Is Your Email Program Missing This Key Ingredient?

Jan 11, 2017 10:30:39 AM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

One of our clients manufactures brand/product identification (e.g., components for displays, overlays, decals). They serve industries ranging from automotive and sporting goods to aerospace, kitchen and bath, and power tools. When we first started working together we discussed how an email program would help them make headway with their audience of purchasing agents, product designers, engineers and point of purchase companies.

At some point during the meeting the president of the company asked if it would be appropriate to include content that didn’t directly aim to push their services.

My answer was a resounding "You betcha!" We then talked about the challenge of enticing your contacts to open non-essential, non-transactional emails. I said that taking a lively, personal approach can make a big difference with opens and clicks.

Here's an example. In the spring of 2014, we sent an email that generated the highest open rate we've ever received. The message itself was newsy but unlike any email we've ever sent. The subject line was "FYI – just sharing some fun news." Some of the people who opened the email hadn't opened an email from us in two years. Several dozen people I don't typically hear from responded with a note.

Many companies aren't comfortable taking a personal, or playful approach to their email messages. When I ask why, I get all kinds of reasons. They include, "We have to maintain our professionalism." "Buyers need frequent reminders of our products/services or they won't buy from us." "Clients are too busy to look at emails that don’t serve a purpose."

Hogwash.

Consider this: When kids find reading boring or a challenge, their parents and teachers look for ways to make it fun. Why can't more email marketers make their reading material appealing? We should keep in mind some of the principles that educators and parents follow:

Offer appropriate content. Children get frustrated and discouraged when books are beyond their reading level. Don't make the mistake of writing and sending messages so full of industry jargon that your audience gets turned off.

Give choices. Children like choosing their own books. Why not let your audience sign up for the emails they want to receive – be it newsletters, white papers, or, if applicable, special offers? Let them look forward to receiving the "gifts" they request.

Go beyond the basics. Some children like listening to audiobooks and may absorb more of the story when it's presented in this format. Consider incorporating podcasts or videos into your emails. They easily allow for your company's personality to shine, and you'll quickly discover whether these platforms appeal to your audience.

Set the stage properly. You've probably seen colorful, comfortable reading rooms in libraries and bookstores where children love to visit. Make sure the "environment" where your emails are viewed is inviting. The graphics surrounding your email content should be welcoming, too.

Break some rules. I was the kid who routinely read in bed under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be asleep. I didn’t retain less of the book because I read it after hours. Studies show that people open emails based on who they are from, then the subject matter. Try releasing your emails on different days and times (avoid the wee hours of the night); you might find that you catch the attention of some readers you can’t reach during traditional hours.

If parents have concerns about their child’s ability to read at an age-appropriate level, they will typically turn to the teacher or a specialist for guidance. The same applies to your e-marketing. Ask for help. If you aren’t getting the results you want, hire a professional. Just make sure whoever you choose knows how to create compelling messages that your audience looks forward to receiving.