Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ten email tips

Keep it really short. Aim for less than 150 words.

Focus on the subject and first lines– which are the only things people will see if they are using Outlook. This is often where emails get pruned.

Incorporate email collection into everything you do – petitions, events, anything you can think of. Building a good email database is difficult – but the payoffs are great.

Ask people to do you a favour. People read their emails because they are interested in what you’re doing. They will actually do you a favour without incentives.

Don’t create a ‘newsletter’ that’s just a bunch of stuff. Have a single purpose in each email that you’re trying to drive people to do – such as signing friends up to a petition.

Use a good email programme to track who opens your emails and what they click. You can then send follow ups to your most enthusiastic supporters.

Test your emails before sending them – what looks nice on screen can look horrible in somebody’s Gmail or on their Blackberry.

Pictures aren’t always necessary. But a good photo in the right place potentially serves the same function as in a newspaper, that is to sum up the story in an emotional and human way.

Relentlessly interrogate whether your email is relevant to your audience. It might be a serious, long email. But if it’s relevant people will read it.

Never, ever spam people. At best you’ll drive away people who you’ve carefully recruited. At worst you’re creating a nasty reputational (and possibly legal) problem for yourself.

Credit due to Blue State Digital’s guide, numerous emails on the E-Campaigning Forum and MailChimp’s guides. Also inspired by great emails by Avaaz, Amnesty, Obama and advice from my colleagues on the Lib Dem Hearts & Minds sub group of the Technology Board.

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