Despite the oft declared death of email marketing, I can assure you that it’s alive and well for those who understand how to use it effectively. There’s a guy named Ben Settles who makes his very fine living purely on email marketing. People actually pay Ben $97/month to get his Email Players to learn how to use email marketing the right way. “Ouch” you say? Yep, $97 a month, and people pay it because the vast majority of attempts at email marketing are abject failures.
Take one look at your open rates and you’ll understand that the primary reason for your own failure is unopened email. Obviously you cannot get your message across if your audience deems it not worth listening to from the get-go. You are in a BATTLE for the soul of your targets’ highly guarded inbox.
Here is your battle plan:
1. Write your subject line first
Make it short, SEXY, and stunning. Your subject line is the life’s breath of your email strategy. You need to think long and hard; put as much creative energy into this one line as you do the entire post. Ask a question that it’s almost impossible to not answer it. Don’t SELL. Be clever or humorous, and always thought provoking. Forcing yourself to spend serious time developing the subject line will ensure not only an intriguing header, but it will force you to stay disciplined on the subject you intended.
2. Your timing has to be spot on
Send your email at precisely the time your readers will be receptive to opening it, and don’t let anyone tell you timing isn’t important. The trick is to know when your specific target client will be online; if you don’t do the research you won’t know. For many business people late in the day on Thursday is optimal; they’ve ‘caught up’ from the weekend and won’t mind a little “distraction.” If you’re targeting Moms (and many others who are using Social Media socially) Sunday night is optimum. But don’t listen to me — do some research on your own. Send test emails at a variety of times you THINK will work.
3. Don’t be anonymous
Use your name and/or business; we are all suspicious of unrecognized email addresses. Within the body of your emails make sure you suggest that the user adds your company to their Outlook folder to avoid the Junk Folder.
4. Your reputation is everything
If you become a trusted source of USEFUL information, you’ll get the benefit of the doubt even on a Monday morning. You’ll become known as a valued source of information. This means every single email you send has to be worth reading. A single ‘mailing it in’ performance can lose subscribers forever.
5. Brevity is the soul of wit
Make your emails as short as possible; there should be an instinctive edit before you hit ‘send.’ There is nothing more frustrating to your reader than you wasting their time. Cute introductions to the actual POINT are not only wasteful; they’re potentially damaging your subscription list. Of course much of this goes back to #4 — Your reputation for succinct sharing of information and respect of the reader’s time will buy you mileage in the long run. Get to the point of your email asap.
6. Never, ever spam
You think this is obvious, huh? Then go and open your inbox. Perhaps I should define spam: Email your recipient did not sign up for.
7. Frequency matters
Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but it’s key to building trust with your audience. If you’re only sending out emails every 2 months, people will forget who you are or consider you irrelevant. This means you have to practice that rare art of DISCIPLINE in your work. The time you carve out to write your emails needs to be worshipped as an immoveable part of your weekly calendar.
8. Build your list from the start
I am a HUGE believer in Opt-In only emails. I don’t care how much your latest acquaintance raves about ‘loving’ your work, you still need to ask permission before entering them into your list. For one, why risk offending them by just doing it, and secondly, it’s a tremendous sign of respect that you ask, because so many don’t. Your open rate is a direct reflection on how much your list has already bought into you and what you have to say.
9. Stop being polite
A finely crafted email written in the tone of a BORING business publication is a direct road to the Delete Box. It’s ok to be controversial if you’re doing it for a REASON. Sometimes you may have to offend in order to inspire thoughtful discussion and reaction.
10. Be a friend
I’m sort of cheating here because it sounds a lot like Don’t Be Anonymous, but I’m not talking about your email address, I’m talking about your TONE. Your email subject line AND text has to be as person-to-person as possible. People have to feel like they KNOW you, or are getting to know you, from the tone of that first sentence. That will lead to the NEXT sentence, and the next… and eventually they’ll be opening all of your emails.
11. Stay current
Some topics are timeless, but it’s pretty easy to spot a stale email a mile away. Doing a product review a month after its launch serves no purpose. This may mean every once and a while you have to drop what you’re doing and get that email out the door; if you’re the first to the inbox with important, timely information you’ll have a much better chance of being read.
12. Have some fun
I’m a firm believer that a fun workplace is a productive workplace, especially if a little vino can be involved once in a while. But I digress; the point is that every email you send out doesn’t have to be chock full of knowledge. Think of your target sitting there reading through email after email of ‘can’t ignore’ information, bored to tears. Make them laugh a little. Send a fun video. Start with a joke. The levity will be a great distraction and again, you’ll be building good will.
This all sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Well, it IS. In addition to the time it takes to get into your own writing groove, you’ve got to be a creative extraordinaire — your subject line has to rock. That means spending some serious time looking for inspiration and FOCUSING. If you still think you don’t have the time to do it right, save yourself from completely wasting time and hire a copywriter.