We’ve all heard enough about how content marketing is all about video these days, and how short the consumer’s attention span is. We also know that pictures need to either jump out at you, hop onto a trending hashtag, or get sucked into the internet black hole, never to see the light of day again.
But what does this mean for email marketing? Is it dead?
It was reported that, to this very day, nearly 4 billion (not million) people continue to use email every single day – and that data is from a 2019 study. By 2023, GoDaddy writes that the numbers will ultimately climb to more than 4.3 billion people.
Yeah, it’s kind of here to stay, huh?
As a matter of fact, I’ve just discovered new online bus reservation services (for Malaysia/Singapore) via emails. Go figure. Lord knows how long I’ve been looking for a reliable way to get bus tickets online. In Malaysia, it truly sucks at the moment.
Anyhoo…back to what I was saying.
What’s surprising is the fact that email marketing continues to influence the way we perceive the world and whenever brands crack their whips. Yes, videos work phenomenally but, still, 59% of consumers say that they remember what they see in emails and it influences them during their everyday purchases.
So, where do we start?
- Ask your friends and family to sign up as your tester subscriber base
- Spread the word around
- Offer something for free; this takes time but decide on one or two methods you think would be of value to your readers and invest in something irresistible. According to research, what you offer should be worth anything from $500 to $1000 in value.
- Create a quick or an interactive game you think your target market will appreciate
- Go live on Facebook, Instagram, V Live, Youtube, or Linkedin – depending on where your customer base is
- Hold a free virtual conference
- Consistently ask, ask, ask…and ask again. But let me just add, be savvy about this. Choose the right words and ways to say it. It’s easy to piss people off on the internet.
- Create a birthday special and give them something you think they’ll remember you for
- Host a contest on social media or during roadshows you’re participating in
- Offer discounts to new subscribers
It sounds and looks daunting at first but if you have a small team of, say, two to three people, put them to this task. Let them focus a couple of hours every day of the week on building a mailing list, spreading the word, developing short free ebooks, getting in touch with people for podcasts, interviews, and conferences, or sitting down to come up with a quick interactive game for social media followers.
Without focus, nothing gets done.
The rules for internet marketing have changed a LOT but in my personal opinion, email marketing has remained pretty much the same. It’s now more personal, fancier, shorter, more visual, and also catchier than before but you don’t have to start from bare basics to get email marketing to work.
Here are some ‘new rules’ laid out by Campaign Monitor you might want to check out.
Don’t People Delete More Emails than they Read?
Yes, they do. But this does not mean your emails are not going to be read…not the ones that matter and makes sense, anyway. And don’t be a spammer. Start off on the right footing by being a responsible emailer and get on the ‘good’ list.
If you know what makes your consumers, readers, and fans tick, cater the emails to their liking. Set the right tone of voice and help them see that you have something to offer them.
Frankly, I am a reader. Words work better on me than graphics, but that’s just me. The world, however, has changed and many people prefer short, concise, eye-catching, to-the-point emails. I feel more connection to emails that are more personal and speaks to me. Just me. If an email was to be too ‘promo-y’, I find myself mentally switching the lights off.
But here’s what the world has to say about what continues to work for them when it comes to emails.
There are only a few ways to be really effective as an email marketer:
- Be visual – keep it short, simple and easy to scan. This requires minimal writing and almost zero personalization. It works.
- Be personal – As in ‘Hey there, here’s Bob again. I emailed you last week (as promised) and gave you a whole bunch of stuff that I found on the internet that piqued my interest. I hope they were interesting to you too’
- Branding – be funny, encapsulating, and hard to ignore. Offer them something good QUICKLY without wasting any of their time because you make it clear, right off the bat, that it is a promo. People appreciate the fact that you’re not wasting their time. For you, this also means you’re (kinda) skipping over those who are half-half. You can target those a little later.
- Make it fun and useful – I am sure you’ve seen those quizzes on Facebook or Twitter. They are often something entertaining like ‘take this personality quiz and we’ll tell you how you’ll fare as Ironman’. When you’re done with the quiz, they don’t tell you the results right away. Instead, they ask for your (no, not your phone number or home address) email address so that they can email the result to you. Chances are, YOU’RE GOING TO READ IT. First off, you’re interested in it, that’s why you took the quiz. Secondly, you’ve invested your time and effort in completing the quiz and you’re not about to dump the whole thing into the cyber scrapyard. You’re at least going to have a glance at it before deleting it. Better yet, if it’s really fun and relevant, you would want to share it with your friends and family on social media. Double win.
- Make it mobile-friendly – I can’t say it enough because Google and marketing experts have been saying this only thousands of times over. The sale of desktop computers have been dropping like day-old flies and people are counting less and less on their personal computers (including laptops) to read their emails. (I am the last few in this world to actually read stuff on my computer AND PRINT THEM OUT on paper just to read important emails – I am a relic). So, whenever you’re rolling out your email marketing campaigns, do double-duty to ensure they look great on most mobile phones. And just for kicks, consider this fact – 54% of emails are now opened (read, deleted, or saved) on mobile phones. The point is that if a marketer is not bothered to make their emails suitable for my mobile phone, it doesn’t deserve their customers’ precious time and effort.
- The headline should always, always be accurate – Clickbait headlines might sometimes work on Youtube videos and some articles, they work only once or twice with emails. And that’s because of an old adage that continues to ring true today – trick me once, shame on me. Trick me twice, shame on you. Whatever is enticing and accurate should come within the first few words you use as your email headline and title.
- Run an A/B test. Before you roll out the carpet out for real, run a quick A/B test. Most email service providers let you do that and provide real-time reports. Based on the test results, decide on the template and oil the engine to make sure the rail is really to roll. But still, nothing is set in stone. Be on the lookout for trends and changes – hey, it’s the world of the internet. We’re always talking to minute-by-minute and day-by-day changes, so, keep your eyes wide open for them. Frankly, there’s no shame in starting small. Say, with an email template demo. You’ll start compiling and digesting feedback, reactions, and effectiveness…and we’ll go on from there.
- Understanding that every audience is different. Whether they buy from you based on your Instagram ad, or finally pay up for what’s in their shopping cart after the 16th email or notification, they’re all different. The point is to understand what makes them tick. What was it that finally drove them across the border.
To some, this may come as a surprise but emails are nearly 40 times more effective than other social networks which includes the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The reason is simple – although it’s easy to delete an email, it’s much easier to scroll past something on social media. Unless someone hits the ‘select all’ and ‘delete’ function in their email folders, chances are, they’re going to read the headline or have a look at who the sender is before deleting.
That slight pause is everything.
Lead your readers and customers to a good landing page
A lot of things may have changed over the years in internet marketing, the same stage is set for big AND small businesses on the internet, but one thing’s never changed – the effectiveness of a good landing page.
In online marketing, a landing page has one purpose and one purpose only – to get a reaction, capture a lead, a destination page that propels people into action. It’s a static page with a clear purpose.
“Sign up for my newsletter”
“ Complete this form and get a free ebook”
“Here’s a coupon code”
“Take this quiz”
Most of the time, people chance upon landing pages from ads, external links, social media sites or search engine optimized pages. Did I leave out emails? Yes, I did. Emails.
Instapage has a rather good list of landing pages they like, so, go ahead and have a look at them and decide if you want to create one on your own or hop onto their trial run.
Sometimes, to keep your emails short, you create a couple of landing pages with different plans and in that email, you point your customers/readers to the right landing page. This way, it won’t confuse or irritate them.
It’s You…and Me, Baby
First, you want to start sharing and introducing yourself, so, using the word ‘I’ and ‘me’ is absolutely important. Even if you’re a big brand company, ‘we’ is often less effective. It gives that brand/company/product a personality, a name, and someone, a face, they can possibly connect with.
And of course, without a smidgen of doubt, the word ‘you’ whenever you’re talking about your customers should be repeated as many times as you can. When used with a Call to Action (CTA), the word ‘you’ is extremely powerful and makes a lot of sense especially if you’re trying to connect with your readers.
Emails, just like a website, are often quickly divided into two groups – one is ready for the trash, the other is ‘TBD’ and eventually ‘opened’. By using the word ‘you’ in your headline and email, you increase the chances of the email being opened and read!
If you don’t believe me (and have some time to spare), scan through this page written by Gary Halbert. It may have been written in 1986 in old-school telegram or penpal style but tell me whether you think it is a hit or miss.
Be Real. Be Raw
I know this is a biggie. It’s a hurdle that many people have yet to climb but based on research, the more personal, real, and raw you are with your emails, the better the response.
Real story alert: Gone are the days that I spend a huge chunk of my money on beauty and fashion magazines but I was, one day, flipping through a beauty and fashion magazine at the newspaper stand out of boredom. I was flippant about it but it was the Editor’s Letter that caught my eye and brought me to the counter to part with my hard-earned cash.
She first explained that it was a tough year for her because a relative was going through therapy and another was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Life sucked her into a vortex of an unknown world and she found herself gravitating towards health, lifestyle, the importance of balance, acknowledgment of the people around her, the presence and appreciation of good people who are either your family, friends, relatives or close family members.
She told us in her Editor’s Letter that she felt vulnerable for the first time in her life and this issue of the magazine is dedicated to those who were also going through a tough time.
She did not make herself out to be a victim, that’s a brownie point. She shared her experiences and thoughts with no holds barred. That’s brownie point number two. She was also encouraging and positive despite the things that were happening to her and her family. That’s enough brownie points given to make me buy the entire magazine just based on that Editor’s section.
It also hammers home another point: People don’t buy from brands. People often buy from people.
I am not saying we should all tell the world about our earth-shattering menstrual cramps and the untimely death of our favorite Bluetooth speaker in every email but the way it was written made me feel like she wanted to share something with me, it was something that could be of help to me either now or later on in life. It had the potential of saving me time, give me new perspectives, and understand the flip side of a coin I’ve never seen.
In short, she made a connection.
Use persuasive words
Ask yourself a very simple question – who would you trust more, your friend or Nike telling you that its shoe rock?
In a linear thinking world, the answer should be your friend (but it’s OK if you really love Nike, you do you!) so, there is a certain way that your friend speaks to you that is completely different from how brands talk to you when they’re trying to sell you something.
The most persuasive word in an email is ‘free’ because everyone loves free stuff. The truth of the matter is that when your friend tells you something is free, there are no doubts whatsoever that your friend is saying it because she/he really wants you to share the good stuff with you. On the other hand, if McDonald’s says the same thing, you cock an eyebrow.
Use the word ‘free’, however, only when it is ABSOLUTELY so, no strings attached. Sure, you’ll get the kind of superstar attention from bargain hunters who will probably never buy ANYTHING from you now or in the future, but there is a chance that someone is looking for samples of your products/services because they’re genuinely hunting for something to add value to their life/work.
So, if I were you, I’d use it liberally but intelligently. Spend some time learning up about compassionate, subtler but more effective pull marketing via content instead.
If you’d like to read more about persuasive words to use in your emails and newsletters, Copyblogger broke down to the top five English words to use in email marketing.
Personally, I reeled back a little at the little ‘small $5 fee’ experiment.
When the eCommerce store told its customers that the shipping fee was a ‘$5 fee’, savvy and frugal customers were a little wary of paying for it. Things changed up by 20% when the word ‘small’ was added to it!
So, instead of saying ‘$5 shipping fee’, people felt less pain in buying stuff from the store when they changed the wording to ‘a small $5 shipping fee’.
Copywriting and marketing is science. Nah, it’s actually just common sense. #lol
As I wrap up this article, there is a sizzle reel of things I think we can do now or in the future to enhance email marketing. Why? Because while social network is amazing, we don’t really own all of that.
Facebook can choose not to show your content if you don’t pay for it. Instagram could (I pray not) shut down forever tomorrow. Your WordPress blog could disappear overnight. Google can ban you for not meeting their new ‘standard guidelines’ for your website…like tomorrow and not warn you about it or show you how to avoid the catastrophe.
The proof is in the pudding that although people (your subscribers) might come and go over time, you own subscriber base. So, I think we should continue to trudge on and find ways that work with our customer base through email.
In the nutshell:
- Be visual
- Get on videos
- Ask your friends and family
- Give something of value
- Be a good, responsible emailer
- Don’t waste your customers’ time
- Make it fun and useful
- Make it mobile-friendly
- Headlines are so, so, so, so, so, important
- Understand that every audience is different
- Emails are 40% more effective in closing sales than any social networks
- Spend time and money on good landing pages
- Use the right words
- Be real and raw
- Use the right persuasive words
Don’t forget to send your emails at a time you think your potential customers are more likely to open and read your emails. That’s worth a whole new article so I’ll wrap this up and wish you all the best in your email endeavors!
Side note: I am currently employed by a Malaysian FMCG company, running and promoting their products full time and I am loving the challenge!
This, however, does not mean I am going to give up learning new stuff. I am not going to stop blogging, writing, and sharing the things I (think) I know. So, expect more articles from me in the near future.
Let’s make Internet and social media marketing, SEO, and content marketing, email marketing, or even building a website easier for people who need it. I see it as my mark on this planet and have dedicated my life to doing this…and I am not giving it up.
If you have something to add, feel like I am wrong on some stuff or left some points out, please let me know. And also, if you spot grammatical errors, I will be eternally grateful to you if you let me know so that I can get them edited ASAP. I can be reached at marshamaung at Gmail.
See ya later!
Happy Writing and Marketing,