Despite the ravages that the spammers have wrought on email’s trustworthiness, the format actually has a long established trusted reputation. It’s used widely in the business world as the main form of communication replacing the traditional letter. Our energy providers, our local councils and our banks all use it to contact us. We use it in the same way in which we also used personal letters and postcards in the past. While we may use social networks to chat, make friends and generally avoid getting bored at work, we don’t hold private conversations on them (OK, most of us don’t) in the way that we would on email. The DM functions on these sites are invariably used to say “email me”. Email is trusted and widely used by users from all backgrounds and ages across the world and when it comes to marketing choices this factor is an important one to consider. So how do you create the perfect marketing email?
Copy – the Essential Ingredient
The fact that email is a trusted format really does make a difference when it comes to marketing, however, trust can easily be lost in the virtual world. Even something as a misspelling can make your firm appear rather more cowboy than corporate. Get your copy produced professionally, unless you actually want to project a homely, unprofessional image (fine for cup-cake bakers, church and school groups, but not, generally for anybody else).
The Words and Pictures Mix
You don’t need (and it won’t work anyway) to write a novel to entice your customers. If you’ve got the segmentation right then you’ll be able to tailor your message to each group. Good quality email marketing mailings should include an eighty/twenty mix of words to images. Images are great but too many clutter the space and confuse the message (which should be “click here and buy”, but in hopefully more sophisticated terms). Email, like the traditional letter it has replaced is a written format, imagery, videos etc. can be left for your site. For some products the exception may be a link to a relevant YouTube video, as a “see [your product] in action” type of message, but in general, use words to cajole, convince and get your customers clicking in the right direction.
Succinct Copy & Subject Headings
Keeping the email short has two effects, one it allows you to distil your message down and get to the point of your campaign. For the customer it offers all they need to know, in a short space of time, without causing too much interruption to their lives. One advantage of email marketing over newer social media marketing techniques is that your message, once it has reached the inbox, isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. Your potential client has to make a decision before the email goes away. With social networks your message can be drowned out in the (very loud) conversational stream that it’s only a tiny part of.
Basic Instincts and the Delete Button
Understanding this decision making process is crucial when it comes to successful email marketing. For most of us it goes something like this;
“How many emails, oh, [expletive of choice here], better clear some out”
“Who, oh, yeah, remember signing up to that one..”
This is the make or break point for your campaign, sadly. The subject line has to be compelling enough to get past the delete button at precisely this point. “Sale Now On”, doesn’t cut the cake any more. There’s always a sale on somewhere. Creative, funny, intriguing, whichever route you choose, engagement at this point is crucial. Beyond this point comes the “too much information” point; keep the email short, one or two images should be enough to get the point across and a clear message, over several short paragraphs should be enough. Calls to action to one side, where they’re nice and visible, and one at the bottom should do the trick. A single font or two at most, no bright disturbing colours and/or moving images. Very few people have time to waste and very few will waste it.
An SMTP server provider makes sense if you plan to make the most of email marketing. Those who offer a range of tracking reports and allow you to segment your lists to reflect different age groups, interests or locations are often best placed to help you to create effective, efficient campaigns that can be put in place quickly and run promptly. In addition using a quality provider will ensure that your marketing campaigns reach those inboxes in the first place and avoid the email providers spam filters. While many marketing firms will place an increased emphasis on SEO, link building and social network marketing (all of which have their place) the good old fashioned email shot, to existing or interested customers, can take far less time to implement and produce faster, more effective results.
About the Author:
Andrew Schneider, online marketing professional and copy writer looks at why ‘traditional’ online marketing still beats the more recent arrivals.