The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Awesome Marketing Emails

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Pamela Vaughan
Pamela Vaughan



Email marketing can be a very powerful lever for lead generation within your arsenal of inbound marketing tools. While I think most of us can agree that email is still alive and thriving, there are still many marketers that struggle to leverage it effectively for lead gen. So, why not break it down?

In this post, we'll carefully dissect the anatomy of an effective, optimized marketing email. Let's take a look at one of HubSpot's recent email sends as an example...

13-Part Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

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1. A Clear, Concise, and Attention-Grabbing Subject Line: Before your email subscribers even read your email, the first thing they'll see if the email's subject line. Likely, your email is sitting in your prospects' inboxes alongside a ton of other emails, many of which will be from other vendors and companies just like you. Therefore, it's very important that you make it stand out with clear, eye-catching subject line. Keep it brief, but use your space wisely, and try to describe the offer you're giving them within the email as clearly and concisely as possible. Avoid trigger words that can easily land you in senders' SPAM box.

2. A Real, Live, Human Sender: In communication between real people, the "From" address is someone's name. Experiment with how you customize your email's sender name, and consider making it come from a real, living, breathing member of your marketing team to make your email messages more personal. Try a test to determine which format of your sender name contributes to the best open rate (e.g. First Name Last Name vs. First Name Last Name, Company Name vs. Company Name).

3. Obvious Branding Elements: There shouldn't be any question to your subscribers about where your email is coming from. Create and utilize an email template with consisting branding elements. Include your logo! Use your company's branding colors. Omitting branding elements suggests a lack of professionalism and security.

4. Personalization: While research shows that one third of marketers believe that personalized marketing campaigns are highly effective, the majority of marketers aren't including any personalization elements in their campaigns. Email marketing (especially lead nurturing) offers a great opportunity to leverage the power of personalization. You can use data about your database to segment them into groups and send them more personalized content offers based on their behavior and wants/needs. At the very least, use your data to personalize the greeting in your email. Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier, make your email come from a real person within your organization. Consider including their picture and signing off the email with their nickname.

5. Offer Context: Before you give your email recipients the opportunity to access your offer, set the stage for why what you're offering is valuable to them. Keep it brief, use compelling language, and consider incorporating statistics to emphasize importance. Add a link or two for your offer within this section, too.

6. Obvious & Focused Call-to-Action (CTA): Include a prominent CTA for your offer. Make your CTA's text specific about what action the reader must take to receive the offer (in this example, "Download") and create a sense of urgency (e.g. "Now," "Today," etc.). Avoid vague language like "Submit," and try to tie the CTA to the offer itself (e.g. for a live webinar, you must say "Register For the Webinar Now" or "Reserve Your Seat Today").

7. Explanation/Value of Offer: Clearly highlight what email recipients will get out of downloading your ebook or registering for your webinar. Use bullet points to break up the text and emphasize key takeaways. Demonstrate the value of the offer.

8. Social Sharing Buttons/Links: Include social sharing links on every email you send to further expand the reach of your email content. If readers find the content within your email valuable and feel compelled to share it with their social media connections, now they can easily do so! This will help you reach a wider range of potential leads with very little effort.

9. Image: Break up text with a professional-looking image. Try matching this image with the content of your offer. So, if you're offering an ebook, include a picture of the cover page. If you're offering a webinar, include a screenshot of the cover slide in your presentation.

10. Additional Product-Based Offer: Maybe some of your email subscribers are ready for a more product-focused offer like a free trial of your product or a personal consultation. Use the real estate in your P.S. as an opportunity to tie your main content offer to a more middle-of-the funnel offer.

11. Social Media Follow Buttons/Links: Grow your social media reach by giving recipients opportunities to subscribe to your updates in social media, too. Add social media follow buttons to encourage subscribers to follow you on Twitter, 'Like' your Facebook page, subscribe to your YouTube channel, or follow your company updates on LinkedIn.

12. Link to Privacy Policy: As the web evolved into an even more social and public platform, concerns about privacy continue to get raised. Give your email subscribers peace of mind and a sense of security by including a link to your company's privacy policy.

13. Unsubscribe Link: ALWAYS include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email marketing messages. Neglecting to do so will put you in violation of CAN-SPAM regulations, cost you quite a bit of your valuable marketing budget, and severely damage your company's credibility.

How do your email marketing messages stand today? Are they missing any of these critical elements for success?

Download the Science of Email Marketing 2014 report.

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