What makes a good email?

With a relentless flood of art marketing emails pouring into my newsletter inbox each day, it is all too easy for the less-than-standout (read: boring & poorly designed) emails to be evaporated away by my delete key.

I have become very quick and merciless at this. My time is my own to spend – and babble doesn’t get a cent.

So when a well-designed/thought-out/interest-grabbing email causes me to hesitate before turning it to trash, I take notice. Congratulations, you’ve just passed step one – getting your readers attention. If you’ve presented the email properly, I’ll be tempted enough to load images and click through your links.

So the question to be asked is this: “What makes an email ‘good’?” 

Here we look at three major influencing factors…

They open it

Simple, no? No.

Getting the elusive reader to actually open your email is hurdle number one. Too many times will an email be purged from its inbox existence due to its failure to capture your attention as an item of real interest.

The most obvious element to tackle here are the message details: subject line and sender – as these are the first things they see. It needs to make the recipient WANT to open the art newsletter – and there are many numbers of reasons where this will miss the mark.

Too long.

Too short.

Too many exclamations!!!!!!!!

Too irrelevant.

A subject line needs to explain what the email is, who it’s from and what is in it for the reader – which is no easy task.

For example; the subject line, “John Y’s June Art Newsletter”, will likely not gather as many interested readers as, “The latest paintings from John Y”, or, “John Y has five amazing things you need to know.”

It also needs to be relevant to the recipient. Suppose I’m subscribed to receive workshops emails. In that case, I don’t necessarily want to be sent information on art fairs announcements. This ties in with the quality of your database and the amount of information you have on your contacts.

Good information in = good information out.

However, there is more to increasing an open email rate than just having a stellar subject line.

They read it

Getting the recipient to open your message is a good start. Now don’t abuse them and lose them.

A sure-fire way of losing readership is to create an expectation and then not deliver, so hopefully, your content matches the subject matter you have pulled them in with.

If you have a large list – segment it, so you’re sending the right content to the right recipients.

If you fail to do this, you will end up with more unsubscribers than you can poke a stick at (don’t actually poke a stick at them… they won’t like it).

Remember, a successful electronic mail campaign is NOT about pushing your own message out to the world. It should be to give the reader something interesting or useful to THEM.

This destroys trust.

They whitelist it

A tantamount and often neglected part of the equation is the trust that your recipient has in you, your brand and your message.

If a recipient trusts that you are sending them something relevant, they are likely to open the email and at least skim it, even if the subject line bombs.

How do you build trust?

That’s really very simple. Reliability. Be reliable.

Let me present a simple equation:

If Billy sends an email once a week for three weeks and then not again for two months, followed by four emails in 24 hours, how many unsubscribers will he get?

Exactly. (Even more, if the content is irrelevant or if the wind is blowing East and it’s a Sunday).

This may sound monotonous but keep things the same: structure, design, content style, frequency and even the time of day that you send.

This will build a one-directional rapport with your subscribers as they know what to expect, and even anticipate, from your emails.

And if your reader gets what they expect, then they’re happy, you’re happy, and your bank account is happy.

So there you have it, emails as easy as 1 – 2 – 3. Let us know your experience.