Categories BlogTips

How to construct e-shots that really hit the mark







E-mail marketing can be a very cheap, effective way of up-selling, managing existing customers or getting new ones to purchase. But with in-boxes full to the brim with spam containing worms, viruses and Trojan horses, it’s imperative that your e-shot does a good job of getting past your customer’s natural instinct to trash it before they’ve even looked at it. Here is Oxygen’s guide to making sure your e-shot hits the mark.

E-shot ready…

Planning an effective email marketing campaign is all about attitude. While they’d never act rudely in person, e-mail marketing is so easy, fast and cheap that many e-mail marketers have forgotten their manners. Of course, just as in real life, this can put your customer off your brand for life. Therefore the golden rule in a marketing arena so used and abused, and where customers are already and justifiably over-sensitive, is ‘do unto others…’.

E-shots arrive in your customer’s personal in-box. The hard sell, especially when uninvited can feel incredibly intrusive. So put yourself in your customer’s place. Are you writing and designing an e-shot they’re going to feel glad to receive? Start by treating them as you would a valuable contact you’d made at a conference, trade show or on your shop floor. If you met a potential customer in person, hopefully you’d show some respect by:

  • addressing them correctly and politely by their name
  • reminding them of how they know you
  • offering some useful information
  • not waffling, using jargon or wasting their time
  • presenting your offer up front and attractively
  • finding a way of relating to their current concerns
  • not pinning them to the wall.

All these points are ones that can be translated to the way your e-shot looks and sounds, including using a well-designed bright visual template which includes your logo, a friendly, helpful tone, scannable and relevant copy and allowing a fast and easy ‘unsubscribe’ option that will be honoured.

E-shot aim…

Something that customers find particularly annoying is receiving a completely irrelevant mail that wastes their time. One of the first things you should do, if you haven’t already, is clean up and filter your mailing list. Copy that’s suitable for customers probably isn’t suitable for rival businesses, business leads or your suppliers. If you don’t know what your customers are interested in, provide a fun survey so that you can ask!

Customers that have recently purchased a large ticket item may be happy to be up-sold accessories. Those that haven’t purchased anything for a while may need to be wooed back with a special discount or offer. New customers may need to be taken through a long sales cycle with an opt-in to further steps at each stage. Each of these groups needs a specific e-shot or series of e-shots designed and written especially for them if you want to seriously increase click-through and conversion rates.

The point is to target your audience sub-sets so that the e-shots they receive from you seem genuinely helpful. That way they look forward to receiving them and will make a habit of browsing through them or even forwarding them to friends. You can help things along by:

  • only sending out to people who’ve signed up to your list
  • making your offer relate to their concerns e.g. a last minute father’s day offer with fast delivery
  • offering tips and information that will save them time, hassle or money – e-shots that educate or inform are significantly more likely to be opened and read
  • including links to specific product pages on your website rather than your homepage
  • including links to useful blogs and articles
  • including benefits up front with copy that’s short and scannable
  • asking for feedback
  • giving your registered business address so that they know you’re a bona fide business.

E-shot fire!

With a reported delivery rate of only 56% for e-shots, none of this is going to be any use if your mail doesn’t arrive, get opened or display properly. E-shots should be written in HTML to allow tracking and display on all the major browsers and in the major web based email systems such as Yahoo and Googlemail. It’s good policy to include a link at the top of the mail, so that recipients can view the mail in a web page if it doesn’t display properly. Make sure you choose a delivery system that won’t get your site blacklisted for sending spam. It’s also worth investing in good quality E-shot software that allows you to create different groups of subscribers and target them individually, to personalise each mail and allows good monitoring of your delivery, opening and click-through rates.

And design is key. You don’t want to let your e-shot look like a dodgy message from a Nigerian ‘prince’ who wants to get to know you (and give him a ‘short term emergency loan’…) E-shots are an important way to build a relationship with your customer. It’s well worth investing in designers who can make sure your mail looks professional in order to build your brand image. They can create image balanced templates in which you can replace text whenever you need to. You can add value to your efforts by making sure that you include social media opportunities in your mail e.g. sharing on Facebook and Twitter – and a ‘forward to a friend’ option to grow your mailing list further.

Just finally, make sure your subject heading gets your e-shot opened. Here are some Oxygen copywriting tips on how to write effective subject headings.


In short, effective email marketing is a sensitive combination of target marketing, design, copywriting and technical and monitoring skills that feed back in each other to create a positive loop. One that builds a good ongoing relationship with your customers. If all that is more than you have time for, why not let Oxygen do it for you. We’re a full service communications agency with expert teams of designers, marketers and copywriters. Give us a call today on 0845 2606 255.


Steve Lodge :Steve trained as a NCTJ journalist and is an experienced copywriter. He has over 15 years in agency, and started Oxygen in 2002.