Social media marketing and on-page sales strategies (like pop-up ads and micro-moments) have, over the past decade, begun to replace older and more traditional (at that time) marketing methods such as email, cold calls, direct mail, and television or radio advertising. While those seemingly outdated marketing tactics may seem like little more than wasted effort for small returns, they can and do retain the marketing power they possessed in their ‘hey-day’ – if applied correctly. This post will focus on using email marketing as an effective and positive tool in your marketing arsenal.
In most cases, companies that use email marketing as part of their overall strategy do so because they are selling something and want to inform the recipient what it is that’s being sold and how that person can get it. Blatant salesmanship is obvious and excessive, and the email content is overwhelmed with calls to action and direct attempts to push the recipient into a sales funnel.
That is not the way to make email marketing work for you, unfortunately.
We all have a ‘spam’ box as part of our email program, and many people use it as a repository for a large percentage of the contents of their inbox (the parts that don’t automatically filter into the spam folder on their own). To take the first step in preventing that from happening to your message, you have to make the recipient NOT want to ‘spam’ your message right away. This means your email message must have an amazing subject line.
Studies have shown that shorter subject lines are more actionable than longer ones, and most analysts recommend that you use five words or less to convey the intent of your email message – and put the most important words at the beginning of the subject line. Rather than saying “Do you want to know more about making millions in your sleep?” – your subject line should say something like “Become a millionaire while napping? Yes, you can and here’s how!”
The subject line, aside from being short and sweet and to the point, should also be accurate with regard to what your recipient will find within the content of the message. Always avoid using sensational and sensationally false phrasing to attempt to trick recipients into opening your message. As soon as they find out that the contents do not deliver what the subject promises, your message will find itself in the spam folder or trash bin.
There is some debate regarding whether or not certain words compel clickability more than others. Do active words get more emails opened than passive phrasing? The debate continues to rage on and there is no true guidance or definitive study that places the answer on one side of the fence or the other. A/B testing with your own subject lines can help you determine which lines garner more attention and more positive results.
After you have found a subject line that stands out, you should move your attention toward the actual content of your email message. Is it extremely long-winded with technical jargon and industry-specific language, or does it speak to your readers in terms and phrases they can easily comprehend? Are you simply selling something or are you providing information and enticing your recipients to click your CTA to find out more? Is there true value in your email message, or is it just advertising fluff? These questions are important when it comes to how engaging and appealing your email content may be.
People do not, as a rule, like being sold to. They want to feel like any buying decisions they have made were made independently with little overt influence from the company they choose to patronize. If more than one product or service is offered, they want to feel like the final selection was made independently without coercion or force from ‘outside’ influences attempting to tell them what they should buy and for how much.
This means, quite honestly, that your email content should almost totally leave salesmanship at the door. Provide useful information to your recipients. Answer questions, solve problems, present unique ways of utilizing your services or products to solve problems or get results. Give them details on why you offer something that is better than anyone else – don’t just tell them so and expect them to believe it. Skepticism abounds.
When it comes to the visual presentation of your email message, less is more. Choose one or two images that support and emphasize your message. Avoid colorful and garishly designed CTA boxes that look like a miniature carnival. Simplicity should be the rule of the day, more so now than ever before, because people are often checking emails while they are on the go, which means they are doing so via a mobile device and in between Point A and Point B. This gives you a few seconds to convince them that they need to read your email and act on it.
Speaking of acting on it, make it extremely easy for your recipient to click something within your email message. A clear and easily understood CTA works very well. It should contain text or a description letting your recipient know what they will find at the end of the click. Whether you want them to sign up, download, buy, or subscribe to something – say so and make it simple to do so.
This information can give you a better idea of what consumers are looking for in email content, as well as what they don’t want to see. If you use email marketing or plan to do so, keep this in mind when crafting your messages. Make them irresistible to your recipients, give them a clear path of action, and make it ‘stupid-proof’ for them to enter your marketing funnel.