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A couple of things to think about when sending email

With all the focus lately falling on social networks and social media, it feels a bit like email is getting a rough deal. Make no mistake, email is still alive, well and very important as a communication, branding and sales tool. So with this in mind I jotted down a couple of thoughts about email.

These are all based on previous experience and not in any order

From Address

Make sure that this is something that the recipient can identify. Having your company name in the from address will make it easier for your recipients to know that it's you.

Subject Line
Subject lines are tricky. Too salesy, and you'll get stuck in the spam box. Too plain, and you won't get any one to open it. You'll need to test a couple of different stories so that you can decide which one you want to use.

Here's one way to do it:
Come up with a couple of different subject lines. Send these to a small percentage of your list and check the response. So, for example, if you have 1000 memberes on your mailing list, send subject line A to about 100 members and Subject Line B to about 100 members. Give this a day or so and then see which subject line worked best. Now you can use the winning subject line and send this out to the balance of your subscribers.

Header Image
Pictures a great way to communicate in a very quick easy way. The trick is not to get too carried away. Here are a couple of tips to consider when designing your header image.

Wider is badder.
Try not to make your images too wide or your readers will need to scroll in order to see all the information. It might also cause their email clients to wig out.

See the lighter side of life
Try and keep your header images as small as possible (in terms of k size). Heavier images take longer to load and this will probably irritate your readers (especially in a country like SA where bandwidth is still an issue).

Call to action
You'll need to choose what it is that you want your email to say. What's the one thing that you want your email to say? Try not to cram too much info in to the header image.

Body Copy
This is the really important part of your email, the meat of the matter if you will. There's always a temptation to add too much to a newsletter. If you add too much content, it just becomes boring. I've always considered a newsletter as a entry point. It's there to direct traffic to your website or your blog or your sales offer. Whatever the case, try not to cram too much in to the body of your newsletter or quite frankly you'll bore your readers. Instead, have a summary or shortened version of your article with a link where readers can go to read more.

As with your header image, try and stick to your Call to Action and not add too many different incentives to click. Too many CTA's and your mail becomes confusing.

A tip that I've found to work is to have clearly outlined sections. Use different sizes or colours or even header graphics to split out your content in a way that makes it easy for your readers to pick out what it is they want to read.

The signature is a very underrated part of an email. In addition to containing your details, don't forget to add your website link. It's also a great place to add a P.S. I've found that a little something in the PS field always tests well and gets pretty good click through rates.

This is the section of your mail where you need to include your unsubscribe information so that if you do piss anyone off, they can leave your club. With anyone and everyone having a social media profile of some sort, this is a great place to add links to your social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or any other network.

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