Learn the secret to good email: Don’t write soul-sucking emails
A good email changes lives, while a bad email is soul-sucking. You all write emails and let’s face it, most of them are bad. So here are some tips on what to avoid – because life is too short to write a bad email.
The subject line is the most important part of an email. The first sentence (lead) and call to action (CTA) are the next key elements. Together these elements form the structure of a good email.
I admit it – I love a good email. I think a good email has personality, tone, engagement, warmth and feeling. But email gets a bad rap because most emails are crap. A bad email is life-sucking garbage with nothing to redeem; No matter the goal, fundraising, advocacy, or member engagement – bad emails suck your soul. Reading a bad email makes me sad. But a good email can make you smile, laugh, and even cry. The best emails convey an immediate tone and feel.
Good emails provide connections in subject lines, lead sentences and calls to action.
I understand that writing a good email takes time, but it doesn’t have to be overwrought and overly rote. A simple clear subject line followed by a great opening sentence can make all the difference in your open rate and engagement.
Try things, experiment, and above all, have fun! If you’re having fun while writing an email, people know it. They feel it and understand it. When we write emails for campaign workshops, we make sure they have personality. We get better engagement and open rates, and people enjoy reading emails when they have character.
Even the simplest email can be creative.
Whether we’re trying to inform people about training, talking about a podcast, or one of our weekly or monthly emails – tone and creativity are key.
Here are our tips for good subject lines:
A good subject line gets a good open rate, keeps us out of the spam folder, and gets our clients and friends talking about how creative and good our work is.
Will you start talking?
Think about your approach. What do you mean? Action, community, power, humor empathy?
- Share Value “Learn How to Change”
- Ask a question “Want to increase member engagement?”
- Tell a joke “How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?”
- Make an announcement “December 8th – Learn about the Future of Advocacy”
What is a bad email?
A bad email is self-serving, offensive, spammy, slimy, or just plain boring
Avoid bad subject lines
An email with a bad subject line is never read or if it is, it will be ignored, trashed or blocked. If it seems spammy, it probably is. Life is too short to not be creative and feel good about your work. You can tell the difference between a good writer and a bad writer by the subject line, lead sentence, and call to action.
For the subject line never say:
- for free
- There is no percentage
- Or use all caps
I usually try to answer three questions before writing an email:
What is the context?
I know it sounds simple but once you write the subject, the email will be clearer.
Who is the audience?
Knowing who you’re pitching to allows you to create focus.
What is the subject line?
Write 3 subject lines. Choosing from several options allows you to refine, edit and even test.
What is the main sentence?
A compound sentence that connects the subject line and topic with the call to action.
What is the call to action?
Be clear about what you want people to do. Make sure it anchors your email. Pro Tip – Include a simple link in your lead and in your CTA at the end.
Have a process and stick to it.
Once you have answered these questions you can enter your email. Once you write your email you can edit it and choose the best subject line that works and refine it all.
Good email is important
I understand that writing good emails can seem like a futile effort because most of what you get in your inbox is bad. So why be different? Because if you’ve gotten this far to read this blog post, you care about good writing and good creative – so do it! Once you start writing really good emails, you’ll never go back. Your open rate and engagement will increase, while opt-outs decrease – and best of all, your day and the day of anyone who reads your email will be a little brighter.
Have questions about how to write a good email? Drop us a note.