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Creating compelling, attention grabbing, response provoking, email messages is always challenging. There simply is no absolute, definitive formula for successfully crafting the perfect email message. Sometimes what works incredibly well for one company, would fail miserably for another.  There are, however, a number of traits that many successful email marketing messages tend to share.

1. Attention

Most people receive an large number of emails each day (over 120 on average). In order for a marketing message to be successful, it first must stand out from the competition. In this case, ‘competition’ means every other message in the recipient’s inbox – since they are all competing for attention.  One aspect of an email that is most likely to appear visibly in every inbox variation is the subject line.  While companies often spend vast amounts of time optimizing the content of their emails, the subject line is sometimes an afterthought.

The subject line, along with the “From” field, is one of the first elements of a message that the recipient notices and on which he or she will base the decision of whether to open the message – or simply delete it. These decisions are made in a matter of seconds, so it is imperative to capture the reader’s attention immediately. The subject line should hint at an offer or touch on an important topic that will be included in the email content. But, make sure the subject line does in fact match up to the content in the email. One easy way to turn off your recipients is to have a misleading subject line that give the recipient an expectation of what they will find in the content that is not met when they actually read the email.

2. Value

As Bates noted, email campaigns should strive to provide value to the recipients. It can be tempting to use every message as a sales pitch for a different product or service. However, most people don’t particularly like being sold to. If they feel a company’s email are overly sales focused, they will likely engage with them less and less over time. Instead, email campaign management should center on providing actual value to the recipient. It may be that a special offer (weekly special, etc.) may be exactly the valuable content that the recipients will value, so it is important to understand what your subscribers expect and what they value in the emails they receive from your company.

3. Brevity

When it comes to email marketing, providing too much information is often worse than not providing enough. If a reader sees a wall of text from a marketer, he or she will likely opt to not bother reading the message. Instead, marketers should strive to create messages that entice and leave the reader wanting more, eager for the next email or ready to visit the company’s website to learn more.

There are most definitely exceptions to the brevity rule. In some industries, the long-form email has proven to be incredibly engaging with their audiences and driving response. A key is understanding your audience and looking at what has worked historically in your industry. You may choose to do something new and different, but understanding what other companies have done before can provide valuable guidance to your future efforts.

By: Tom Wozniak, Executive Director of Marketing