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how to write emails that people want to read

If you think you can write the perfect email for your list then think again, because there’s just no such thing.

The perfect email is a subjective beast that exists solely in the minds of the reader, and it changes from person to person. But don’t let that deter you from trying to craft the perfect prose in your emails, as there are some ‘best practices’ you can use that will go a long way towards improving your response rate and provide a greater ROI on your email marketing plan.

Someone once said (don’t ask me who, I forget) that ‘storytelling is SEO for the human mind.’ Humans have developed a love of storytelling over the millennia that has become firmly ingrained in the psyche, but only the best stories keep us engaged and motivate us into action. Turn your emails into great stories and you’ll always have more of your customers coming back for more.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Get Personal

You want your emails to stay true to the tone and nature of your business but your message should also match the medium in which it is delivered – in this case, email, obviously.

Emails by their very nature are a little more personal than your typical marketing channels, so you can get away with being a little less formal in your delivery.

If you keep the message personal by using the recipient’s name while maintaining proper letter structure, your email will stand a better chance of dodging the spam filter.

2. Tell a Story

Rather than sticking with the same tired old formula of saying ‘if you use X you’ll achieve Y,’ try to frame the story as your own personal anecdote.

Describe how it helped you. If that doesn’t work try relating a story about how it has helped someone you know. Taking some time to set the scene will keep your readers engaged and motivate them into taking action. It’s a lot less yawn-worthy than regurgitating boring facts and figures that very few of your readers can relate to.

3. Provide Value

Every email you send should help the reader in some way – whether that’s a how-to tip or entertainment purposes. Your readers should feel that the time they took to read your email was a worthy investment.

how to write emails that people actually read

When next your emails show up in their inbox then they are more likely to open them to see what other valuable snippets you might be sharing.

4. Don’t Be Overly Promotional

The majority of your email message should be helpful timely information the reader can actually use. A good rule of thumb is to use the 80/20 rule: 80% educational, 20% promotional.

5. Pay Attention to Design Principles

A cluttered email full of fancy graphics and flashy fonts is only going to distract the reader away from the message. Keep the design clean and simple. Use bullet points to outline your most important information and bold headers so readers can quickly scan to the content they need the most.

6. Have a Clear Call to Action

You want your emails to motivate readers into some form of action. This could be to check out an offer, download a product, or click through to a blog post for more information. The important thing is to make it clear to the reader exactly what you want them to do. Use a button if you can, but bold text that is obviously a link can work as well.

7. Don’t Use Tricks

Don’t you hate those emails with a subject line like ‘Your account has been banned,’ which are designed to startle you into clicking through to the email, only to find a spammy marketing message inside? I hate those as well.

You should also stop with the”Oops! Sorry, I forgot to tell you about…” follow up email. It’s an obvious ploy that is only going to irritate loyal subscribers into unsubscribing.

This unscrupulous tactic might do great things for your open rates in the short term, but it will only hurt you in the long term as subscribers rush to the unsubscribe link, or report your email as spam. Keep your headline short, to the point, and on topic. You want your emails to get read but not at the expense of your credibility.

And try to avoid the use of exclamation marks, but if you really must stick to just one.

Keep in mind that value is important but you also want to make sure your emails get the point across in as little time as possible. Everybody leads busy lives these days so make sure your emails respect that.

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