What makes email superior?
The answer is simple, really. While email is less interesting, it will surely survive today’s current list of social media platforms. Social platforms can come and go with shocking speed. Recent news has put pressure on Facebook that would have been unimaginable six months ago. Don’t worry though, Facebook appears to be strong – at least for now. Will it be as strong in two years or in ten? Who knows! While social media platforms wax and wane, it is much more likely that email will be with us in a decade. Email may be less exciting but it has proven to be a more reliable and stable way of collecting your followers. Email has been able to stand the test of time.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all have their charms. Napster, Netscape, Alta Vista, AOL, Yahoo and MySpace also once had massive numbers of followers. They are either offline or circling the digital drain. What if you had placed all of your followers on one of these platforms? Your hard won audience list would also be circling the drain. They are too valuable to risk losing because of situations beyond your control.
Email has a power that no social media can match.
Once you have an email address you own it. It can be easily used to fuel your work in other social media platforms. If one platform changes or is for whatever reason no longer viable or appropriate, you still have your intact collection of email addresses. They can be transferred to the next new social media platform. When you combine the segmenting ability of a quality CRM (Client Relation Manager) you are able to easily store and know all of the important details about each client. You are also able to reach out to invite them to your next marketing opportunity or social platform.
You own the access to the names on your list. With the flick of a switch or a change in policy your Facebook followers could disappear. This is no small matter. Any one who has ever tried to repurpose their content into a new social media platform knows this to be true.
Remember the subject line is the gatekeeper
It won’t matter how cool, valuable or important your email is if your audience doesn’t read it. The trigger for them reading the email is the subject line. Make sure you have a warm welcoming subject that entices them to click. Don’t go overboard with this. Make it compelling. At the same time be sure that you deliver on the tease that your subject line creates. Nothing turns an audience off faster than clickbait.
Use the sender’s name in the subject line
There are many studies that show the open rate zooms much higher if you use their name in the subject line. It’s so simple to do and yet so powerful. Why wouldn’t you? When requesting their email address it is wise to request as little additional information as possible. Have you ever gone to, read and then avoided a sign up because they wanted too much information? Just stick to first name and email address. You can get more information later as you warm up your prospect.
If you don’t know their name… yet, use a default name of ‘Friend’. Virtually all email software allows you to use a default name when an actual name is unavailable. That is just a fall back position. Using a person’s own name is infinitely better than ‘Friend’.
‘Don’t touch the hot stove’ sounds like a drill sargent’s command.
‘Hey friend, don’t touch the hot stove, I like your fingers as they are!’ sounds like a kind gesture to someone you care about.
In marketing it really is true that ‘less is more’. Yes, you have a lot to say. It is also true that you can send a book-length email. Unfortunately no one will read it. Make it short, get to the point and make a specific call to action. Don’t bother sending miles of text that no one will read. Before you start your email get very clear in your mind what you want the email to accomplish. Then focus on that with a clear concise next step for your reader. Don’t leave them hanging, give them a specific call to action. Make sure that if they skip what you wrote and simply scrolled to the bottom you give them a clear next step.
Giving value comes first, requests/demands come second
People who are engaged with what you are offering are much more likely to take that next step. Train your audience that you give value each and every time you email. Their lives are already too jammed with things to do. Reading your corporate blah, blah, blah is way down on their list of priorities. It will always be at the bottom of your list. After you have written your email read it from the viewer’s perspective. Did you give them something worthwhile? It doesn’t have to be earth shaking but it must leave them with a feeling that they got something cool or important. They may not remember what you told them last week but they will remember how it made them feel.
Don’t make them guess
After providing something of value give your audience a clear easy to follow next step. Do you want them to watch a video, call your office, or click on a call to action button? Decide then focus everything in your email to get them to a place where they want to take that action. Make it super easy for them to take the desired action.
Little steps, always little steps
If you ask for too much you will get nothing. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on your first date. The goal of a first date is usually to get a second date. From there things can progress. The same thing applies to marketing. Don’t ask for too big of a commitment in your requested next action. Perhaps asking them to commit to a sales call on the first email is just too much.
Give that as an option but also give them a fall back request if that goes too far. Sales call too much? How about asking them to get a free download or watch a video? You could even just encourage them to watch for your next email. Be sure you give them a reason, something they will value. They won’t care that you are working hard on it. They will care if it provides a solution they want. It’s a delicate balance. You want them to buy but you also don’t want them to unsubscribe. It is more important that you keep them in your marketing funnel than that you push too hard too soon.
Create a consistent style
Humans like consistency. You probably go to the same store each week to buy your groceries. Part of the reason you do that is that you are comfortable navigating that familiar store. You know where to find the things you need. Have you ever had the experience of not wanting to change your grocery store because you know where the eggs and your favorite snack are located in your current store? If so, you are like most people. Use this very human principle to your marketing advantage.
Encourage your audience in the most subtle way possible – with the design of your emails. Make sure the last one looks and feels like the flow of the next email. Give them an email style that is easy to access and fun to see. Then use that comfortable style again and again with new content each time. Make them comfortable with their expectations.
Embed video into your email
While it is true that many emails can’t display video you can display a fake video graphic. When they click on the start button take them to a web page that displays the actual video. You will be able to deliver ten times more content in a quick video than in text. The video doesn’t have to be highly produced or polished. In fact, the selfie style videos are often seen as being more credible. Try this experiment. Grab your phone and walk down a quiet street. Talk your message into your phone. Then, view it. You might just be surprised how good it looks and how compelling you just made your own story.
Photos, Photos, Photos
There is a reason that Instagram has become so quickly popular. Use images especially images that feature smiling faces to tell your story. There is no better face on a website than your own. Even if you hate how broad your nose is. Even if you have always wanted better skin. Even if you wished you had kept off those 20 pounds you lost last summer! You are probably your harshest critic. Other’s don’t care as much about your looks as you do.
People want to connect with humans not unattainable professionally produced reflections of images. Avoid the overly professional highly polished, perfect looking models and photos. Look at your dentist’s website. Do you really believe those stunningly beautiful 20 year old models really had their dentures put in by the dentist! You – behind your desk – will convey more meaningful information that a cheesy photo!
Make a small shift in focus
Yes, email CAN BE powerful but only if you are mindful of what the reader will get. Too many companies focus on what they want to send out. A better approach is a mindset shift. Provide to your audience what they really want to see. That small shift in focus can transform your open rates and also your click through rates.