How to make an email great from the ground up

Start with a sturdy foundation

When it’s time to make an email — especially an email newsletter — people often dive right into the content. But what if you took a more thoughtful, strategic approach?

How to Make an Email

Instead of:

Content → Subject Line

What if you tried:

Goal → Subject Line → Outline → Content

What if you did? Give it a shot and see what happens!

1. In order to make an email, first define your goal.

Design every single email, whether it’s an autoresponder or a newsletter, to meet a specific, measurable goal that maps to your bigger-picture goals as a business.

So, let’s say that your business or organization wants to:

  • double its sales of gluten-free cookies this year, or
  • book 20 new portrait clients, or
  • surpass last year’s attendance at your annual conference, or
  • raise $75,000 at your charity auction, or
  • [insert your primary objective here].

Question: What email marketing goals might support that big-picture goal?

For example, you might set email marketing goals around how many readers:

  • click through to your gluten-free cookie product pages, or
  • view the portrait section of your online photography gallery, or
  • share your save-the-date email on social media, or
  • click through to a blog post about a child who will benefit from your fundraiser, or
  • [insert your own brilliant marketing email goal here].

All of these things get your readers — and, if you’re lucky, their friends — thinking about what you have to offer.

Write down the primary marketing goal before you make an email. The goal for each successive email can be slightly different, as long as each email somehow supports your big-picture goal.

2. Write a great email subject line.

This may be a radical idea, but why not try writing the subject line before you write the email? You’ll be crystal-clear on the purpose of the email when you sit down to write it.

You have your primary goal for the email in mind. Now tell your readers what they’ll learn. Maybe even how they’ll feel, or what they’ll want to do.

Make it sound irresistible (but not too-good-to-be-true). AVOID MAKING IT TOO EXCITING IN AN ALL-CAPS-AND-EMPTY-PROMISES-KINDA-WAY!!!!!!!

Check out these great tips for writing marketing email subject lines.

3. Draft an outline.

With the primary goal of your marketing email top of mind, brainstorm some potential content that could have the desired effect. When you make an email content planning is critical.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you want your readers to learn, feel, or do?
  • What kind of content have they responded to in the past? Check your email stats.
  • How might you improve your readers’ day?
  • How can you accomplish your goal as simply as possible?

If you’re coming up short on ideas, check out 33 Email Newsletter Topics You Can Use Right Now.

4. Create a lovely, goal-oriented marketing email.

You have a goal for your email, a solid subject line, and a content outline. Now it’s time to fill in the blanks. Here are a few tips:

Knowledge to keep

After you send your email, use your email analytics — and perhaps your web analytics — to see whether you accomplished your primary goal.

Consider whether it makes sense to create a follow-up email for people either did (or did not) take the desired action. You could create a new list for these people and provide more targeted content to help you reach your big-picture goal.

The bottom line: Be intentional about setting goals for every single email you send. Continue to experiment with — and measure — what works best for your specific audience. Email marketing should be iterative, so make an email right now and engage with your customers!

Put your content to work with GoDaddy Email Marketing. Create a stunning newsletter today.

Image by: Max and Dee Flickr via Compfight cc

Emma Wilhelm
Emma Wilhelm loves punchy words and uphill battles. She’s a proud member of the GoDaddy GoCentral team. When she’s offline, she relishes long runs, baked goods and dance parties with her kids. Follow her on Twitter at @emmasota.