There are three times more email accounts than there are Facebook and Twitter accounts combined.
Post something to Facebook and it will be seen by 6% of your followers; email it and the open rate will be 20-30%.
Studies continually show that email marketing outperforms social media marketing in nearly every industry. That’s why Campaign Monitor says your best ROI will come from email, not social media.
Email, boring ol’ email, can be your most effective form of communication.
The flavor-of-the-month social media app might garner all the attention, but it’s tried-and-true email that will work better for you.
But before you open up the email program and start sending messages, let’s talk about how to make your email more effective. Here are three keys to writing better email – the kind of messages people want to read and the kind of messages that inspire action.
#1 – Write like a person.
“Effective January 1, 2015, we have ceased operations at this location. For further information, correspondence should be addressed to our headquarters.”
People don’t talk like that. So why do they write like that? It’s cold, corporate, and largely ineffective.
It’s better to write like you talk.
And Godin gives the better example:
“We closed this store last year. Sorry for the hassle, please call us if you have any questions.”
Whether you’re sending an email to one person, a small group of people, or your entire email list, write like a person. That message is coming from you, not your company or organization.
Think about the messages you receive from friends compared to the messages you send from companies. Despite the fancy graphics and HTML formatting, it’s the personal messages that stand out.
So write like a normal person. Be yourself. Let your personality come through.
#2 – Write to a person.
Just like you should write like a normal person, remember you’re writing to a real person as well.
You’re not writing to a group of people, you’re writing to one person.
When you’re sending an email to one person, it’s easy to remember this. But when you’re emailing a group, it might be helpful to have one specific person in mind. Some people call this a persona. Other people use the term avatar.
When you create an avatar, you can be more strategic in your communication, visualize the person you’re writing to, and relate to them like a normal human being.
For what it’s worth, here’s the short version persona we created for Church Fuel, the company we created to provide insanely practical resources to Senior Pastors.
Senior pastors who want to lead their church to healthy growth. Their church is likely under 400 members, but they have a passion to reach people. They recognize they don’t have solid systems or processes and may not know where to start. They read a few church leadership books a year and attend a conference every now and then. They have a small staff.
Focusing your email on a person (or a persona), will help you keep your message people focused. And this is a key to effective communication. People really don’t want to hear about your product, idea, service or organization. It’s rare they want to talk about you or your company?
Do you know what people want to talk about and read about? Themselves.
A lot of people take the selfie approach to communication. Look at me. Check out this offer. Look at this product. It’s me-focused.
Rather than treating your promotion, advertising and outreach like the selfie, you can make one big shift in your approach and see dramatically different results.
Instead of talking about yourself, flip the camera and talk about others. Instead of promoting your events, add value to people’s lives. A selfie strategy keeps the focus on you, but a value approach shifts the focus to them.
I wrote more about this here and this principle is huge for your email communication.
#3 – And use a good subject line.
Did you know more people read the subject line of the email than the email itself? In fact, it’s six times as many.
Six times more people will read the subject. That means the subject of the email – usually a first thought or an afterthought – is the most important sentence.
The most important part of your email message is the subject line.
Here are four subject line tips, adapted from the book Advertising Headlines that Make You Rich.
- Draw attention to a problem or desire that people have. So instead of saying, “Financial Class on Thursday night,” say something like, “Learn how to save money for your dreams this Thursday.” That let’s people know that the information you’re communicating is about them, not just you.
- Show people how to avoid mistakes. Instead of “Save money on your heating bill,” say, “Avoid These Five Major Winter Mistakes.” Negative headlines (five mistakes, three dumb things, etc.) have better click rates.
- Use comparisons. There’s a reason that spam emails say things like “you can have the body of a supermodel.” It’s because comparisons frame the discussion and speak to people’s desires. “You’re like my favorite superhero” is better than “Thanks for being a customer.”
- Show people that something is easy. “It’s easy to self-publish your book” is much better than “The Difference Between Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing.” People need to know that they can do it.
With a little focus and some practice, you can craft great email messages that people really want to read and will inspire people to take action.