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Writing Effective Emails: What I Learned In The Newsroom

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As I ambled through the double doors of my college newsroom for the first time, bespectacled and full of misplaced enthusiasm, I considered it to be the first in a long line of inevitable professional victories. Surely this is where the path to a Pulitzer began - in a work space half the size of a milk carton, fact-checking a few hundred words about a space heater that caught fire in a liquor store.

The afternoon of my second day, my editor poked her head up over the sea of cubicle walls and, like a weather siren alerting a surrounding town to an impending tornado, squawked down at me: "Hey, want to know what's so great about the word 'accommodate?' It can accommodate TWO 'm's!'"

In addition to an uncanny ability to never again misspell the word accommodate, the newsroom bestowed upon me many of life's greatest lessons - the importance of being your own advocate, the need to work both smart and fast and, perhaps most importantly, if you fall asleep at your desk on top of a newspaper, it could easily take 48 hours for the words "Spring Hoops Preview" to fade from the left side of your face.

As a digital marketer, I'm able to apply at least two of those hard-learned lessons to my e-mail marketing tasks, along with a few others:

People can't know what you don't tell them.

Write as if your reader is clueless about your subject matter. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, it is unwise to assume your audience knows what makes your company worthy of their business. Empower your readers to make smart buying decisions by simplifying who you are and why your offerings will make their life better. And if you're not convinced that your email marketing efforts directly impact the buying cycle of your readers, think again. According to the Direct Marketing Association, the ROI for email marketing is more than $40 per dollar spent.

You need to go mobile. Period.

In the same way the print media industry shifted their focus to digital, email marketers are shifting their email campaign efforts toward responsive strategies and complimenting responsive design. Driving the best possible outcome from your campaigns requires putting your brand in front of your audience where they're most likely to engage. 41% of email opens now happen on mobile devices, beating out desktop and webmail clients by a very large margin. (CampaignMonitor)

Your subject line is your headline.

I don't know how many hours I spent tossing a tennis ball up against wall waiting for the perfectly-penned headline to pop into my head. Writing subject lines for your email campaigns merits the same level of brainstorming - especially when it comes to promoting special offers. Adding discount or time-sensitive sale information is proven to boost your open rates - on average, subscribers read 14% of messages promising percentage-based savings in the subject line. (ReturnPath)

Cross your t's and dot your i's.

Do yourself a favor and don't misspell the word 'accommodate.' Trust me. In fact, don't misspell any words. Double and triple check your spelling, grammar and sentence structure. My editor never forgave my spelling error and your audience can be equally as critical. Send test e-mails and make sure to view those test e-mails on different browsers and e-mail clients. Include QA and testing time in all of your e-mail marketing projects.

Once you're rid of your mistakes, be sure your message has all the required moving parts to maximize your first impression with prospects - including obvious opportunities to share your message via social channels. Econsultancy estimates that emails that include options for social sharing and social CTAs generate 30% more click-throughs than those without it.

Do you need help with your email marketing? Check out our email marketing page or leave a comment below.

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