Like movies and fashion, it seems everything old is new again. Trends come and go and come again, and these days, it seems everything in Hollywood is a remake of a classic.
In the world of marketing, I would say the same goes for email. While social media channels continue to proliferate, email has stayed almost the same, for better and for worse. While innovations in email have been underwhelming (to say the least), as a channel for engaging and driving action from customers it continues to be one of the strongest tools in the marketing toolbox.
I will be like the movie studios here and bring out an oldie but goodie. A few years ago I penned this article on the efficacy of email. Three years (and thousands of emails) later, I still stand by my position, however I have updated it with some fresh insights. (You can teach this dog some new tricks!)
What I said then: Email is not dead. Let me repeat...email is NOT dead. Not only is it alive and well, I believe it is having a Renaissance moment. Like Goldilocks, what email is able to deliver is “just right” in today’s chaotic media jungle.
What I say now: What she said.
What I said then: Social media sucks.
What I say now: That was harsh. Social media has its place. Use it wisely.
The social media landscape continues to be quickly evolving and highly saturated. That’s why it’s critical to get it right (for example, make your organic social organic, not a sell sheet).
While social channels are a powerful way to build awareness and affinity towards your brand, our feeds are filled with things we didn’t sign up for. With email, we only get what we want and we can read it when we want, whereas our social media feeds are there one minute and gone the next. And where social media is short and newspapers are long, what we get in an email can be just the fix we need.
What I said then: Email is the new magazine.
What I say now: Fish where the fish are!
If someone has signed up for your email list, that means they are either a fan of your brand, interested in your subject matter, or hopefully both. In the past, consumers relied heavily on editorial publications to feed their content desires. But now that most magazines have either folded, reduced their frequency and/or have more ads than editorial, it’s just not the same.
Nowadays, consumers are looking directly to their favourite brands to educate and enlighten them. Enter the email newsletter. Now you can find high-quality content on just about everything under the sun (and even about the sun if that’s what tickles your fancy). This creates a lucrative opportunity for brands to connect and engage with their biggest fans by delivering valuable content.
What I said then: Yes, please. No, thank you.
What I say now: They said yes! What are you waiting for?
In an era where consent matters (Amen), email is a much more private and respected channel than other mediums. We invite people to send us stuff by opting into their newsletters. Once a consumer has given you this permission, cherish it! Don’t just sell, SERVE. In our business we refer to it as the three Es: Entertain, Enlighten, Educate. Building a relationship with customers is a two-way street. We need to give if we wish to receive. As easily as a consumer can opt in, they can opt out (unless you’ve made it difficult and that’s just bad etiquette).
Some New News
In my quest to infuse this article with some new insights, I spoke to Ravi Diyandal, director of growth marketing here at Venturepark. He provided a valuable roundup of best practices to help get your email program to perform optimally:
Build Your Base
It takes as much time, money and effort to send an email to 100 people as it does to 1,000 so the best bang for your buck is to build your audience! Provide incentives to get users to provide their email addresses. For example, provide exclusive content or offers in exchange for their opt-in. This can be many things like helpful tips or free trials of your product. Also, consider offering referral bonuses or discounts (your customers are your best ambassadors).
Test, Test, Test
Email marketing is a continual learning opportunity. When launching an email campaign, set up tests so that you can learn from each deployment. For example, you can test different subject lines and use the most effective one for your next campaign. Also, communicate the main value of the email in your subject line. For example, if you are emailing about a sale, put the price point and total savings in the subject line.
Keep it Simple
Clean reigns supreme. Keep your creative simple and easy to read. People are reading emails in various browsers and platforms (like on mobile and tablets) so ensure your design is adaptable and legible across any of them. While we as marketers have lots to say, keep your message focused and your calls-to-action prominent. Clutter can kill!
So what does that mean for your email program? If you’re looking to give it a boost (or get it off the ground), feel free to get in touch. All you need to do is send me an email (email@example.com). It works…I swear by it.