Well, look at that. It’s a guest post. Since we’ve been talking a lot about email marketing lately, I figured I’d bring in an award-winning graphic designer to share some thoughts with you. You know, since I’m not exactly one of those. =) So say hello to Pamela Wilson. Don’t forget to comment so we can get her to come back again. Enjoy! – Dave
If you use email to communicate information about your company or organization, your messages need to stand out in a crowded environment. To get – and hold – attention with your emails, think about them like characters in a play, with the inbox like a stage.
Make sure your email campaign’s “character” is well thought out and “acts” consistently over time, and you have a better chance of getting your message heard.
A Personality Test for your Organization
Before you begin your email campaign, let’s put your organization on an analyst’s couch and examine its personality.
- Is it an introvert? An extrovert?
- Does it use logic or emotion to present information?
- Is it an idealist? Is it practical and down-to-earth?
- Is it fun and personable? Is it no-nonsense and straightforward?
Answer these questions about your organization before you begin crafting your email campaign. If you understand the personality you want to convey, your marketing messages will have a voice that is consistent over time.
Script, Wardrobe and Make Up
Once you are clear about your organization’s basic personality traits, it’s time to move on to voice and appearance.
Your audience first glimpses your unread message in their inbox as “From” and “Subject.” The subject of your email is the first line your email character “speaks.”
Plan to spend almost as much time on crafting a compelling subject line as you do on the content of your email, because this is where the recipient decides whether or not to invest time in reading your message.
Your audience will receive your email in a wide variety of email readers, but you can count on about 50 characters, including spaces, to convey your message. Keep your subject line short and timely, and be sure it references the content of the email message.
When your email appears on the inbox stage, readers will make assumptions about it based on its appearance. Pick colors that reflect your organization, and keep the color palette limited: one or two main colors will make it more memorable than a whole rainbow.
Your choice of typeface should reflect your organization’s personality, too. Choosing one main typeface in a variety of weights – regular, bold, italic – will maintain a consistent “voice” in your messages.
Once you’ve decided on a color palette and typeface, keep them the same in every email so that your messages will be instantly recognizable even before they’re read.
The curtain has parted, your message has been opened, and the spotlight is on your email. It has only a few moments to capture and keep the attention of your readers.
Keep your message as succinct as possible. Use subheads, short sentences and short paragraphs. Break up information into bulleted lists when possible. People are busy and tend to scan email messages to extract information, so make it easy to grasp the main points you want to convey by breaking them into easily-digested chunks.
Take a Bow
- Identified a personality and voice for your messages
- Written a subject line that will grab attention as soon as it’s read
- Crafted an appearance that reflects the personality of your organization
- Formatted your message so that is easy to scan and understand
You’ve mastered the basics of developing a distinctive email “character.” Keep it up over time, and your emails will be memorable emissaries of your organization’s marketing messages.
About the author: Pamela Wilson is an award-winning graphic designer who writes the Big Brand System blog, where she helps small businesses to grow with the power of great design and marketing.