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Choosing the Right Format for Your E-Mail Marketing Message

As you compose your marketing e-mails, remember that the format of your e-mail visually communicates the main idea of its content before your audience even begins to read it. Consumers expect the format of your e-mail to match the information it contains, so using the proper format helps to build your audience’s trust.

Choose the format that best suits your audience’s expectations for the content and that best conveys the main point of your message. Clearly communicating the type and content of your e-mail helps your customers and prospects decide what to do with it — save a newsletter for later reading or read an event invitation immediately.

Updating a newsletter format for your e-mail marketing message

People don’t read e-mail newsletters the same way they read paper newsletters, so don’t just cut and paste your paper newsletter content into an e-mail newsletter template. Consumers are more likely to read newsletters when you summarize larger bodies of content and provide links to a website with additional content.

The newsletter format is popular because it can deliver multiple messages and a variety of content, including

  • Communications to members of an organization

  • Advice and opinion columns

  • Stories and opinions

  • Product support articles

  • Event calendar highlights

  • Excerpts and summaries of larger bodies of information

    A newsletter template is best for informative content; columns are a good design choice. [Credit: C
    Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact
    A newsletter template is best for informative content; columns are a good design choice.

Choose an e-mail newsletter format when your e-mail content

  • Contains multiple headlines and messages

  • Includes multiple calls to action with multiple themes

  • Requires a consistent look and feel to tie multiple messages together

  • Offers more informative content than promotional content

  • Is delivered on a regular schedule

Pushing a promotional format for your e-mail marketing message

Promotional e-mails ask your audience to take specific actions, usually in the form of a purchase decision or a personal commitment. Promotional templates involve a wide variety of designs and layouts, so keep the images, text, headlines, and links focused on your main call to action and the current promotion.

A promotional e-mail can offer

  • Sales and discounts that call for an immediate purchase or an immediate commitment

  • Descriptions and images of products and services with links to more information

  • Limited time offers requiring immediate action

  • Step-by-step directions for taking action on the e-mail content

  • Testimonials and facts to help readers justify a purchase decision

    Use a promotional e-mail template for special offers, product descriptions, and testimonials. [Cred
    Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact
    Use a promotional e-mail template for special offers, product descriptions, and testimonials.

Choose a promotional format when your e-mail contains

  • A single main idea or message asking for a purchase decision or a personal commitment

  • One or more calls to action tied by a similar theme

  • Design elements that reinforce the items or actions your message promotes

  • More promotional information than informative

  • Delivery on a routine or event-driven basis in order to drive sales

Sending an event invitation with your e-mail marketing message

E-mail is one of the best ways to deliver event invitations because people tend to respond to e-mail invitations more quickly than they do to mailed ones. Use an event format for

  • Customer appreciation events

  • Seminars and workshops

  • Public appearances

  • Meetings and networking events

Choose an event invitation format when your content includes

  • A single invitation message or multiple, related invitation messages

  • A single call to action focused on confirming attendance to an event

  • Design elements to reinforce the event information

  • One primary objective — to increase event attendance

  • Delivery on an event-driven basis in order to motivate people to attend your events

    Use design elements in an event invitation to reinforce the event and increase attendance. [Credit:
    Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact
    Use design elements in an event invitation to reinforce the event and increase attendance.

Going with an announcement format for your e-mail marketing message

An announcement format is useful when you don’t have a specific call to action but want to capture your subscribers’ attention. You can go urgent, as with a special bulletin, or not so much with a thank-you card. Other e-mails that fit in the announcement format include

  • Press releases

  • Holiday greetings and annual recognitions

  • Official notices and statements

  • News bulletins

Choose an e-mail announcement format when your content

  • Contains a concise single message with little or no supporting information

  • Has no specific call to action or the call to action simply asks the audience to read the message

  • Contains design elements that enhance the main idea or headline in your message

  • Has an entirely nonpromotional nature

  • Requires delivery on a specific date or on an event-driven basis in order for your message to make sense

    Use an e-mail announcement for single messages with no specific call to action. [Credit: Courtesy o
    Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact
    Use an e-mail announcement for single messages with no specific call to action.
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