An Email Is Not a Website
We tend to think of websites as being an online storefront, in that people actively come to our site, whether directly, by searching, or by following a link. When a visitor comes to our website, they normally have some idea already about what they’re expecting to find. Visually, the site takes up their full browser window.
An email is a different case. Your inbox is more like your house than a storefront. Emails come to you without you taking any action. When they arrive, the visible area of the email may only be a fraction of the size of a web browser window.
In short, planning your content is essential because your campaign email is going to have a much harder time being understood than a website displaying the same content. This affects the way we design our email templates, and the way you write your content. We need to be respectful of the fact that our readers have let us invade their personal space.
Unless readers are devoted “Inbox Zero” converts, your email will be just another item in a long, long list that’s interrupting their real work.We’re asking them to pay attention to our campaign, and usually to take some kind of action. In return, we owe them an email that doesn’t take up more time than is necessary, is easy to read, and is actually useful.
Every company has their own idea of what should go into an email, and most will have a hugely inflated sense of how important their email is to the people who receive it.
Email in the Real World
Company’s have a vision of their readers sitting in their chairs, hitting “Get Mail” every few seconds just to hear the glorious sound of a new email arriving. The reality, as we all know from our own experience, is rarely as positive. To be worthy of more than a cursory glance and a swift trip to the junk mail folder, your campaign email must have immediate, obvious value. This starts with the subject line revealing who the email is from, and what value it offers the recipient.
“Information overload” is a horrible phrase, but we all know what it means. Too much information is given to us, and there’s too little time to actually use it.Websites can be content-rich and complex, but at least you can ignore sections of a website.
An email is much more invasive, coming directly to your computer and into your face. While there are no absolute rules, generally your subscribers will be happier with a shorter email than one that tries to pour a website’s worth of content into that tiny email pane.
As a company you tend to think that everything you provide or produce is important and interesting to every subscriber. Reality check! You are unlikely to treat the emails you receive with the same rapt attention you expect for the emails you send!
With those general concepts in mind, start to hash out the content for your newsletter.
While you might think that repeating content from your news feed or website is a cheat, the reality is that most newsletter subscribers will rarely visit the website unless they’re making a specific transaction. The most recent statistics show that more than 90% of internet users still have no understanding of what RSS is, let alone how to use it to keep up with websites.
Even at DeskMail, we receive a much bigger response from our email campaigns than from our news entries. So reusing materials from the website is a smart way to go, and can save a lot of time.