Among all the marketing tactics currently facing disruption, email has consistently produced value. Email nurturing is a fantastic strategy to engage with your database in a way that feels personal. Compared to a tweet, you are six times more likely to produce a click-through from an email campaign. And, email is effective in converting leads into customers; every $1 invested on email marketing returns $38 back.

Despite this, sending an email without first defining its purpose can actually have a negative impact on your brand.  In the same way that you can send a series of emails to nurture an audience toward an end goal – such as converting a lead into a customer – every individual email has its own nurturing process. If the email meanders, or if the body content and call-to-action differ from what the subject line presents, your audience will lose interest.

Nose-to-Tail Content Writing: using every part of the email

Every successful marketing email contains a few key content pieces that work to engage a prospect and drive your call-to-action. When writing the content itself, you need to begin at the end. Once you define the goal of the email, you can then trace the exact steps needed to get there.

1. Call-to-action (CTA)

A CTA is a button or link within your email that represents the action you want your audience to take. The CTA represents your email’s intent. Every other content piece will work to convince your audience to click, so you should define the CTA first.

With this email, do you want your audience to:

  • Read a blog post to view your brand as a thought leader?
  • Purchase a product?
  • Register for a webinar?
  • Sign up for a free trial?
  • Contact you directly?

Use the CTA to direct your audience to the requisite landing page with concise and compelling text. Make it clear what action your audience will be taking.

Ensure your CTA is obvious and appealing. Using an HTML button, rather than a linked piece of text, can increase click-throughs by 28% or more.

2. Body Copy

The purpose of email body copy is to prepare your audience for the call-to-action; you need to offer an expectation for what they will receive by clicking and converting. Above all else, strive for readability.

Email is not the place for long-form content, and the header or top sentence is crucial. Expect to hold the attention of your audience for a maximum of 30 seconds. Furthermore, formatting is different across platforms and devices – especially when mobile accounts for over 50% of email opens. Even if the purpose of your email is thought leadership, a general newsletter, or a news announcement, keep the email copy brief and direct people to your website.

3. Image

With very few exceptions, the image is a crucial part of your in-email strategy. With the body copy written, you need to choose an image that complements the text and adds context.

If at all possible, do not include stock images or unrelated visual elements. If they don’t engage your audience or drive them toward the call-to-action, the image doesn’t add value. Instead, it wastes space that could be used to place the CTA higher up.

One reason not to include an image is if you want to strip down your email template completely. Some emails benefit if it feels like the email was written and sent in a normal inbox from a specific point person in your company. In this case, you would remove the image and the CTA button, opting to use a simple text link.

4. & 5. Preview Text and Subject Line

These two content pieces go hand-in-hand, and you should develop them at the same time. Both will appear in your audience’s email inbox, responsible for driving email opens.

Based on the CTA and body copy you’ve already written, your subject line and preview text need to describe the inside of the email. Click-to-open rate suffers when the content pieces feel disconnected or if the subject line and preview text feel disingenuous. ‘Click bait’ text will dissuade your audience from opening future emails, and can cause negative perceptions of your brand.

Balance this clear and concise copy with language that inspires action – beginning with a verb, for example. To ensure full view in the inbox across platforms, keep the subject line between 40-60 characters and the preview text between 75-100 characters.

Note that when you don’t set preview text yourself, email clients will pull from the top sentence of your body copy. This can appear messy, as the body copy and preview text have different immediate goals.

Crafting an effective lead nurture email isn’t always easy. It’s imperative to be strategic when architecting each email within a series or campaign and to ensure all elements above are driving recipients to engage and ultimately convert to customers!