Writing Effective Emails
Better Practices and NBTS Guidelines for Maximum Impact
Life is fast-
As number of emails and other
“distractions” (Facebook, Twitter,
FourSquare, text messages, etc.)
…attention span decreases
Our Job as Email Marketers
• To make each email as relevant and interesting
as possible to the recipient.
• Constituents pleased they are receiving
information they requested.
• Higher open, click-through, action rates.
• NBTS is not regarded as a spammer.
A Note About Recipients
• One of the most important decisions you can
make in preparing a blast email is who the
recipients will be.
• Sending to people truly interested in the
content you are providing is more important
than any other best practice in this
• Increased open, click-through, action rates.
Decreased unsubscribe rates.
• Keeps people interested, less email list churn.
Email “Consumption” Stages
Sender Subject Preview Above Entire
Name Line Pane The Fold Email
• The From Line is the first thing people read, and
is an important factor in whether or not the email
• Helps build recognition and trust.
• As little as 20 characters will display in the From
– Harriet Patterson, National Brain Tumor Society
– National Brain Tumor Society
Sender Name - Guidelines
• For consistency, emails should be from “National
Brain Tumor Society” or the event name.
• Individual names and titles can be included in the
• From email addresses should also stay
consistent. Suddenly changing the from address
can land you in spam.
• For the first in a series of emails, ask the
recipient to add the address to their address book
to ensure delivery to the inbox.
• Be specific, not misleading.
• Provide a sense of urgency.
• Speak to their needs and interests.
• Put the most important information first.
• These are general guidelines - Test! Test!
Test! What types of subject result in the
greatest click-through or action rate?
Subject Line - Guidelines
• Do not repeat “From” name in subject line.
• Do not use all caps or exclamation points.
• Because of differing character limits in email
clients, 40-50 characters is recommended,
and 60 characters is the limit.
• First word capitalization only.
• More than 70% of email users report utilizing the
• The preview pane will show the top 2 – 4 inches
of the message, often with images blocked.
• Put the most important content, the value
proposition, or the action item in the first few lines
of the email.
• The first few lines should draw the person in and
encourage them to continue skimming in the
preview pane or to open the message.
Above the Fold
• Similar to preview pane concepts.
• Email readers tend to focus on content
closest to the top, or sometimes the entire
first screen of text.
• Again, make sure the most important content
and links are near the top of the email.
Writing for Email
• Speak conversational, not corporate.
• Short sentences.
• Get to the point.
• No flowery language needed.
• Paragraphs should be no longer than five
• Only 19% of emails are actually read, the rest
• Put the most important content in
components of the emails that can be easily
• Headlines get the most attention followed by
bulleted or numbered lists.
Calls to Action
• One call to action
• Bring the horse to water – Tell them what
they should do, why they should do it, and
how to take the next step.
• Use colorful buttons and multiple links.
• Make the email shareable – Tell-A-Friend
tool, IS/Comm to look into other tools.
Other Better Practices
• Length – most content above the fold, do not
make readers scroll down more than once.
– Anything that needs lots of description or text should
live on your website, not in the email.
• Timing – studies have shown that Tuesday at 11
AM best sending time, followed by Wednesday at
• First in email series - Ask users to add your email
address to their address book (to avoid spam
– Do not say “click here”
– Set links to open in new window
– Include link title
– Make sure they work when testing email
• Text version
– End of line/delete
– Remove http:// except for Tell-A-Friend, Unsubscribe or
view on web links
• Use Dear First Name/Friend for non-
• If an email is going to only ONE time zone,
the ideal time to send is between 11 AM and
1 PM in that time zone.
• If an email is going to multiple time zones, it
should be sent between 12 PM and 3 PM ET.
NBTS Style Guide
• Dates: June 25 not June 25th
• Times: 5 PM, 5 – 7 PM, or 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
• Serial commas: apples, oranges, and bananas
• Use “the” before NBTS only in the middle of a
• One space only between sentences
• “website” not “Web site”
Email Proofing and Coding
• Emails should be submitted to Comm (Anne
and Lisa) three days or more prior to send
date – again not on a Friday.
• Email will then be coded by IS
– Why does an email need to be coded?