02 Mar

Inbox invaders

Have a think – do you know anyone without a mobile phone?
Have another think – do you know anyone without an email address?
I reckon the answer to both of those is ‘nope’.

Email arrived in the mid 90s and hasn’t gone anywhere since. In fact, it ain’t going anywhere at all. Today, around 2.5 billion people use email – that’s a third of the planet’s population.

If you’re going to reach people, email is not a bad way to do it. For starters, people check their emails several times a day, and you’ll be in the mix with business emails and personal ones from family and friends (which is why personalised subject lines work well, but more on that in a bit).
Email is also relatively inexpensive (A Mailchimp subscription is £10 – £15 per month), costing next to nothing per message. You can reach people for a fraction of what you’d spend on traditional channels and it’s targeted (you can segment your audience) – you only send to exactly who you want; no wastage.
People also have to do something with an email – there’s always a what next: reply, forward, click through, sign up (hopefully not delete). Email lends itself to a response to a CTA.
And using email software means you can easily track results; who/how many opened your email, how many clicked through on links/CTAs, how many unsubscribed. There’s no guess work.

Right, enough blurb – I’ll share with you some things that seem to work, in terms of making your email campaigns more effective. This is not an exhaustive list and you may disagree with some items, or you may have things you wish to add. If so, please let me know.

So, without further ado, here are some pointers:

  • Personalised subject lines – using someone’s name in a subject line can increase open rates by up to 26%.
  • Subject lines that allude to video e.g ‘This Year’s Annual Ball Video, Below’. Depending on which source you refer to, using ‘video’ in the subject line increases open rates by 13-19%.
  • Subject lines that tell recipients what action to take e.g ‘Sign Up Today’. These leave the recipient under no illusion as to what’s expected of them and what info the email might contain.
  • A good pre-header that aligns with the subject line – an example from my recent work being;
    Subject line: Spring into action and enter our raffle
    Pre-header: What would you do with £3,000?
  • Email copy that aligns with the subject line. This shouldn’t be too hard. In the example above, the email copy should now clearly be about the spring raffle. Don’t deviate onto other events/products/services.
  • Email copy no longer than 300 words. Even that is quite long. Any longer and people simply won’t read it. Consider this if you’re adding a story, case study, or product information into your email.
  • Use bullet-pointed lists in your email, to break things up. People want to scan something quickly and get the gist. In fact, over 90% of people check their emails on their phone, in a rush, distracted by everything around them.
  • One font. There’s nothing worse than an email written, clumsily, in different fonts and different colours. It’s a real turn off and will lead to an instant delete.
    If you can’t emphasise points simply through your copy, then get someone else to do it.
  • Audience segmentation. Break your audiences down into lists and target them based on specific things, like geographic location, purchase/donation history, whether they’re a warm, cold, or hot lead. This way you can target smaller groups more directly.
  • One email = one marketing message. The number of organisations I’ve worked with who, after giving the one marketing message, say ‘can we just add this?’
    Nooooo. Trying to ask too many things in the one email just confuses the recipient (which action do they take first?) and one message dilutes the other.
  • Aaaaand finally… use a strong call to action (CTA); ‘sign up now’, ‘volunteer today’, ‘please donate’, or even ‘buy now’.


As I said, this isn’t an exhaustive list, so feel free to let me know what I’ve missed out – I’m always learning, so I’d be interested to know.
That’s all for now – happy emailing!


Screenshot 2021-03-02 at 13.03.19

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