Lesson 1: Tell it like it is in the subject line
When it comes to the subject line, you don't need to get cheeky. Service terms and privacy policies are pretty serious issues, and it's important your subscribers know what you're sending them. The last thing you want to do is confuse your audience. Here's a sample of the subject lines we've seen:
- Important Updates to Etsy's Terms and Policies
- We're updating our Terms of Service
Lesson 2: Personalization gets attention
Many legal emails we received included a personalized introduction. In other words, the emails were addressed to recipients by name using a firstname merge field. Here's an example from OpenTable:
Personalization makes sense for these letter-style memosthat are dense with text. The goal is to get users to actually read your message, and it helps increase engagement when you call them by name. Here's another example from Uber:
LinkedIn takes personalization one step further by also including the recipient's profile picture in the header. It's a visual cue that essentially says "This email is about me" or "This email is for me."
Lesson 3: Most brands either summarize or include information in the email itself
Instead of leaving your subscribers to click a link or CTA button to see updates, most brands offer a rundown of significant changes within the email itself. It's wise to err on the side of transparency. The goal is to make sure your clients are informed about your updates, so presenting the information right away is effective. Here's an example of a summary email from DropBox:
Slack also included a summary portion of its email with just a few bullet points.
Similarly, Twitter used its notification email to inform its users of updates, but the details of the updates themselves were not in the email.
Lesson 4: Skip navigation menus, secondary calls to action, or any other marketing material
The same goes for this email from MailChimp:
Lesson 5: Improve legibility with text formatting best practices
As with any text-heavy email, you can improve legibility by following best practices for text formatting. Depending on your message, this probably includes header formatting, ample padding, proper line spacing, text styling (bold or italics), bullets or indentations, and color. Typeform sent one of the more elegantly formatted emails, using headers and questions to organize text.
Bulleted lists can also help your subscribers scan content, and the linked text is easy to spot. Be sure to check out our post on how to format text-heavy emails for easy reading.Similarly, Meetup used headers and bullets for simple scanning. And, its red CTA buttons are easy to spot.
Skype used a particularly large font in its update email, along with checkmarks instead of bullet points.
Lesson 6: Use an HTML background color to make your content pop
Indiegogo used a background color in a different way—to create a "boxed" email effect. Using an HTML color like gray around the body content puts emphasis on the text, potentially improving focus and legibility.
Etsy uses the same approach by showing that the background color doesn't have to be gray; it can be a muted brand color instead.
Make your legal notification emails look clean, simple, and well-designed. Follow these tips from other brands:
- Start with transparency in the subject line. Indicate exactly what the email contains.
- Personalize your message with names. Grab attention right away. Also, consider using a header style.
- Include a summary of the important info within the email. Don't assume subscribers will click to your site.
- Don't add any secondary content in legal notification emails. Keep them clean and clutter-free.
- Use formatting to improve legibility. These can be text styling, bullets, and colorful links.
- Incorporate a background color. Keep in mind of your overall layout and heading.
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