Creating a Table of Contents in an Email

Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

In this lesson, we'll explore the use of emails as a marketing strategy. We'll take a look at using a table of contents, creating calls to action, the differences between types of links, and important things that should be included in endnotes.

Using Email as a Marketing Strategy

Technology has opened up a variety of marketing opportunities in the digital environment, and email messages are a terrific way to make some great connections with current and prospective customers.

There are conflicting schools of thought about what should be contained in a marketing email message. An organization does not want to annoy customers by sending multiple messages, on the other hand, including too much content in one message can be overwhelming. What can the marketing strategist do? A marketer could use a table of contents to provide lots of information in one email message.

Table of Contents

We all know what a table of contents is, right? We can open a recipe book, for example, and by looking at the table of contents, we see exactly what page desserts start and go right there. Well, marketers can do the same thing in email messages. Many people only scan email messages so providing them a way to go directly to what interests them is a good idea. All it really means is creating an internal link in the message to another part of the message which saves the recipient time. This is simple to do by bookmarking important segments within the message, and then at the top of the message, creating a table of contents or list of the internal hyperlinks. So, what might be included in a table of contents? Most likely, it will include calls to action.

Calls to Action

A call to action (CTA) is the specific action a marketer wants the email recipient to do and there are different levels and strategies to encourage that action. Let's take a look at them:

  • Main call to action: What the marketer really wants to do is to convert the recipient to a paying customer or subscriber. In order to make this conversion, the marketer would like to get all of the contact information from the customer (name, address, phone number, social media presence) which increases the available connection points the marketer can use in the future. The main call to action could be to download an ebook or video that might be of interest to the recipient. In order to get the book, the email recipient must act; click a link (we'll look at types of linkages in a minute).
  • Secondary call to action: Maybe the recipient isn't ready to buy. That's okay. The marketer can still ask them to act by asking the recipient to subscribe to a blog.
  • Tertiary call to action: If the recipient isn't willing to provide the information from the email, a tertiary call to action could simply encourage the recipient to go to the organization's webpage for additional information. This at least gives the marketer another shot at making a connection and then a conversion.

Let's take a look at how recipients can access these calls to action.

Text Links vs. Buttons vs. Images

To respond to a call to action, the email recipient must have a way to take that action. The three main ways are through text links, buttons, and images.

  • Text Links: Text links are the easiest. They are created with simple hypertext coding that most people today will recognize (blue and underlined text). The problem is text links are static and some say boring. If a marketer wants to jazz up their message, they'll use something else.
  • Buttons: Buttons are more interactive. There is a visual effect of a button depressing and changes in how the button looks, which is somewhat more satisfying to customers. Unfortunately, buttons are a little trickier because it takes time to create them and more time to develop the message. It's wise not to use too many interactive buttons as it will slow load time. On the plus side, since most people just scan their messages, buttons stand out from the message text.
  • Images: Similar to buttons, using images or pictures as a link is more interesting and all a recipient has to do is to tap the image to take the action. Again, like buttons, they are slower to load. Another issue is that many people have images turned off in their email programs, so they will only receive text, which makes buttons and images ineffective.

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