October 29 , 2002 Volume 2 Issue 21
E-Mail Marketing Principles for 2003
Recently, online, a list of 37 E-Mail principles was posted.
My daughter received a Do's and Don'ts "how to..." list from school, of 28.
At a spring direct marketing conference a presentation included 20.
Good chance at least half this combined list of 85 are dupes ... still leaving a bunch. Which are most important? Well, as Mark Twain said; "The most common thing about common sense is that it's not very common." That principle applies to E-Mail, too. Much of what follows IS common sense.
Let's get started with my current selections. I stress "current" . As these lists change. And seem to get longer - because we're still developing E-Mail Marketing direction. That's just the way it is.
Last prelim; these "common sense" ideas are about writing, so your message will be read. The common sense creative side of writing. Really, they are "how to..." principles. If your E-Mail ignores foundation marketing principles, then what follows won't matter anyway.
#1). Be Audience Relevant
"Duh" might be a good way to begin. Because your marketplace is the most important element for E-Mail marketing, too. Of course your message must be important to this audience. It doesn't need to be earth-shattering ... it must have purpose.
If your E-Mail is any good at all, sent to the right people, at the right time, with a decent offer, and gains you response, than it did its job. It's basic direct marketing. And a foundation for DM is clearly identifying the right audience. Those who are most likely to buy what you sell.
#2). Think Content
Recently my E-Mail went south for a day. Missed much coming in ... including my daily fix of E-Zines.
Many of those I really enjoy took me off their delivery list - automatically - when their message could not get through. So, I went back to opt-in. And this time I choose text over html for almost all.
There are two thoughts here;
#1). Content brought me back. Because I was gaining from the reading, I took the time and effort to sign-up again, and
#2). This time I went for speed over pretty. Meaning E-Mail is all about words.
Offer solid content to your audience - or you will loose them. And it won't take a techy failure for it to happen, either.
#3). ... and then Create a Relevant Content Subject Line
It's accepted worldwide, your subject line is key to getting your E-Mail marketing message opened.
And then there is disagreement on how to make it so. I feel the subject line should be considered teaser copy, as in direct mail. Or a headline, as in a print ad. Unless this line S T O P S your prospect reader, what follows won't matter. Your body copy can be nothing more than "X's" and "O's" , as in a tic-tat-toe game ... as it isn't going to matter.
So, two thoughts to make your subject line grab your reader;
#1). Work it, work it, work it. Do more than quick thoughts. Write it over and over, again and again - work at getting it right the first time, and then . . .
#2).Test, test, test. The beauty of E-Mail marketing is you don't have to get it right the first time. Quickly, often several times on launch day alone, you can try - translate; test - several subject lines. Do just that. Test.
Aim your news at the right people - grab them with a strong subject line.
4). Write as for All Reading
E-Mail is a read medium. So, treat it like such.
Meaning, remember the "rules" . The guidelines for getting what you write, read.
The response you enjoy will come only if the words you write are read. So, write to be read.
What this says is USING ALL CAPS is out, as it reduces readership. That a very little italics is fine - paragraphs of it are not - too hard to read. That bold is okay - again if you don't over do it. That the best way to get simple attention is with a simple underline.
Indenting paragraphs pulls a readers eye into your message - so indent.
And, until it is proven otherwise, use a readable serif type face, vs. one of the "popular" san-serifs. Why do I continue to feel strongly in this arena? Because, if what you write is important to your audience, there is a very good chance they will print it for future reading, to share with another, to file. Your words on paper are read best - meaning understood - in a serif typeface. This fact is common knowledge.
Follow these basics and enjoy more success.
#5). Short Openings, Paragraphs, Sentences & Words Work
These thoughts are an extension of the "rules".
Your opening paragraph is best at 11 words or less. Your paragraphs are more readable when they are 7 lines (not sentences - lines!) or less. When your sentences average 14 words or less, they are readable - when they get longer they loose understanding. And 70% of your words (assuming English here) must be 5 letter words, or less.
Short is in. Why do the same A rules" that apply to direct mail and print apply to E-mail? It's really very simple; because your E-Mail message only works when it is read. And these guidelines are read guidelines. Your readers eyes don't change when the medium changes. Write short.
#6). EDIT -- Edit -- edit!
E-Mail is different than direct mail and print; shorter seems to work better than longer.
The direct marketing industry has learned messages aren't long, they aren't short; they are either interesting or uninteresting. I firmly believe this. Well, this fact still holds. Please don't send me anything on gardening ... I do not garden. It is not interesting. Do send me whatever you have on motorcycles generally and Harleys specifically - as that is interesting.
Still, we've learned short - quick - fast - to the point messages appear to work better. So, edit, edit, edit. i.e, look at every word thinking "do I need this word - can I cut it and not miss it ... will my message still be clear, clean, strong, understood ... will it get the response I need?"
It's fine to write long. As long as you edit short.
#7). Know Specifics Still out pull Generalizations
Yes, this point relates to editing.
Story telling is an "in" thing today. A specific example, a demonstration of the power and value of your product and service. During the most recent United States Open Tennis Tournament numerous television commercials "told stories". The American Express series was particularly good at it.
This longer approach doesn't work in E-Mail. Stories take too long to tell - to read. So, what do you do? It's easy; you link your E-Mail to your web site "for the rest of the story" . The Paul Harvey approach. You grab your market quickly ... and pullll them in for the long haul. For the full message.
This says you can have your cake and eat it to. Be short. Be specific. Demo with a story. It works in the 21st century.
#8). The Message is More Important than the Messenger
The message is your offer. Hey, this is marketing at a minimum ... more likely direct marketing. An offer is mandatory. You don't get a choice - you gotta have one. Period.
So, relating back to content, making your offer relevant to your audience is something you must do.
Over time we've learned direct mail gives you a paragraph - maybe two - to let your reader know what the deal is. With E-Mail marketing you have a single paragraph to do the same. At least to drop the hook. You can add further details later in the message, on the link to the web page, elsewhere.
No matter how you do it - have an offer.
#9). Include an Understanding Signature
Here I tend to sway out of the mainstream. I think your E-Mail marketing signature should be as complete as your business letterhead. Your sales brochure. Your web site. It should include everything about how to contact you - and maybe a sales idea, or two, too.
A few have told me my E-Mail signature is too long. Which means they looked at it, or they wouldn't find it too long. So, is it too long? Sure, for some it is. Yet, I want you to be able to find me any way you want to find me. At any time. For any reason. I include all contacts.
Full company name, telephone, facsimile, complete mailing address, hot links to my various web sites - you get it all.
You decide what works for you - and do it.
This is enough. 9ine key points. Several with sub-points ... still, a short list. Maybe short enough to be remembered. And used as a reference tool for your next E-Mail marketing campaign.
You can bring "It IS What's Next!"
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.