E-mail can be a very effective way to sell a message that you want someone to buy. But it isn’t just as simple as slapping words and graphics together in a message box.

There is no magic bullet for providing the right content to sell the customer, but there are fundamental principles that can be followed to create the best chance for success.

The Subject Line

The subject line is the first thing a customer sees when an e-mail is sent. If you don’t hook them with the subject line, you run the real risk of having the message deleted.

Make the subject line as direct and precise as possible. Sending out an invitation? Make invitation the first word in the subject line. Having a sale on some product, lead with the word sale. Giving something away for free, make free the first word in the subject line.

See a trend here?

Never mess around with the subject line of your e-mail. Be precise, get to the point, and give people a reason to read.

The Message

Just like the subject line, the fundamental principle to follow is to be direct and precise. Get to the point, say what needs to be said, and then be done with it.

Whether you are promoting on a sale, pitching a story to the media, or offering up a free product, you want to tell your audience the information in a short and simple method. Use language that speaks to the entire audience so that no one fails to understand the message that you are providing.

If you are using graphic content, be sure that it too is simplistic. Don’t provide any room for confusion by anyone. Show what you have to show and move on.

The Call to Action

You have hooked the person into reading the e-mail and you’ve made your case. Now you need to get them to commit to the sell.

Make the sell as simple as possible.

Giving something away? Then a basic form with as little information as possible will do the trick. If there is a piece of information that you don’t need to make the sale, don’t ask for it. Get what you need to be able to do your analytics and get out.

Trying to hook the media to a story? Give basic contacts and a link for more information. That’s it.

The call to action must be simplistic in order to keep the customer hooked. Any hang-ups along the way can turn the person off and there goes the sale.

The Signature

The signature is far more important than most people give credit.

Why? It’s important because it provides you with two important opportunities.

First, it gives you the chance to provide any additional relevant contact information a person may want for follow up. If they are on the fence about the sale, they may want to follow up with a real person.

Second, it is the final piece of the puzzle for tying the entire pitch together. Getting a sales pitch from a real person, in a time when so much is outsourced to unknown entities, can be very comforting to some people.

Think of the Buy Canadian and Buy American movements. A signatory line from a real person at a real company that is, in fact, in this country, could help provide that final piece to complete a sale.

Following these fundamentals will help provide you with the best opportunity to complete any sale through an e-mail. Whether it’s an invitation, a product sale, a media pitch, or a free offer, the desired end result is that the person on the other end will buy in. Nothing can guarantee that you will close, but knowing the right techniques will give you the best possible opportunity.