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The anatomy of an effective email message
The anatomy of an email is determined by 3 main parts:
- The address fold
- The Johnson Box
- The body of the email
Every one of these 3 items will have a major impact on the success of your email campaign. You need to pay special attention to each one of them to achieve conversion effectiveness.
1. The address fold
The address fold holds 4 main components:
- The from address
- The from name
- The reply address
- The subject line
Each of these 4 components have a particular impact on the success of your email marketing campaign.
The from address
- The from address is a brand builder.
- Using the same from address in every campaign will have an impact on the reputation of your sender IP. People will have the ability to white or black list you according to the from address and IP.
- Using a personalized from address can have a positive impact on how people perceive your brand.
The from name
- The from name is even more of a brand builder. It mostly carries the name of the company.
- If possible, personalize the from name as if it is coming from a real person. This will have a positive impact on the communication.
The reply address
- Say no to no-reply! It is important to use a valid reply address instead of the well-known no-reply one. People can react via your email message (and you certainly do not want to lose that).
- In the case of a malfunctioning of, e.g. the unsubscribe mechanism, having a reply address is crucial. It is common practice to ask for an unsubscribe via a simple reply. A no-reply function will only motivate the receiver to hit the spam button. This is an important factor on measuring the reputation of your IP.
The subject line
- The subject line is the most important component of your address fold.
- Include a clear call to action in your subject line.
- Using values, discounts, urgency or exclusive deals will increase the effectiveness of your subject line.
- Try to limit the number of characters to a maximum of 50, including spaces.
Some email clients won’t show more than that and on some mobiles this is a maximum in general.
- Consider the subject line as a Twitter post. It has to be short, effective and teasing.
- The subject line is what makes you open the email and start reading it.
Measuring the effectiveness of the address fold.
To measure the effectiveness of your address fold you will have to look at the unique opened ratio of your email marketing campaign. The easiest way is to take the number of sent emails, substract the bounces, and finally measure the number of opened emails on the remaining number of emails.
2. The Johnson box
The Johnson box is the aria that is exposed when opening your email and looking at the preview pane. This zone will therefore determine if people will keep on reading your email message.
- Be aware of the 5-30 rule. You only have 5 seconds to convince your reader to keep reading your email 30 seconds longer. All this takes place in the Johnson box.
- The Johnson box must therefore include a clear call-to-action. Do I have to read, click, fill in a survey, buy or register for an event?
- Be sure to include several links in your Johnson box.
- If possible, start your message with a first name personalization.
- Be sure not to use an image only banner, or people will only see a red cross of images disabled in it.
- Therefore, always include text links in your Johnson box.
- Using a top link referring to an online version of your email is essential. This feature will not only help in case of technical difficulties, several studies have shown that mobile users prefer reading their emails in a browser.
- In newsletters, it is also advised to include bookmarks in the Johnson box. These bookmarks are text links referring to the actual content of the email. They are also considered to give you an instant impression of the exact content of the email.
Measuring the effectiveness of the Johnson box.
The Johnson box is typically one of the most difficult areas to measure. Measuring the effectiveness of your Johnson box will require some analytical insights on your data. The closest you can get in measuring the effectiveness of the Johnson box is to look to the opened ratio and to look to the actual click-through ratio of the email. In addition, the click-through within this area is to be taken into account. If your opened ratio is significantly higher than your click-through ratio, this could indicate that your Johnson box was not clear enough and people were not motivated to go through the actual body of the email, or the actual content of the email was not relevant enough.
3. The body of the email
The email body is certainly the most important element of your email campaign. It is this space that will determine the final effectives of your campaign. The email body is all about relevance - bringing the right message to the right person at the right moment and in the right tone of voice.
- Remember the 5-30 rule. You now have 30 seconds to convince people to take action and to generate the click.
- The only purpose of the email body is to generate a click; the actual message has to be written on a landing page.
- Make your body copy scannable by using white spaces and using bold and italic to emphasis relevant items.
- The body message should fulfill the promise you made in your Johnson box.
- Include several links in your email body.
- When using links, try not to use the “read more” principle, but include a real call to action in that link.
- Images should only be used with moderation and only if they give added value to the content
- Your email body content should be readable and make sense even with disabled images.
- Always include a perfectly functioning unsubscribe link and respect that unsubscribe.
- Write your copy in paragraphs.
Measuring the effectiveness of email body.
The effectiveness of the email body is measured by the actual unique click-through. Take the number of unique openings on your message and compare this with the unique click-through of the message. If the gap between unique opened and unique click-through is too high, your message was not relevant enough or the structure/programming went wrong.