good content means developing content that enriches the lives of your readers. Your email should be built around helping your audience grow in some way, or it should give them a perspective they hasn't considered before. People tend to respond a lot better to content that focuses on helping them and enriching their lives rather than just trying to sell them a product or service.

5. Don't email just for emailing's sake: Is your message important? How important? Is it important enough that if you interrupt your readers in the middle of something else important, they will be glad? Time is a valuable resource and your audience would much prefer you email them only when something important comes up. Sending unnecessary emails will relegate all your emails to the spam folder.

6. Use numbers and statistics: Did you know the average open rates of marketing and e-commerce emails is around 20%? Numbers cause your audience to slow down and think. Use that to your advantage. Use numbers and stats throughout your writing, and especially in your headers, to attract and hold your reader's attention.

7. Tickle their curiosity: Humans are curious. If you give them something interesting that relates to their interests, they will want to know more. Your challenge is to present that in such a way that you tease the reader, but don't give them the entire picture. It's a great way to get someone to open your emails—by offering them a potentially interesting prospect in the subject line.

8. Offer a promise: This one is a double-edged sword, since offering a promise means you need to be able to deliver on it if you are to retain the reader's trust. That said, most people enjoy getting things with little effort. You can use this to your advantage by offering (and delivering) something like a free report to them; that sets the stage for further interactions and increases their trust in you.

9. Keep it simple: You're going to have the urge to be clever in your email titles and headers. Don't. It is possible to attract more attention with clever and witty headlines, but it's much more effective to actually stay on topic and to be direct.

10. Learn from others: Subscribe to a few good email lists and do your best to emulate them. They're the guys in charge for a reason, after all. Using them as a basis for your email writing can give you a huge boost in interaction with your desired audience.

11. Be short and sweet: When people read an email, they don't sit down and take in the entire thing. More often than not, they skim. Learn to be concise.

12. Propose questions: Most speechwriters will affirm that rhetorical questions are among the best ways of engaging an audience. When you ask a question, you reach out to your audience for an answer, and it makes them think. Use questions as a way of maintaining rapport with your reader throughout your email.

13. Don't use a generic, impersonal greeting: Something like that only serves to alienate your reader. Be more personable. People are far more likely to interact with an email that starts, "Hi Jake!" than one that begins, "Good day to you, sir or madam..."

14. There's no easy formula for email marketing: If there were, we'd write a recipe book. Email marketing depends on knowing your audience's likes and dislikes, and focusing on those to generate the intended response. To that end, it requires a lot of planning and no small amount of trial and error to get the message right.

15. Add personality to your writing: You need to write as a person, not a robot. People have a particular cadence to their words and their mannerisms. Email marketing is all about making your audience members feel at home and comfortable. They are more likely to be that way if they think they're talking to a human and not an automated answering machine.

16. Avoid the hard sell, almost always: Knowing your audience allows you to figure out which type of selling works better with them. When you're developing your emails, remember not to overdo your selling; you'll end up sounding like a sleazy salesperson—not someone who has their best interests at heart.

17. Spell out benefits: People have a well-defined sense of self-preservation and self-interest. From the start, speak to them as though they're asking you, "What's in it for me?" They don't want to know how it benefits other people. Most of the time they're concerned with how it benefits them directly. Writing along those lines will ensure you tap into that self-interest pool.

18. Nudge a little: One of the most important things that your writing can do is to develop a sense of urgency and sense of need in the reader. By offering readers something, then limiting the time they have to respond, you push them to make a decision. A gentle nudge in the right direction is all they need sometimes.

19. Intersperse links in the text: By inserting links throughout your email, you raise the probability of one of those links' being clicked and bringing you a new client.

20. Use a P.S. line: A P.S. allows you to hammer home an important piece of information. Is there a time limit on your offer? Is this product going to be available forever? P.S. lines can help to build the desire for the product you're marketing and create an additional sense of urgency in your reader.

Email marketing requires in-depth research into the things that make your audience tick. That can be difficult, but the rewards are spectacular. A good email marketing campaign can produce traffic, subscribers, and sales... and help build your business.

If you don't take shortcuts and stay in it for the long haul, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results of your email marketing efforts.


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Julia McCoy is CEO of Express Writers. A self-taught business owner and a copywriting and SEO addict, she most recently launched the e-commerce Content Shop.

Twitter: @juliaemccoy

Facebook: Julia McCoy

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  • by Niraj Thu Oct 8, 2015 via web

    Excellent article, Julia. Great tips, my pick - add personality to your writing; certainly helps in getting the reader to trust you. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at hiverhq.com)

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