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  • Five Steps to Effective E-Mail Marketing for Your Small Business: Part 1, the E-Mail Message

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    The phenomenal growth of e-mail marketing over the past few years has left many small business owners wishing they could profit from the same approaches that larger businesses and corporations use. Now more than ever, small businesses have access to innumerable services that the big boys have. Simply Google ” e-mail marketing services ” and you’ll see what I mean.


    While the technical side of this is largely in the hands of software developers who live and breathe to make e-mail marketing a snap, the writing side of e-mail marketing is largely up to your imagination or the creative team you hire to do the copywriting. So whether you plan to use e-mail marketing to send out special offers and announcements, newsletters, catalog updates, or more, your first step will be to get your message across as clearly as possible. If your looking for more detail along these lines, Cogent Text offers more writing tips for your small business.


    Two Parts, One Aim 

    Writing e-mail marketing copy is roughly a two-part process. The first part involves writing the e-mail message itself; the second, writing the landing page or microsite. While writing the e-mail message, you need to keep this in mind because while the e-mail message is the tease, the landing page is essentially an extended sales letter. The aim of the e-mail message, then, is to offer sufficient incentive for the customer to click a link to the landing page.


    If It Looks Like Spam, It Is Spam 

    Most customers are able to judge e-mail content by its subject line. That is, if it looks like spam, it probably is spam. Worse, customers often treat “businessy” subject lines as spam unless the subject relates directly to their account. As PR Smith and Ze Zook write in Marketing Communications, “It is essential that e-mail is opt-in; otherwise, it is illegal spam.”


    Even then, opt-in marketing opens a door to successive e-mails, which can prompt a customer to opt out. One way you can make it relevant is to include your company’s name in the subject line followed by the purpose of the message (for example, BrownCow Widgets: October Newsletter or Invitation from BrownCow Widgets). In short, the more closely the subject line relates to the customer or the customer’s needs, the less it will be perceived as spam.


    Eye-Catching Headlines 

    Just as a well-chosen subject line will help guarantee that your customer opens the e-mail, starting off the message with a strong headline will help ensure that your message will be read.


    Write powerful, motivating headlines–assertive headlines that capture attention and are at the same time straightforward. You don’t have to do this alone. Innumerable books and marketing websites can point you in the right direction. Pay attention to the e-mail marketing that comes to your in-box and see what works and what doesn’t. You might also want to start collecting e-mail messages in a swipe file, or collection of messages you find inspiring either for design or content.


    A Letter to a Friend 

    Writing e-mail marketing copy is a bit like writing a friend. Yet, the two forms of writing intersect in a couple of ways. As a business owner, you want to share something exclusive with your customers, and you also genuinely believe you have something good to offer. Get to the point early, though, because twenty dozen other things wait in the wings, so the offer should appear worthwhile. Make clear for the customer 1) what the offer is and 2) where to go to find out more. For example, state the offer and then provide a link to the landing page.


    Restate the Offer and Keep it Short 

    Before closing the message, restate the offer and any other key information about the offer, such as an “act by” date. A gentle nudge rather than gaudy exclamations often prompts the customer to visit the site. This is the mildest and most reliable of ways to guide customers to your site. Because you’ll depend on the landing page to deliver heavier, more detailed information, you don’t need to be long-winded in the e-mail message. Ideally, the message should be no more than 250 to 400 good essay transition words. Finally, add a P.S. to restate the purpose of the message and include linked phrases such as “click here” or “Visit us today.”

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