8 Elements of an Effective Email

As school marketers, we are always trying to improve our marketing strategy. Email is an essential marketing tool for school marketing. Email marketing that follows these 8 elements of an effective email will increase engagement, boost clicks, and maximize marketing performance.

Today’s blog post is intended to help school marketers learn to use email more effectively. It can help you determine whether email is the best mode of communication depending on the situation and write messages that successfully convey your meaning to your intended audience.Elements of an Effective Email

While email is a useful tool, it can present some challenges to the writer. Miscommunication can easily occur, especially when people have a different understanding of the message being sent or received.

Email is used for many different purposes; depending on your purpose, the messages you send will be different in terms of content, formality, and hoped-for outcomes.

Email has taken the place of marketing and sales letters for a long time, and it takes a lot less effort to respond to an email than having to write a formal letter.

Even though communicating via email is easier than sending out typed and printed letters, there is an important downside to emailing – people are inundated with emails making it easy for them to miss or not answer most of the emails they receive.

8 Elements of an Effective Email

You can make it easier on your email subscribers by following these 8 essential elements.

  1. Use a name in the “From Field”

 Designate a staff person as the email contact and include their name in the “From Field”. Also, be sure to capitalize correctly. For example, it should be “John J. Jones, St. Mark’s School” not “john j jones, st. mark’s school” or “JOHN J JONES, ST. MARK’S SCHOOL”. 

  1. Effective email includes a concise, direct subject line

The subject line of an email is the line of text people read before they open your email. The line of text is crucial because it often determines whether or not your email is opened. In order to ensure it isn’t sent straight to the trash folder, be sure your subject line is optimized. As a matter of fact, a study conducted by Barilliance found that 64 percent of subscribers decide whether to open an email or not based on the subject line.

Here are a few tips for effective subject lines:

  • Keep your subject lines short

People frequently read subject lines on a mobile device, which may only display up to 40 characters or about five to seven words. Readers are often in a hurry and want to quickly scan through their email subject lines to determine which ones they want to open and read.

  • Find ways to pique your readers’ interest

One way to generate interest is to ask an open-ended question. Questions are a great way to capture your readers’ interest. Asking a question will inspire readers to open your email in order to discover the answer to the question.

Another way to pique your readers’ interest is to write a “teaser” subject line. Try to think about what will hook your readers and spark their interest.

  • Include a call-to-action in your subject line

This tactic is especially effective for events, such as “Join Us for the New Parents Luncheon XX/XX/20XX!” That way, even if people don’t open the email, they will get the basic information, such as type of event and the date. This will encourage readers to open the email to get more information.

  • Find something interesting or entertaining to say

People gravitate towards things that they find interesting or entertaining. In order to find the best way to do this, consider who your audience is as well as what your school has to offer them. Think about what your school is known for and highlight that in your subject line.

  • Highlight a video or other multimedia in email subject

If you’re adding a video, linking to a presentation or podcast, highlight it in your subject line. By doing this, you can increase the number of opens by up to double!

Want to improve your subject lines? Consider checking your subject line using a headline analyzer tool. These tools are great because they give you a score for readability, SEO, and sentiment. There are many headline analyzer tools on the market. Two of the most popular include Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule and MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer

  1. Write better preheader text

Preheader email text is the summary text that follows the subject line when viewed in the inbox. Many email service providers include them to give the reader context of the contents of the email.

Along with the subject line, keep the preheader short and succinct. Readers have a short attention span so the preheader should be kept to between 85 and 100 characters.

Keep in mind subscribers use preheader text as a prescreening tool. Use the subject line and preheader text to help readers decide whether to open your campaign and take the action you want them to.

  1. Include a proper greeting in your email

It’s become common for people to eliminate greetings in emails altogether. While this may be okay in certain casual situations, marketing emails should include an appropriate greeting. Just keep in mind that your email greeting can affect the way the recipient views your school – and even whether or not they read your message.

Here are a few email salutation examples:

  • Hi (first name) – This is suitable for any situation where you know the recipient’s first name. Just remember “Hi there!” is strictly for informal emails.
  • Dear (name) – “Dear (name)” is appropriate for all formal emails but has a slightly old-fashioned feel making it less suitable for informal messages.
  • Hello (name) – Another universally acceptable salutation, “Hello (name)” is considered slightly more formal than “Hi” and can be used either with a first name or Mr./Ms. + last name.
  • Greetings – This email is less common but good if you’re not sure how to spell the recipient’s name
  • Good morning / afternoon / evening – This is a polite way to open an email to a group of people, or it can be used with personalization
  • Other appropriate greeting based on content of email – Sometimes a greeting needs to be an introduction into the content of the email. 
  1. Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation

 It’s essential you check – and recheck – the grammar, spelling and punctuation in your emails. This is important because it speaks to your authority as an educational institution. First impressions matter; you want to make sure you come across as polished and professional.

Want to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation? Check out Grammarly: Free Online Writing Assistant 

  1. Include only essential information

It’s okay to be friendly in your emails but try not to be too chatty. People are busy and don’t want to have to sift through text they aren’t interested in. Include vital information near the beginning of your message to increase the likelihood that subscribers will read it. If your emails contain more than a couple of paragraphs, you run the risk of readers losing interest.

  1. Make it scannable

Subscribers, especially working parents, are very busy and many prefer to quickly skim through the details of your emails. Here are some ways to make your emails as easy to scan as possible.

  • Keep paragraphs short

Using short paragraphs helps make your email copy easier to read. One way to do this is to focus on only one idea at a time so your subscribers can easily find the information they’re looking for.

  • Capitalization of headings and subheadings

Capitalize your headings and subheadings the same way you would a sentence – generally the first word is the only one capitalized, i.e. “Our contact info” rather than “Our Contact Info” or “OUR CONTACT INFO”. This improves readability making it easier to scan.

  • Insert extra space between paragraphs and the next heading

It’s easier for readers to scan when there’s white space. Make sure the extra spacing is between the end of a paragraph and start of the next heading. This makes it easier for people to group paragraphs with their respective headings.

  • Break down ideas into lists

Bullets or numbered lists make it easier for people to scan the information you’re sharing. Readers respond well to lists so try to create them whenever it makes sense to do so.

  • Use the right font

An attractive, simple font is best for emails. Readability is more important than using a fancy font. The best fonts can be displayed properly by all email providers.

Here is a list of some of the best email-friendly fonts for emails.

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Courier New
  • Futura
  • Geneva
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica Now
  • Jam Grotesque
  • Lucida Sans
  • Palatino
  • Public Sans
  • Tahoma
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana
  • Use the correct font size

The size of the font you use should ensure your readers can easily read it as well as scan the page. You don’t want your font size to be so small people have to squint to read it, but you don’t want it so large it takes up too much of the page.

Also, use different sizes for different parts of the letter. For example, your headings should be the largest and then sub headings smaller than the headlines but larger than the text. Your copy should be between 10 and 12 points.

You can also make certain elements of the copy larger, such as your phone number and address of your campus.

  • Don’t use indentation

In general, readers prefer the text be in alignment, such as when you write in block paragraphs. A heading above an indented line creates a misaligned effect and will confuse readers.

  • Include a call to action

Calls to action are essential for marketing emails. Make sure the reader knows what you want them to do next. Whatever action it is you want your reader to take next, make sure they can easily see and follow it.

  1. Closing, signature and signature block

Your closing is important because it tells the reader who is contacting them. Always sign off with the name you used in the From Field. In school organizations, it is common to use a custom signature at the end of an email.

Regardless of whether you use a signature, always use a friendly, but brief closing, such as:

  • Thank you,
  • Regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • Respectfully yours,

A signature block at the end of an email typically includes the sender’s contact information. This information should be aligned on the left-hand margin. Here’s what to include:

  • Sender’s name
  • Sender’s title
  • Sender’s organization
  • Sender’s physical location, phone numbers and email address
  • Link to your website
  • An image or photo of the sender
  • Include links to your social media networks

Want to view email signature block templates? Check out this search on Canva

Final Thoughts

If you can start writing emails using the above eight key email elements, you’ll improve your email open and click-through rates. As a result, you will have happier subscribers and increase your number of inquiries.

What elements do you think are essential for email marketing? What should be included in the above list? Please comment below…

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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