I’m on vacation right now … likely checking in every so often … so I figured it was a good time for a guest post. Thanks Sadie!
Sadie Cornelius is the Director of Marketing for Cover Story Media, Inc. leading the charge on all brand management, social media strategy, graphic design and marketing growth initiatives. With more than 9 years experience in communications, new and traditional media, public relations, special events and film, her experience ranges from Fortune 500 companies to local non-profits. She’s also a pretty awesome, cool, fun human being. I mean, check out her picture. Fun, right?
In an age when the post office and traditional mail have become less and less common, we become much more reliant on email as a way to get our message to our friends, family and customers. Email these days is still one of the more personal forms of communication despite the fact that it’s used in a very mass ways. Like telegrams or cards, emails are between two people and are a one-on-one way to communicate electronically.
But over the past few years our inboxes have become more of a mailbox full of junk. It’s hard to sort through the pile and toss out or delete what’s irrelevant when there is so much to dig through. How do you avoid going in the trash? Think of your inbox in a more traditional way like a mailbox – what do you look for first when you get the mail? The baby shower announcements, the wedding invites, the birthday cards. People tend to gravitate toward these personal human connections.
How do you translate those emotional and personal connections to business? As an email marketer, it’s time consuming and can be expensive to keep up with your CRM efforts – birthday emails, thank you emails, etc. But an easy way to implement humanization into a mass communication message is to include something personal in your emails, even if it’s just the recipient’s name.
In researching for this blog post, I dug back through my notes from 2008 on “Email Best Practices.” While the facts may have changed in the past 5 years, the tactics remain the same: segment, personalize and deliver a one-to-one message. Direct mail marketing shares these strengths. So let’s get back to the basics and use these snail mail techniques in our email campaigns to make them more effective.
1. Share an Anecdote or Story – In a world where we are fed thousands of advertisements a day, a simple way to grab people’s attention as they sift through the coupons and dentist cleaning reminders is to share something personal. Just have a baby? Show us! Did you have a great time at a conference in Vegas? Tell us. The reason reality TV and Facebook has become so popular is people like entertainment and storytelling. DJ did a great job of this in his recent Valentine’s Day email.
2. Include your Email Signature and your Personal Social Media Links – It seems simple but so many people forget to do this. Think of it as the equivalent of putting a return address label on your envelope. Not just a way to contact you, but actually encourage them to get in touch. Take it a step further and put a photo of you to put a face to the name. As we in the SEO world are realizing how important Authorship is, giving a personal author and face to your content in email is also likely to be a game changer in the future. See example below.
3. Person to Person – Unlike web content, with email you have the ability to personalize your message, so make it personal. A simple “Hi John” might get their attention more so than a generic “To whom this may concern.” And keep in mind that people want to connect with people, not a brand. Unless you offer ongoing weekly e-deals like an airline, you may want to consider having your emails come from a personal address. I guarantee you even if they don’t recognize the from name, it will at least make people stop and think they might know you which may increase your open rate.
4. Use Personality in your Voice – Let’s be real, okay? Don’t talk like you would in a sales pitch, or to a second grader. Pretend like you are writing a letter to a pen pal. Although the recipient might be a complete stranger, you want to be human. If you have fun writing your content, it is more than likely they’ll have fun reading it, too. No one wants to read a long-winded research paper in the middle of his or her day. Keep it light, be brief and if possible use a little humor. It will give your readers something to look forward to in their inbox versus just another email to read.
5. Compelling Subject Line – When you check your home mailbox and you see a card or package that interests you, you open it and you open it with excitement! The same goes for email, but with email you get the chance to tease your recipient before they open with a compelling subject line. Give them a reason to open and more than likely they will, and that’s half the battle. Once their eye balls are inside your email, you’ve at least captured their oh so precious attention (Editor …errr … DJ Note: I’m a big believer in the power of a compelling email subject line).
6. Timing is Everything – Like an RSVP for a wedding, you might not react right away, and that’s okay. Unless you have a compelling offer like a one-day sale, the lag time on email can be up to a week or more. So be patient and as you send out email campaigns, be conscious of your timeframe. You wouldn’t send a wedding invite the day of, so don’t expect your readers to take immediate action, no matter how exciting your content. If you do have something timely, make sure you know the turn around time. Although email seems like it’s as easy as pressing a button, there are many steps involved. Mail doesn’t just magically show up on your doorstep. There are many steps that get it there. And if you miss the boat, don’t be afraid to send a belated birthday wish. It’s never too late to admit you missed out. Send a follow up post-event or take advantage of the less congested rush hour.
In conclusion, similar to the way Facebook has succeeded with sharing personal aspects of our lives, don’t be afraid to show a little personality in email marketing, too. You are likely not just another credit card application so don’t act like one. What grabs your attention? Who do you think has done a good job of personalizing email? Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and think about what would make you open and read your email then implement this plan.
P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. Give the latest episode a listen!
DID YOU KNOW…
I recently launched a new online course, Email Marketing Made Simple, that promises to help make you a better email marketer.
-Having trouble growing your email list?
-Not sure what a preheader is?
-Avoiding using the word “free” in your subject lines because someone told you it was a “rule.”
-Having trouble figuring out how to use social media and email marketing together?
-Not sure what you should be testing and how often?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions (or all 5!), I can help.