You're sending mail: 5 rules for effective email marketing

So I know you guys are dying to learn more about my dietary proclivities and clearly pathetic social life, but it’s been months since I wrote anything even slightly work-related for the Resch Strategies company blog and I’m feeling compelled to share the kind of worthwhile content my oh so talented colleagues seem to produce on a weekly basis.

No cause for alarm though. This is just a temporary adjustment. After righting the ship just this once, I promise a full-fledged dive back into my fabulously boring life.


So who’s ready to learn about email marketing?!  

I’m serious though. This is actually important. No matter what line of work you’re in, communicating with your constituents/clients/targets is part of the job, and there’s a good chance some of that conversation is taking place over email. Don’t you want to make sure you’re doing that as effectively as possible?

Don’t worry, it’s doesn’t take much to write an email that your audience will see, read and act on – this isn’t rocket science. I mean, don’t get me wrong. At Resch Strategies, we’re all PR geniuses, so we can definitely make this rocket science if that’s what you want (don’t even get me started on subject line A/B testing), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Following the five simple rules below will be enough to put you ahead of just about everyone else.   

RULE 1: Have a point

Neal Page nailed it. Don’t make the Del Griffithesque move of sending an email just for the sake of sending an email.

I know it feels productive anytime you reach out to your audience, even if it’s just to remind them you’re around. But if you don’t have new, important information to communicate, do your best to fight that impulse.

You want to know how many unread emails currently sit in my inbox. 8,171. Any guesses as to how many of those are actually important? Zero.

Clearly, people already get enough worthless email, and you don’t want to be lumped into that category; it’s hard to win back an audience if you’ve got even a whiff of junk mail stink on you.  

RULE 2: Get to the point

You have to give people a reason to open the email you send and your only chance to do that is in the subject line. That sounds daunting, but don’t overthink this. Keep it short and sweet, but do your best to be specific.

In just a few words/seconds, your audience needs to be able to figure out who you are, why you’re emailing, and most importantly why they need to pay attention. Effectively hit on those points, and you’ll have done enough to get your email opened, which is half battle.  


RULE 3: Keep it short

Alright, cool. They opened the email.

Now keep it short, because we’ve all got other stuff to do.

I don’t mean to be blunt. If people voluntarily signed up to be on your distribution list, they’re obviously interested in what you have to say. But being at the very top of your audience’s priority list is probably wishful thinking.  

We all lead busy lives and that includes the people you’re trying to engage. Be respectful of that fact when you’re drafting a message by doing your best to keep it brief. Your readers will appreciate it.  

RULE 4: Make an ‘ask’

This one sort of dovetails with Rule #1. You should always ask your audience to do something. And if you can’t think of an action you want your audience to take, chances are your fingers shouldn’t be poised over the keyboard in the first place.

The point of emailing your audience is to engage them – it’s that simple. And just talking at your supporters doesn’t cut it.  Solicit them to do something, do anything, beyond mindlessly skimming some listless email.

The ‘ask’ doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, it shouldn’t be.  Simply asking your audience to ‘like’ your Facebook page is a perfectly acceptable call to action.

RULE 5: And keep it to just one.

Noticing a pattern here? If, for some reason, these five rules are too much to memorize, I can boil all of this down to one overarching, thematic phrase - keep it simple.

Don’t complicate things by asking your audience to engage on multiple fronts. You won’t be happy with the results. Instead focus on highlighting one, clear, specific call to action. You’ll be much better served. I promise.

And if you have more than one thing to ask of your audience, that’ great! That means you’ve already got your next email halfway drafted!

Just make sure you have these five rules covered before hitting send.