Most people prefer the familiar. It is reassuring and, probably more importantly, they don’t have to think. This is especially so of text and has been recognised by the newspaper and periodical industry as, when you are asked to write an article, you are normally send a ‘style of the house’, a brief (although not always) list of the preferences of the commissioning agent.
Some are simple enough, such as the format of dates: 25 April, 2015 rather than April, 25th 2015. In essence both mean exactly the same thing but consistency is important. Even the most casual of readers will notice the clash if an address is formatted differently in the same article, and on regularly read media, such as marketing emails, a lack of consistency will jar.
Every company generating copy, such as in email marketing, would benefit from having a style of the house, sometimes called a house style. It would aid the reader, by being consistent, and it would be distinctive, something as defining of your company as a logo, and costing considerably less as well. On top of that, it need not take too much time to produce.
I always have at hand a recent edition of The Oxford Guide to Style, published by the Oxford University Press, and despite writing most days, still refer to it, and more than occasionally. It sets a standard that many companies follow as it saves them the trouble of producing their own.
I don’t want to present myself as being a bit of a nerd, but it is an interesting read.
For someone regularly producing email marketing campaigns, and perhaps using copy from different sources, the book’s 600+ pages is, perhaps, a little excessive, except as a reference. So come up with with a list of your own requirements for any copy for a marketing email.
In the first instance, pick a style for common words and phrases, such as addresses and, as above, dates. It doesn’t matter what you decide on, just stick with it and ensure everyone who contributes copy is aware of it and complies.
As time goes on you will add things to it, but try, and preferably succeed, in keeping the number of revisions low.
Focus on words or phrases that are specific to your business or product. For instance, holiday companies will have to make decisions on foreign names. Accents can be a major problem here, with some of the popular destinations being Anglicised while the less frequented road might be littered with diphthongs, umlauts and other exotica.
Even the most popular countries have unfamiliar terms. How should you write ¡Bueno! for instance? Whether you include the first inverted exclamation mark is up to you, but it needs to be consistent.
If, for instance, you have a sizable customer base in Spain then your email marketing software will allow you to send one form to them and another to the rest.
Talking of sizable, would you prefer to have sizeable? Both are correct. To help decide, ask yourself which your customers would prefer. If either, then you still have to pick just the one.