Composing a good marketing email

Every part of your email message can help or hurt your deliverability. Here’s a short guide on how to compose your message to give it the best chance of hitting the inbox.

1. From address and subject line

From name

Your recipients must know and trust who you are. Your sending domain should be a subdomain of the website domain that they know and trust. If you have multiple email streams, such as marketing and transactional, it’s good practice to use a separate subdomain for each of these. Please read this blog post on why it’s worth considering to separate marketing and transactional domains.

Not only are from (sub)domains used to track your sender reputation, which is essential for good deliverability, but the email sender is the main reasons why a recipient may open, ignore, delete or junk an email.

Subject line

Subject line optimization is an art form. And rightly so, because the subject line is second most influential factor into how your recipients treat your emails.

We have a full article on Writing A Good Subject Line, but here are the essentials:

  1. Emails are opened or not, often based on a split-second decision, so simple language works well and shorter is often better.
  2. Understand the purpose of the email. The subject line should accurately reflect that and be the reason a recipient chooses to open.
  3. Test. More than with any other element of an email campaign, A/B testing is absolutely key to getting the most out of an email campaign.

2. Preheader

The preheader is the area visible before the main content. This is often displayed for emails under the subject line before an email is opened, or on the lock screen of a mobile device.

The preheader often contains links and logos, which is meaningless in this view and a wasted opportunity.

Look at these two examples and see how the second email uses that first area of the email header to act as an extension of the subject line.

3. Above the fold content

When emails are opened or shown in a preview pane, the area immediately on display is called “above the fold” and is the prime real estate of an email. The most compelling content and primary call to action often work best in this area.

If you want your recipients to scroll, this visible section must carry on the interest generated by the subject line and be compelling enough for reading to continue.

4. Main body content

Email recipients often scan without reading, even when images are not displayed.

The purpose of the email should be clear when creating a campaign. This section of the email should be designed for that purpose, and it needs to be concise. Text-heavy content rarely works for marketing. Instead, the email should create interest through clear sections, bullet points and images.

Email content isn’t just a design and marketing consideration; it’s important for deliverability and compliance. If email content isn’t in line with recipient expectations you risk unsubscribes and complaints, but you also risk emails simply being deleted or ignored. Email filters exist to work out which emails to deliver to the inbox and which to hide away in the junk folder. Unsubscribes, complaints, deletions and emails being ignored are signals which are remembered and will be used to determine how to deliver future emails

5. Call to action

A single-purpose, clear call to action to close the email will often generate the most clicks.

The call to action should build on the subject line, pre-header, the above the fold content, and the main body of the email.

And the call to action should be the main reason you designed this email in the first place.

6. Footer

The email footer is hugely important to get right. Not only is it where you put your company details, unsubscribe and information links, and any other country/region-specific regulatory information, but the footer is often where recipients go to when there is a problem.

A well-designed, customer-centric email footer will help recipients resolve issues, whether this is simply to unsubscribe, change communication preferences, or to follow up information or privacy concerns.

It’s worth noting at this point that if transactional emails don’t need an unsubscribe link, the footer should explain the rights and communication options of recipients. Failing to provide your recipients with information and relevant choices can often result in emails simply being marked as junk and the sender being permanently suppressed.

What’s next?

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You can ask questions and provide suggestions for helpful email deliverability topics in the Q&A area Q&A – SAP Emarsys Email Deliverability.

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