January 5, 2021

How to Create Effective EDMs – General Best Practice Guidelines

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Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

CEO - Shout Agency
[email protected]


Hundreds of billions of emails are sent out every day around the world. Email is today, by far the number one method of business communication. 

The average consumer’s inbox is flooded with all kinds of email offers and these numbers will only continue to rise. Despite these hurdles and the intense competition for recipient attention, electronic direct mail (EDM) remains the most cost-effective, convenient, and trackable way to announce new offers, promote a product, invite customers to an event, or introduce changes in personnel at the organization. 

To have optimal impact, EDM must stand out from competing messages the user receives. It must entice recipients to open, read and act on the email the culmination of which would be purchasing a product, attending an event, or just visiting a website. To run a successful EDM campaign, apply the following best practices.

1. Only Send Out Email When Necessary

The fastest route to getting your messages marked as spam is to send out emails with reckless abandon without taking the time to think about whether your recipients will actually be interested in what you have to say. 

Your prospects and customers probably receive dozens of promotional emails each day. To rise above the noise and leave a positive impression, understand in detail what your audience cares about and design your messaging around this. Each EDM message must be relevant, targeted and well-timed.

2. Use a Professional Sender Name

If your EDM has the sender name as [email protected], there’s a strong likelihood that the emails will be blocked by spam filters. Even if that doesn’t happen, such a sender name doesn’t inspire confidence in your prospects that they are indeed dealing with a credible business. 

For better response rates, use your business name as the sender name. It’s a statement of transparency and builds customer trust.

3. The Subject Line is Critical

Many businesses will spend plenty of time crafting the perfect email for their EDM campaign. Yet, all that effort would go down the drain if the email isn’t preceded by a great subject line. The subject should entice the recipient into the opening and read the email. It should capture the gist of the email but not be too verbose so as to extend beyond view in the email preview. 

The ideal EDM subject line should be no more than 7-words (or 50-characters) long, must grab the reader’s attention, arouse curiosity, play on a current event or popular culture and promise the recipient some benefit from reading the email. It should also avoid spammy terms like ‘amazing’, ‘winner’, ‘discount’, ‘free’, ‘win’, and ‘congratulations’.

4. Keep It Concise

The rules that apply to your email subject lines are also relevant to the email body. Keep the body text concise and easy to read. No one will have the time to read a 5,000-word email even if it offers breathtaking bargains. Instead, define a single goal of your EDM message and the associated calls-to-action then dwell on that and that only in a clear, coherent, and direct manner. 

“Lengthy text often means you are trying to convey multiple messages at a go which is a sure recipe for EDM campaign failure.”

Michael Jenkins

The longer the email, the more confused your readers become about what it is exactly you’d want them to do. It also increases the likelihood of them getting distracted before they finish reading the email. 

Be especially watchful about your email introduction as this is where you may be sucked into superfluous narration such as on your company history, structure, or senior management structure.

5. Personalize

EDM is called ‘direct’ for a reason. It’s about communicating directly to a consumer and not just bombarding them with generic messages typical of traditional email marketing. Make it clear throughout the email how your offer is relevant to their needs and how they stand to save money or time, enjoy better product performance, and/or experience higher efficiency. 

Even the wording should steer clear of the mundane ‘Dear Customer’ and work with the more affectionate ‘Dear Stewart’.

6. Use the Right Writing Style

Write brief, punchy copy that’s organized into bullet points and subheads. Keep paragraphs no more than 4 lines long. Ideally, the entire email shouldn’t exceed 300 words. 

You are more likely to make a connection with the reader if you adopt a conversational, educational tone as opposed to an overly salesy one. That being said, don’t go overboard in trying to sound like a friend. Avoid slang, hyperbole, and abbreviation. That will not only sound unprofessional but it will also inhibit your ability to relay information quickly (since not everyone will immediately know what the words you use mean).

7. Clear, Compelling Call to Action

The call-to-action is the beating heart of your EDM. Create a call-to-action that’s difficult to pass up. Eliminate anything that may trigger hesitation. If it’s an event invitation, for instance, provide all the information needed to facilitate attendance such as the agenda, venue, date and time, meals, parking availability, and how one can register. List the benefits attendees can expect from the event. 

Create a sense of urgency but without resorting to exaggeration.

You can foment urgency by showing that this is an exclusive, one-time offer, or (in the case of B2B EDMs) that the recipient’s competitors have already adopted the model, product, or service.

8. Beware the Smartphone

The number of smartphones shipped per year has far surpassed desktop computers and laptops and that gap will only continue to grow well into the foreseeable future. In 2018, about 1.4 billion smartphones were shipped worldwide compared to just under 260 million PCs. What does this mean for EDM? 

Well, messages you send out are far more likely to be read on smartphones than on a desktop computer. Therefore, you have to structure your emails with an emphasis on smartphone readability. In any case, anything that’s readable on a smartphone will almost certainly be readable on a desktop computer.

EDM is Here to Stay

At some point, some experts were predicting the demise of email thanks to the proliferation of social media platforms such as Facebook. If anything, however, social media marketing is losing its overall effectiveness while email marketing and EDM continue to thrive. Apply these best practices to ensure your EDM campaigns are effective, boost your conversions, and grow your revenues. If you need assistance from experts, feel free to contact our Melbourne SEO agency today.

Book a free 45 minute consultation today.

    Book a free 45 minute consultation today.

      Shout logo in grey

      As Founder and Director of Shout Web Strategy, Michael Jenkins is at the forefront of digital marketing. Since it’s inception in 2009, Shout has built a strong reputation as one of Australia’s leading strategic SEO agencies, assisting online businesses to formulate, implement and track successful marketing strategies. Michael is a respected thought leader and digital strategist, specialising in online strategy, corporate SEO, Google retargeting, email and conversion rate optimisation, and online reputation management. Follow Michael on Google+, connect with him through LinkedIn or visit the Shout Web Strategy website.

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