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December 9, 2009

How to write emails that get results

This week I received at least 500 emails offering me great discounts on Viagra and just as many messages from the son in law of the late bank president of Nigeria, offering me millions of dollars. How many cases of Viagra do you think I ordered? and how many billions of dollars have I had transferred into my offshore account? Zero, zilch, zip, none!

I continue to be amazed by the number of people, who still believe they will sell loads of products/services if they send unsolicited emails to millions of email addresses.

It is unfortunate that because of a few people who have abused the email system, genuine business messages are now NOT being delivered. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have had to take drastic action and implement rigid spam filters and many people have set up rules in their email software which discard messages that contain certain words, phrases, subjects etc.

Getting Your Messages Delivered, Opened & Read

So even before you start thinking about writing an email message, you need to be sure it gets delivered. Your chances of having your email arrive, be opened and read greatly increase if you:

  1. Personalise your email, ie. include the person’s name in the subject line as well as the body of the message.
  2. Only send messages to people you know and who know you. (We will cover creating your mailing list next time.)
  3. Avoid using words such as “free”, “make money”, “extra income”, “lose weight”, “satisfaction guaranteed”, “IMPORTANT”
  4. Do not send attachments
  5. Send text messages rather than HTML emails
  6. Do not use ALL CAPS
  7. Ensure your emails have a meaningful subject that relates to your message

Creating Compelling Messages

So you’ve had your message delivered and even opened. Congratulations you are half way there! Let’s now look at some points to ensure your message is read and action is taken:

  1. For a good-looking email, format your message to 65 characters or less per line. Use a hard return (that means hit the ‘Enter’ key when you get to 65 characters). Use a fixed width font, like Courier New.
  2. Personalize, personalize, personalize. People love seeing their name and business name in print. Use it in the subject line and in the body.
  3. Write just like you talk. Use plain, easy to understanding English. Be friendly and personable in your writing.
  4. Get to the point right away. Your first two sentences should include a summary of the whole email.
  5. Put passion into your email. Let your customer know you are excited about the offer.
  6. Write to one person. Think of your customer and pretend like you are talking only to him/her.
  7. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and simple.
  8. Use subheadings. Think of them as mini headlines. These are great for breaking up large bodies of text.
  9. Use action verbs whenever possible.
  10. Create urgency. Let recipients know the issue is time sensitive.
  11. Encourage people to forward your message onto others
  12. Explain who you are and how readers can contact you.
  13. Do a spell check and grammar check
  14. Avoid URLs (website addresses) that wrap. Ensure links are short, so that they do not stretch over 2 lines. If you can’t control the length of the URL, tell the readers how to put it together in their web browser.
  15. Use only ASCII characters. Many email readers can’t display text other than the standard set of ASCII characters (roughly equal to what you see on your keyboard)
  16. Always offer an option to unsubscribe.
  17. Include a PS. at the end of the email. Use it to effectively highlight a reminder or a point of interest.

The best ways and times to put email to work

  1. Acquire new customers at incredibly low costs
  2. New product announcements
  3. Holiday season and event specials
  4. Stay in touch and on customer’s mind
  5. Endorse and cross sell other products

Next time we will cover ways to collect email addresses and how to manage your email list.


Ivana Katz of Websites 4 Small Business makes it easy for you to get your business on the internet. If you’re looking for a professional and affordable website designer, visit www.web4business.com.au and download a free website plan.

One Response to “How to write emails that get results

    avatar Ravi Kant says:

    Nice tips about e-mail marketing.

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