In this series of articles, we’ll explore the best tips to run successful email marketing tips. Email marketing, despite all the options available in an evolving digital world, is still the most personal and effective way to market services… if it’s done right.
In the last article, we looked at list building. Without it, you can have the greatest content in the world but no one to read it. When you have a large list of people who opt-in to receive your email marketing, you must give them content that will keep them opening those emails so your business will continue to sell your products and services. So, what is the best content?
The Four Keys of Content
For selling products, the best formula, in order of importance, is:
Naturally, Rewards are a major factor in why people will open your emails. Coupons, discounts and upcoming sales available only to subscribers, are the driving content people want.
Some of my personal favorites are from Hobbytron.com, which sold me a radio-controlled helicopter for my kids. I now receive a daily email with a subject line of “50% off…” or some huge figure that leads me to open it to see what else I might buy my kids. Barnes and Noble booksellers, Bed Bath and Beyond and several other large retailers also send emails with the promise of large discounts and private sales. The discounts are large, the pictures of products are large and the approach is one of acknowledging my worth to them as a customer.
Information is always an important sales technique. It includes analytics of products the consumer may already have or has been considering purchasing. Likewise, updates on products, new or old, is information people desire. Information such as upcoming available products or the discontinuation of something popular, but still in demand will drive customers who have procrastinated in making a purchase. Upcoming events your business is holding will also provide insider information to those who choose to receive and open your emails.
When you connect with your customer through emails and the language is friendly, inviting, and simple, you are humanizing a method of communication many see as impersonal. Your content must be well written and speak TO the recipient and not AT them. This is why your email marketing must also entertain. A sense of humor (perhaps not for selling coffins or other dire need merchandise) will endear you to customers. 69% of customers that leave a business do so because they feel the company is indifferent to them as customers. Not that they receive poor service or the products are shoddy, but because they feel they don’t matter in the eyes of the company. They feel they are solely a wallet, handing over money and not a valued customer. Not a person.
But How Do You Entertain Readers?
Entertainment, which is important for selling products, as well as services, must grab the reader and show them your human side. People prefer buying from other people. This is why even big retailers stress customer service and why a bad experience with customer service often sours a consumer on a particular brand or seller.
An example of entertaining content was a series of opening paragraphs I wrote for a company that puts together enewsletters for car dealers across the country. They were humorous and led into the content of a particular season or service being offered in that issue/email.
Here are a few of my favorite intros:
It was one tough winter! Spring has sprung and it’s time to check under the hood for damaged tubing, fluid levels and to investigate any odd clicking, groaning or squeaks…and when you get back from the doctor, let us check out your auto for the same problems!
In this healthy issue:
When I was a kid, my uncle bought a great big, new sedan and he was so protective of it, my cousin and I weren’t even allowed to look at it. My cousin was a huge James Bond fan so he decided to use my uncle’s label maker to put labels on all the dashboard instruments like, “oil slick,” “machine guns” and “ejector seat.” Back then, those labels didn’t come off. My uncle was furious but he had the coolest spy car, driving to the military school he put my cousin in.
Top secret… in this issue:
I gave my son his first driving lesson the other day. I was concerned because he generally has trouble paying attention. After giving him a twenty minute speech on safety and paying attention on the road and to other drivers, he says, “in this video game, you can get to the next level by pushing the left and right button at the same time and…” He went on for twenty minutes. For public safety, I’m buying him a bus pass.
Speaking of safety, in this issue:
Don’t you hate when people pull into a parking space but the rear part of their car sticks into the spot next to it? There’s a company that makes realistic, fake-parking tickets with nasty comments you can check off and leave on their windshield. The next best thing to subjecting them to police brutality!
I’ve included a link below. Less pranky, in this issue:
If you’re like me, a car is an important part of your life. When autos were first mass-produced, some people bought a car instead of a bathtub. They said “you can’t go into town on a Saturday night in a bathtub!”
Today, if you own a convertible, you can do both. Let’s “come clean” with some tips for your car. In this issue:
Brrr! Have you noticed this winter has been tough on our cars, with all of the corrosive road salts and battery draining, freezing temperatures? Mother Nature should be charged with “a-salt and battery!”
Your car is the victim and we’re the fix-it police. Here are some tips for your car maintenance, so “chill” and read on! In this issue:
Who will win the upcoming Oscars? Well, at our place, your car is the STAR…without the paparazzi up-skirt shots and horrid tabloid headlines! Here’s some Oscar-winning tips for the thing that has a huge “roll” in your life. The envelope, please. And, in this issue:
I think it was either Ben Franklin or some guy from Texaco that said, “oily” to bed and “oily” to rise means you’re the first in line for the best deal on our oil change…or you need a better brand of soap! If we’re “oil” aboard, let’s slide on over to this month’s car tips. In this issue:
The ongoing assignments to keep writing these intros shows that customers enjoyed the humor and the company that markets them to car dealerships has orders for more. This means they are working, helping sales for new cars, oil changes, and other service work dealers need to bolster their business.
Some Tips for Organizing Your Enewsletter
- Have a table of contents. Reading your email newsletter should be a pleasant experience. Hyperlink titles to content so readers won’t have to scan and scroll to find a piece of content that interests them.
- If your article is long (known as “text overload”), just have a paragraph or two and hyperlink the remaining content to your website/blog where the full article can be read. Make sure you also include an opt-in call to action for anyone who stumbles upon the content through other avenues, such as a search engine.
- Your call to action has to have clear instructions and proper links. Do not leave readers wondering and frustrated – they will just click off your email/site.
- Your enewsletter should include your logo, contact information and website link. People will save issues that have some special information they believe thy will need later.
- Preserve consistency. This keeps your enewsletters recognized, expected, and more importantly, kept in the inbox or a folder set up for your company.
- Have a share function on every article so people can place it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Digg and Reddit. Let readers do your outbound marketing for you and watch the subscriptions grow.
- Show the product! Pictures are worth a thousand words and people relate to images more than words.
- Use a professional content provider if you can. They specialize in wording that will speak to the consumer. If you decide to do it yourself, at least hire a proofreader or pass it by several different people to read it for mistakes. A typo or misspelling (although too any people these days won’t notice) can hurt your brand and reputation.
- Great content can be recycled! If an article did well with shares and hits, use it again at a later date for new readers and be sure to link back to the original issue so they can read other past tips and content. Don’t be afraid of creating a “best of issue” with past content (MAD Magazine has stayed alive for decades doing issues of previous content).
- Case studies make for great content and will improve your SEO. If a client will allow you to write about their experience with your service or product, it humanizes your business and legitimizes your ability to deal with consumers.
- Ask the readers what they want to see. A forum such as this also humanizes your content and gives readers a feeling they matter and you want to listen to them. When I have writer’s block, I post a question on my Twitter account, asking followers what they would like to see. I always receive numerous requests and suggestions.
“More horror stories” is the number one request from my followers when I ask them for feedback on what I should cover in articles. The fact is, this humanizes you even more in the eyes of readers and past mistakes, written in a kind and gentle way, becomes a lesson people appreciate. When it comes to entertaining readers, it’s always a good bet to laugh at yourself!
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