December 24, 2013
Let’s turn our attention to what is turning out to be one of the most effective forms of direct response marketing: Email Marketing. When done properly, it’s highly targeted and the analytics are relatively easy to track. Your audience can be tracked in regards to ‘opens’, ‘clicks’ and at the other end of the spectrum ‘unsubscribe’ - so you can assume that they actually want to hear from you depending on which of these actions occur. Best of all it is fairly inexpensive (although time is money, it is relatively time efficient) and, if done methodically, can deliver measurable ROI.
Despite all these benefits, many companies end up driving their users away by using poor etiquette and not thinking about the needs of the target audience. The key to avoiding the dreaded ‘unsubscribe’ is creating a strong content strategy that delivers relevant messages to the right audience segments.
Here are a few tips on how to develop an effective email content strategy:
- Define Your Goals: It’s important to go into an email content strategy with clearly defined goals. Are you looking to introduce a product or service? Grow your subscription list? Raise awareness for possible donations? The more specific you are, the better the results will be that follow. Even better yet, once your goals are in place, you can then craft your content around accomplishing them. For instance, if your main goal is sales of a product, you probably want to develop a content strategy that centers on benefits versus features. A good analogy: when you are trying to travel somewhere new, you would use a map (strategy), if you are trying to achieve something different you need a strategy (map).
- Target Your Message: A good email list should be well-organized and segmented, allowing you to tailor your messages to the most relevant audience. Generic mass emails will typically result in very low open rates and click-through rates. Highly targeting your email by actually addressing it to the recipient AND mentioning their company within the body of the email will dramatically increase your results.
- Maintain an Editorial Calendar: Although it may seem like a hassle, an editorial calendar is incredibly useful for helping to define a content strategy and organizing all team members in an effort to keep everyone on the same page. You don’t have to live by it – there are occasions where it makes sense to deviate, like a time sensitive message related to a company event or sale.
Test Your Content: No matter how much you think you know about your brand and messaging -continually test different types and formats of content.
- Is the subject line grabbing people’s attention – generally speaking ‘question’ subjects tend to work well: Are you losing your XXX; Is your XXX being maximized; Do you know how much XXX you can save, etc.
- Does your body’s language match your subject – if you ask a question does the body refer back to the question? Don’t use hyperbolic Subjects just to draw people in, they will be greatly disappointed if after reading the message their question wasn’t answered.
- Are there ‘calls to action’ in the body – big green button that says CLICK, BUY, SEE MORE? Design the body around what the goal of the email is – see #1.
- Is your contact information easy to find, and better yet visually appealing?
- Don’t clutter your email with too much text – you have maybe 3 seconds to grab that persons attention.
- Balance Promos with Entertainment: Because email has such immediate and measurable response, it can be tempting to pump out promotional messages relentlessly. With a big list, you may achieve a few sales for each email, although you will probably have a pretty low open rate and high unsubscribe rate. If you want to maintain the size and quality of your list, consider including non-promotional messages in your strategy. This may sound counterintuitive, but the more interesting and relevant content you send out, the more likely your recipients are to open your emails and the more likely you are to make sales when you do send out your promotions. Nobody wants to be sold to, but everybody likes to be entertained. Keep that in mind as you work on your content.
Authored by: Attila Sary