Writing effective emails: halve the words

Over at the Marketing Experiments blog, there is an interesting case-study of a A/B tested email marketing campaign that demonstrates that reducing the number of words in your email can lead to a significant increase in the number of “clickthroughs” (the people who answer your call to action).

Brad Bortone makes the case that email marketers often “double sell” their product or service, filling their email with unnecessary information that can drown out the call to action – and then confusing people who do click through to their landing page.

(Remember, your successful email campaign should have a prominent call to action, and lead your subscriber to a specially targeted “landing page” or mini-campaign site.)

Here’s the introduction:

Often, marketers confuse the purpose of an email message with that of a landing page. Our research shows that selling your product twice – in an email and then the landing page – disrupts the reader’s thought sequence and could possibly hinder conversion.

By focusing an email on a single goal — such as inviting recipients to an event or location — you can see whether there are distracting elements driving recipients away from the desired action.

Many marketers lose connection with their audience by overstating value, or simply burying it in a wash of information and unnecessary language. Though all correspondence should state value before a call-to-action, it’s important to remember the goal of an email – a clickthrough – and use the copy as the catalyst for further discussion, rather than as an impromptu landing page.

The good thing about this case-study is that it goes through the numbers – showing that the shorter email achieved better results than a longer one. It spells out the great value in A/B split testing and shows how small changes can lead to improvements.

For unions thinking about their email campaigns, it shows the principles I talk about in my Introduction to Email Campaigning for Unions e-book: have a clear goal for your campaign, a prominent call to action, keeping it short, don’t use jargon, and link it to your campaign website with quality analytics.

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