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How to Write an Email Best practices for messages that generate actions, turn out attendees, and recruit volunteers. By Debbie Chong, Nicole Ghio, Cara.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Write an Email Best practices for messages that generate actions, turn out attendees, and recruit volunteers. By Debbie Chong, Nicole Ghio, Cara."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Write an Email Best practices for messages that generate actions, turn out attendees, and recruit volunteers. By Debbie Chong, Nicole Ghio, Cara Longpre, and Kelly Gould October 2009

2 Subject This is the first (and maybe the only) part of the email that people see. A short and catchy subject line will entice readers to open the email to learn more and take action.

3 Subject Line Best Practices Work on the subject line first, not as an afterthought. Spend at least 8 minutes just on the subject. Limit the subject to no more than 7 words. Front-load the action: Tell Governor ____ to ____ When appropriate, personalize the subject line.

4 Envelope Along with the subject line, recipients can see the senders name and email address before opening the email. You should send messages from people, not from chapters. From: Carl Pope, Sierra Club

5 Envelope Best Practices Format the senders name First Last, Sierra Club. Adding the chapter may lengthen the sender name so it will not all display. Use the same sender on your emails so people become familiar with the name. Always use an email address. Never an address. Do not use sender names and email addresses that do not match.

6 Good example: subject and envelope

7 Bad example: subject and envelope

8 The Message Timely Urgent Clear impact Use everyday language Part of a narrative Tell a story Follow-up and close the loop

9 Structuring The Message Only put one ask in the message. Additional asks or options will depress your response. Keep the message short. 200-400 words. Put the ask high in the email. You should tell people what you want them to do by the 2 nd paragraph or 4 th sentence. Link to the ask more than once.

10 Writing Write to your audience – people dont read emails, they scan them. Avoid bill numbers and abbreviations unless they are widely known, like EPA, and even then write out the full name the first time: i.e. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Use short paragraphs of 3 sentences max. Bold key sentences to break up the text. The reader should be able to understand the email just by reading the bolded parts. No all caps, no italics unless it is a title, and no underlines unless it is a link.

11 Good example: structure and message

12 Text Boxes A text box will dramatically increase the number of people who click on your ask and take action. Boil the ask down to 1 short sentence or phrase and include it in the box. Include an action button: i.e. RSVP, Take Action, Sign Up, etc. You can also include an image. Be sure to include alt tags on any images you include in your message. An alt tag is the text that shows up when you hover your mouse over an image.

13 Good example: text box

14 Links Dont link entire paragraphs or only one word. At least one link should be visible in the top portion of the message. The ask should be linked to about 3 times in the email. Links for more information should be footnotes. If you are making big statements, it is always good to include footnotes. If there absolutely must be a second ask in the email, introduce and link to it in the P.S. below the senders signature.

15 Good example: links

16 Good example: footnotes and second asks

17 Bad example: links The only clickable link was too far down the page

18 Images Add an image to your emails that conveys the spirit of the issue. Resize images before adding them to your email. Be sure to include the image size in the image tag – if people have images turned off, this will prevent your entire message from being blocked. Make sure you have permission to use the image. Choose appropriate alt-text for your images that explains what they are or encourages readers to take action. This text will be visible when readers move the pointer over the image. Make the images links to the action.

19 Bad example: image alt-text The alt-text was from a previous email about polar bears.

20 The Icing Start the email by personalizing it with the recipients name. Dear Debbie, Sign the email from the email sender. Include a robust tell a friend in the P.S. You can use a Tell-A- Friend link or ask people to forward the message.

21 Good example: tell-a-friend

22 Before You Send Have at least one other person read the email. A friend who is not familiar with the issue is a good choice. He or she should be able to understand it. If you are loading the message into Convio, have 2 people review for spelling, grammar, broken links, image alt-text and display problems. Check how the email looks in as many email clients and programs as you can. Outlook, AOL, Earthlink, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail. You can create free accounts just for testing.

23 Bad example – display problems

24 What and When to Send Send timely messages. If people recognize the issue from the news or word-of-mouth, they are more likely to open and take action. Do not send just because you have space in your email schedule. It is better to give your audience a break than to send something that will not engage them. Do not send too early. The best event recruitment emails are sent a week or less before the event.

25 Good example: timeliness This action alert was sent out in response to a breaking news story.

26 Practice makes perfect! Keep this Powerpoint for reference when you compose your emails. Use our tips and examples to optimize the impact of your email message and formatting.

27 Questions? Contact: Kelly Gould Nicole Ghio Cara Longpre

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