VIEWS: 118 PAGES: 27 POSTED ON: 11/2/2010
A best practices guide to email writing and sending
EMAIL ISN’T DEAD: YOU JUST HAVE TO BE SMARTER ABOUT HOW YOU USE IT Lauren Miller| Director of Email Programs, Blue State Digital | What can email do for you? Enhance what you’re doing oﬄine Quick, cost eﬀecGve communicaGons to supporters Rapid response to breaking news AcGvate and empower your members Raise money 2 A Few Key Principles Email is part of a larger communicaGons strategy It’s about telling a story over Gme Plan ahead Email is results driven 3 OK, ENOUGH TALK. HOW DO I WRITE AN EMAIL?! Basic Structure of an Email 1st Sentence: AVenGon Grabber Try to keep it to one sentence ‐‐ one line, if possible Basic Structure of an Email 2nd Sentence/Paragraph: Summary of why you’re sending the email Don’t include too many details, facts, quotes, etc ‐‐ that’s what the rest of the email is for Basic Structure of an Email 3rd‐4th Paragraph: Take AcGon Explain what you want people to do LINK (before the fold) Basic Structure of an Email Links Links should be stand‐alone links (not as part of another paragraph) Should you use hyperlink text or wriUen‐out url’s? It depends. Use hyperlinked text when you’re using sloppy looking links Don’t just have picture links Basic Structure of an Email A\er the First Link (if needed) 2‐4 paragraphs with more background informa[on, blockquotes, details, etc. Another explana[on of why it’s so important for people to take ac[on, and another link. Repeat if necessary. SO HOW OFTEN CAN I SEND THESE AWESOME EMAILS?! Well, it depends…. How o]en do you have something urgent, important and interes[ng to say? Quarterly Monthly Weekly Daily TYPICAL Almost Probably too certainly too much liUle Credit: Idealware 11 10 TIPS FOR BETTER EMAILS! 1. Keep It Short People don’t want to read a long essay. They’re skimming what you write. 2. Think about your subject line It’s the most important part of your email. Be concise (5‐7 words) Grab aUen[on, but don’t cry wolf Be crea[ve Mix it up Good Subject Lines Reality 2, Bush 0 (John Kerry) I agree with George W. Bush (Howard Dean) Did you get my email? (MoveOn.org) I have a confession to make (Courage Campaign) Spill baby spill (Brave New Founda[on) Pathe[c and Puny (Change Congress Bad Subject Lines The McCain Update (John McCain) Tell your Senators to vote NO on S. 2191 (Eagle Forum) Urgent FEC Deadline (Mitch McConnell) Maryland GOP Calls for end to new poll tax for absentee ballot voters (Maryland GOP) 3. Keep it conversaGonal How do you sound when you write an email to coworkers? Snarky is ok. A formal leUer isn’t. Have voices, personali[es in your emails. It keeps things from gegng stale. 4. Never send an email without an acGon… All people can do is unsubscribe. Sign a pe[[on Call Congress Write a leUer Make a dona[on Tell a friend Give us your feedback Watch a video AUend an event 4. Never send an email without an acGon… …But try not to have more than one acGon per email. Don’t confuse people. Mul[ple ac[ons/links overwhelm people Splits the returns of your ac[on BeUer solu[on: Daisy‐chain your ac[ons Excep[on: PS Message 5. Ask people what they want Surveys are good for you and your list Find out who your audience is, what they’re interested in Solicit new ideas without hiring a new staﬀ member Make your supporters feel like they’re a part of the team 6. Treat new supporters diﬀerently Make a good ﬁrst impression. Send an introduc[on/auto‐response email, describing the group/org and what they can do Trying to raise money? Don’t ask immediately – but don’t wait too long to ask 7. Use images sparingly & avoid fancy formahng Don’t use images just for the sake of using images. Simple buUons that clearly explain the ac[on can help ac[on rates Compelling images can help grab aUen[on Don’t hold up your email just for an image Don’t make your whole email an image 7. Use images sparingly & avoid fancy formahng Avoid Fancy Formahng You are not wri[ng direct mail Fancy formagng distracts from links 8. Timing is everything SomeGmes it’s beVer to be the ﬁrst than be the best General wisdom: Tuesday – Thursday late morning send best More important: Gegng an email out when news breaks, something happens If you’re wai[ng 3 days for policy experts to fact‐check your brilliant email, you’re too late. 9. Checklist Your Emails One bad mistake will ruin your otherwise excellent email Ask someone who didn’t write it to proofread it Ask someone to look at a test message to read every sentence, click every link, and take every ac[on. 10. TesGng and SegmenGng Figure out what works best for your own list Test: Segment: • Sender: name/format • Donors/non‐donors • Subject lines: long/short, punchy, snarky, • Highest previous contribu[on ques[ons, current events themed, “invite” or “video” • Geography (including stories) • Time of day (tough to implement) • Past ac[ons • Images: yes/no, upper right vs. across, • Signup date header or no header, simple vs. ar[s[c, colors, • Whatever info you’ve got! language • Email length: full email vs. up to 1st link • Link style: hyperlinked text vs. urls • Landing pages THANK YOU. QUESTIONS?
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