There was a time, not too long ago, where marketing pundits and other “experts” were saying that E-mail had run it’s course as a marketing media vehicle, that it was stale, that it’s open rate was too low, that the spam filters and firewalls had made it nearly impossible to get good results with e-mail marketing.
Now those same pundits (of whom I was not one) are having to eat their words as major marketers are singing the praises of a well-crafted, simple e-mail to your hottest, most worked on lists. As usual, it’s the message, not the medium that counts, and a well-crafted effective anything will always beat the schlocky, hacky, abusive e-mail campaigns that desensitized audiences and killed response rates based on misuse and abuse of the medium and therefore the audience.
As always, it comes down to personal approaches, real, workmanlike copy, free of typos, grammatical redundancy, slang and other silliness that kill credibility. E-mail is still mail, and it’s still sent to a single address, which means there’s a person on the other end. Simply write with that person in mind, on a one-to-one basis, and suddenly watch open rates soar, response rates double or triple, and sales shoot skyward.
Never mind all the gimmicks, bells and whistles. I know of one marketer that sends out plain text stuff that nets him phenomenal response rates – not a photo to be seen, not even a logo, just good effective copy, real headlines that resonate with the audience – his secret? He writes to his Grandmother in his mind – if the offer is clear enough for her to understand, if the copy clean enough that she won’t cringe (Grandma was a Jr. High English teacher), if the intent clear enough and the benefits plain enough for her to like it, he’s got a winner. Yes, he primarily markets to an older audience – but these days unless you work for Disney, who doesn’t? Not a bad acid test – can your latest missive pass it?
Keep it simple and keep it direct – speak to a specific person – if you personalize, be sure to get their name and gender correct, otherwise don’t bother. Nothing will kill response quicker than the feeling that you didn’t even care enough to send the right message – it’s like reading someone else’s mail, and it creeps people out.
Keep the file small, keep the message simple – huge files still give viewers trouble, big images still get caught in spam filters and firewall screeners. The trend in design these days is to make the whole e-mail an image or series of images – and my browser is set to make me actually request these image files in order to view them – why make me work to see your information? It would have to be a heck of a headline to make me click three more times and wait for them to load, when I can simply hit “delete”.
A well-researched list is still the key to success with E-mail. Most rented lists under perform, as e-mail addresses change more frequently than physical addresses. A self-selected list is best – based on a web login, or a previous response, or an inquiry, something you can verify and be sure is “opt-in” work very well – permission marketing is still king!
Frequency is something you can debate all day, but suffice to say if you irritate your audience, your response will drop, and often less is more. I’d rather hear from you 4 times a year with relevant info than 8 or 12 times with fluff and nonsense. Save it for the good stuff, if you’re going to go to all the trouble to put together the mechanics of an e-mail, it might as well be a good one . . .
Send me a copy of the worst e-mail you’ve received recently, and I’ll send it back to you with an analysis – FREE.
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