Clients often ask me, “How can we boost the open rates on our marketing emails?” And while there are technical issues that affect delivery and open rates, the single most important reason a subscriber will open your email is because you consistently deliver well-written content that they need and care about. Therefore, you should be giving your emails the same amount of attention and planning as your print publications.
That’s why we are sharing with you the writing wisdom of Professor Emeritus Don Ranly, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the “god” of editing. We’ve compiled a few of his “tricks of the trade” to help increase the readership, retention and credibility of your email marketing copy.
You can make your emails as irresistibly interesting and informative as your print publications with Dr. Ranly’s following Seven C’s to Credibility. In fact, you should apply these quick and easy tips to every promotional piece that you write — both print and electronic.
Always check (then double-check!) your spelling, grammar and your facts. We often fail to notice our own mistakes, so it helps to find a few good proofreaders.
Find your style and stick with it. For example, journalists follow the Associated Press Stylebook. Also, be sure to use a single dictionary to ensure that you spell and hyphenate consistently. Next, maintain the same narrative voice. Switching between first and second person narratives or between active and passive voices will confuse your readers.
Run-on sentences and multisyllabic words can be overwhelming and mentally tedious. Instead, vary and pace your paragraphs with short and medium-length sentences. Never use a big, fancy word when a simple one will do. For example, why use the word “metropolis” when you could say “city?”
How many words would you cut if you were charged $1 per word? Writing concisely is even more important in email than in print. Would you believe that you have just seven seconds to spark your subscribers’ interests before they continue to sort through their inboxes? Write for skimmers by using short, compelling headlines and subheads, and use lists and bullets instead of paragraphs where possible. Lists help catch your readers’ attention, aid comprehension, increase retention and motivate the readers into action.
Take time to clearly organize your copy and use transitions that will help your article flow seamlessly. You should make sure that your most important information comes first. Don’t expect your readers to search for a call to action — make it easy for them!
Also, use graphics that enhance your copy. Don’t use an image just because it’s pretty (although do use attractive images!). Make sure the images support the ideas presented within the copy.
Did you include all of the necessary information? Always answer the “Six W’s” of journalism to make sure that important information doesn’t get left out:
- So what? The most important “W” is the “w” in “so what.” It’s also known to readers as the WIIFM, or what’s in it for me.
Strive to be creative within the limits of credibility while incorporating the other six C’s to Credibility. Most importantly, don’t bore your readers because they’ll stop reading!
- Set the scene: Use an anecdote, a real person or dialog.
- Use transitions, and let your readers know why they should care. They want to know: What’s in it for me?
- Clearly make your main point/issue.
- Complete your article with a strong ending — refer back to your anecdote or the real person introduced in the beginning of your piece.
You can add color to your article with active verbs. Avoid boring, lazy words, such as “many,” “most” and “very.” Instead, give real facts and numbers. Use examples, make comparisons and appeal to the senses.
Katey Charles Communications employs a team of copywriters, copy editors and proofreaders who can help you edit your email copy with the 7Cs in mind. Contact your account manager for details or email .
If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Don Ranly, his journalism experience and his seminars, please visit his website, ranly.com.