VerticalResponse Blog

Anatomy class in high school was pretty interesting, fun, maybe even a bit gross at times, but it definitely made an impact on everyone who took it. I enjoyed it so much, that I majored in Biology (at least for awhile). While dissecting frogs may not be your cup of tea, dissecting a good email will help you learn the ins and outs of obtaining more opens, clicks and ultimately more business. So let’s bring out the scalpels and get to the heart of the email marketing matter (pun intended)!

From label – This is a key element, as your readers use the it to figure out who sent them the email. The From label is how many people determine if they should open your email or not. Most times, your from label will be your company name as your readers will most often recognize that more than a specific person’s name.

Subject line – Coupled with the from label,  your subject line is the most important part of your email. Once your readers know who has sent the email, the subject line should tell them why they should open and read it. So it’s important you nail your subject line and make it appealing, relevant and attention-getting. Because subject lines are so crucial to your email success, we’ve got a guide to help you out.

Anatomy of an Email

Pre-header – Continuing with the biology class analogy, your pre-header is kind of like the pancreas of your email. Most people would be hard-pressed to say why they need a pancreas, or even know where it’s located. Pre-header text is a bit like that, you may not know what it is or where it goes, but once you see how important it is, you’ll wonder how you sent emails without it. Basically it’s the first line of text in your email; some email programs, like Gmail and mobile phones, will pull it into the subject line. That means you want that first line to be something that complements your subject line, to make it even more compelling. We have a short video to help you get started with pre-headers.

Content – Once you’ve convinced your readers to open your email, you need to keep them coming back for more with great content. Try to have a mix of news, how-tos, infographics, industry news, etc. Plus something about your company of course, but don’t make your email all “buy, buy, buy!” or you’ll lose your readers. We had an informative webinar recently all about content which you can check out here.

Links – Creating an anatomically correct email won’t get you results if your readers can’t get to your website to do what you want them to do. Use links! Like veins carrying oxygen rich blood to the body, links carry your readers to where you want them to go and carry out your call-to-action.

Call-to-action – This is the action you want your readers to take when they read your email. Whether you want them to sign up for an event, download a free guide, or buy a product, you’re asking them to do something when they’ve read your email. Make your Call-to-Action (CTA) clear and easy for your readers. Using buttons in addition to text links can make your CTAs stand out in your email and make them easy to click, especially for mobile readers. Try our free button builder to create your own custom buttons.

Images – We live in a visual world and people respond to and are compelled by images. Use images throughout  your email to navigate readers through the content and complement it. Images will break up the text, making your email easier to read and more interesting to look at.

Anatomy of an email

Social Media – Social media is like the heartbeat of your email allowing it to get shared and seen by more people. Use social sharing buttons to enable your readers to share your email on their social networks and expand the reach of your business. Also include buttons for any social media sites your business is on so your readers can connect with your business there.

Unsubscribe/Postal Address – The fact of the matter is there will always be people who decide they no longer want to receive your email. As much as it may pain you to see people go, you need to offer unsubscribe options and follow the rules regarding how they’re handled.  There are laws around unsubscribing, but using an email service provider, like VerticalResponse, will manage it all for you. A postal address is also required in every email you send, as it serves as another way for someone to unsubscribe and helps give your business credibility by showing your readers where you’re located.

There you have it, some sharp tips for creating great emails, no scalpel required.

Which of these tips did you find most helpful? Did we leave any out? Share in the comments.

© 2013, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

  • Camille

    You just made me more conscious of what I put in the subject line…. it’s like the hook on the evening news….why should I stay tuned(open the email). Then the preheader should answer the “so what?” You have to sell benefits and not just features…. seems like that’s still in vogue since the many years ago I learned it in sales school. Thanks!

  • Sani

    These are some great tips. How you set up an email is just as important as the content of it. So many people skim rather than read their emails it’s important to have the important parts of your email where they will notice them.

  • Ted Grigg

    I like the way you describe the importance of the subject line and then the “pre-header.”

    Growing up in the agency business, we agonize over the over the creation of a compelling headline and subhead of a print advertisement. As a direct marketer, the most read and important sections of the letter include the Johnson box (at the upper right) that spells out a key benefit, the first line of the letter and then the PS.

    There are numerous similarities between successful direct mail and email.

    We also use short words and paragraphs concluding with the offer that is often repeated using different language in the PS and the Johnson box.

    There is a science to creating effective direct mail and emails.

    Helpful post!

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