Back to Basics: 5 Essential Steps to Email Marketing

With seasonal changes comes an inbox full of updates, newsletters and email marketing attempts. Many of these attempts go unnoticed for a simple reason: the lack of effort and professionalism is evident.

There is a variety of email marketing software available to help you create an effective and visually-appealing email template, but not everybody has a budget for this. Check out these email marketing basics and fundamental steps to ensure that your efforts aren’t overlooked.

Pay Attention to Your Subject Line and Headline

According to Vertical Response, over 50% of readers will open an email based solely on the subject line. Although a subject line seems small when compared to the rest of the email’s content, this one line is the first impression that you have on your readers. If you don’t do it right, it could also be the last impression. Make sure that the subject line you choose summarizes the content of the email or highlights the most important piece of your newsletter. Consider including some sort of call-to-action or a clever play-on-words, and avoid vocabulary that will make readers think that you are only interested in selling them something.

If readers open the email, the headline will make a large difference in whether they read the entire email or not. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. Allow the headline to be as attention-grabbing as the subject line, and have it complement the rest of the email’s content.

Embrace the White Space

Content is obviously important and you will want every important word to be read. However, too much text can completely turn a reader off, even if they are interested in what you have to say. Rather than using lines or borders to separate your content, just simply leave some white space to create distinction throughout the email. Not only will it make the content easier to scan, but it will also make the overall email look more readable, resulting in more reading and less deleting.

Communicate with Visuals

I have received way too many newsletters that include all text and maybe one or two photos towards the top of the email. I can tell you that I almost instantly send those to the trash. Aside from the headline, images are the first thing readers see as they glance at the email. Many will actually look to the images to get clues about what they will read, so make sure the images are relevant and linked to your website or some call-to-action.

Additionally, consider finding a ratio that works for you and stick to it. If you can get your message across in a more visual way, then perhaps use a 60/40 ratio. If images are becoming irrelevant to your message, bump the text up to 70%. Just keep in mind that some browsers or settings may block images, so make images complementary and not the sole focus of your email marketing.

Less is Definitely More

Some of the best and most visually appealing email marketing efforts include the simplest designs. Although software like Adobe Creative Cloud allow for endless creativity and complex graphics, basic fonts and flat design are very much “in” right now. While you may lean towards fancy fonts to make a statement, timeless fonts like “helvetica” and “garamond” are expert favorites and will make any design look great.

Show Your Commitment

Another way to boost your reach is with a professional email address, such as Using a professional and consistent address that represents your business will allow readers to know that the email they’re receiving is credible. Sites like Zoho allow you to host your business email for free.

Consistency goes beyond a professional email and signature. Whether you send an email once a week or once a day, make sure readers know when to expect it. According to Hub Spot, companies that send 16 – 30 messages a month see a click rate more than 2X greater than the click rate of companies that send 2 or less each month. This will change depending on your organization’s mission and scope, but finding that sweet spot and sticking to it is important to creating reliability.

Email communication is crucial to engaging your audience in this age of technology, whether your organization seeks to educate with newsletter subscriptions or attract volunteers and donations. It’s a process that requires commitment and being meticulous with your choices. If you’re new to email marketing, don’t sweat it. Start with the essentials and adjust them to fit your organization’s and your audience’s growing needs.


Angela Cuadros

September 18, 2015

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