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4 Components of a Killer Email

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Email marketing idea boardSo you want to write a killer email, huh?

This guest post from DJ Waldow gives great insight into 4 components that every killer email should have. DJ has nearly a decade of email marketing experience and currently lives in San Francisco where he consults on email marketing and social media. He does many speaking gigs at conferences around the country too so keep an eye out for him coming to a city near you! Thanks again DJ for your time and helping our readers make the most of the email marketing.

But, before we dive into the 4 components of a perfect email, it’s important that you’re clear on your goals.

Goals of Email Marketing

You do have goals, right? Possible email marketing goals could include:

Brand Awareness (aka, “Read my emails!”) – you are sending out emails with the hope that people read them. More people reading = more knowledge about your product and/or service.

Website Pageviews (aka, “Click through, please!”) – you are sending out emails with the hope that people will to open them, then click on one or more links which points back to your website and/or blog. More click-throughs = more pageviews.

Conversion (aka, “Buy Stuff!”) – you are sending out emails with the hope that people will open, click, and ultimately buy something. This “conversion” does not have to be a product or service, but could be a whitepaper (or eBook) download or a webinar registration.

4 components of a killer email

Okay. Have you picked your email marketing goal? Good. Now, let’s move on to the 4 components of a killer email.

1) Recognizable and Trusted From Name

If you want someone to open your email (vs. delete it or mark it as spam), it’s important that you are a recognizable and trusted sender. Many people don’t take the time to read every single email in their inbox before making the open/trash decision. We skim. Think about the emails you open vs. the ones you delete. If you don’t recognize who it’s from, you are less likely to open it. If you do know the sender, yet the emails they typically send are not all that valuable, you’re also less likely to open it.

2) Subject Line That Stands Out

Sure, there may be some instances when a boring subject line can work (most often when the sender is recognizable and trusted – see #1), but for the most part a compelling email subject line is going to stand out in the inbox. This is one of the reasons we are seeing an uptick in marketers using symbols in their subject lines. They are unique. They cause you to pause for just a split second. That split second is often all it takes for your email to stand out … and get opened.

3) Call to Action That’s Clear and Compelling

If you have to make me guess what action you want me to take in your email, you’ve already lost me. Don’t make your subscribers work for it. Make your call to action clear. Make it obvious. Make it so in your face that it’s impossible to miss. I can’t tell you the number of emails I get where I scratch my head after 7 or 8 seconds … pondering what I’m supposed to do next. Having your subscribers ponder the next action in your email is a bad thing!

4) Unsubscribe That’s Easy and Obvious

If someone no longer finds your emails valuable, make it easy for them to opt-out. You don’t need to create a new unsubscribe image for each email you send (like Chris Penn does – though his are pretty awesome); however whatever you do, don’t make your subscribers work to opt-out. If they have to search for the opt-out and/or you make them jump through hoops to get off your list, they are more likely to hit the “Mark This As Spam” button. That action ends up negatively impacting your overall email deliverability. Not good.

All of that being said, you still have to test what works best for your audience. REMEMBER: Email marketing best practices are those that are best for YOUR audience. Do you have an example of an email marketing message that fits the 4 criteria above? If so, please send them my way. I’d love to share them!

DJ Waldow is an email marketing consultant, writer, blogger, speaker, and co-author of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. DJ has spent nearly 9 years in the email, social, and community-building world, advising clients on how to optimize their email marketing campaigns and–on occasion–break some of the “best practice” rules. DJ is also the co-host of The Work Talk Show, a weekly podcast on how work gets done.

DJ can be found on most social networks under the handle “djwaldow”.” He is an alumnus of the University of Michigan (Go Blue), a knowledge craver, a sponge, and a lover of beer, coffee & people.


About DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow is an email marketing consultant, writer, blogger, speaker, and co-author of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. He is the founder of Waldow Social, a company that helps make email marketing go from boring to WOW. DJ has spent 10+ years in the email, social, and community-building world, advising clients on how to optimize their email marketing campaigns and--on occasion--break some of the “best practice” rules. DJ is also the co-host of The Work Talk Show, a weekly podcast on how work gets done.DJ can be found on most social networks under the handle “djwaldow”. DJ is an alumnus of the University of Michigan (Go Blue), a knowledge craver, a sponge, & a lover of beer, coffee & people.

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These are great tips by DJ Waldow. It never ceases to amaze me how much of an impact on open rates an effective subject line can have. My tip is to do split testing, or pulse testing (subject line A on week one, subject line B on week two, etc.) to help gauge effectiveness. The other crucial element is an unsubscribe option. There is nothing more frustrating to me than receiving a newsletter (even one I’ve subscribed to at some point in the past), and not having the option to unsubscribe. A friendly, transparent layout will often keep me subscribed,… Read more »
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