Blogs > Email – Primary Communication Tool
March 7, 2014 Michael Bickerton
I was enticed to do some updated research for a client this past week and thought that it would be valuable to share with our readers. Most are aware that we recommend and utilize email marketing as your first touch in most instances. Our promotional programs are driven by social, paid search and display ads, yet our primary driver is your email list.
Here are our initial findings and what we shared with our client for their dealer network.
Email is your primary communication tool. Email can be utilized in a variety of ways:
1. Newsletters to reach your audience
2. Email to test offers & promotions
3. Drive site registrations (ie. gather email)
4. Drive in-store traffic & sales
5. Drive online sales
Email frequency is a matter of choice, yours and the consumers. Give them the opportunity to discuss and engage and deliver your messages with regularity.
When it comes to emails, absence does not make the heart grow fonder. In fact, absence usually makes the reader forget why they signed up for your list and often gets your email chucked into the trash bin!
While you never want to spam your readers, staying on their radar while you provide great content is a huge part of keeping their interest. After all, it’s very easy to forget the value of a company’s emails if those emails are hardly around. So, here’s what you can do:
1) Find out what works. Every email list and customer group is different. Send out a survey to find out how often your contacts want to hear from you.
2) Set expectations. Let sign-ups know right off the bat how often you are going to be emailing. You can put this information right in your welcome email if you like.
3) Be consistent. Once you set those expectations, you should make every effort to keep them. If you say you’re going to send weekly, then send weekly.
4) Fill in the gaps. New sign-ups traditionally need a little bit more attention. If you typically send monthly, an autoresponder is a great way to send out an automatic mailing to give your new sign-ups some special content. That way you can keep them excited even if they have a four-week wait for your next email.
Ideas for testing:
1. Specials: the occasional one-off “high-value” email. Such as a last minute offer on a fee-based webinar to your newsletter list.
2. Benefit emails: consider adding some emails that give, but ask for nothing in return.
3. Extra messages, same email: increase message frequency, but not email frequency by piggy-backing on existing communications. For example, adding marketing messages to transactional emails or using sidebar promotions in informational newsletters.
4. Go with the season: if you’re a ski resort, up frequency when you know people plan their winter vacation.
5. Let subscriber behavior and characteristics drive frequency.
“Want your readers’ attention focused on one very important thing?”
The idea is to focus on one simple message or one central idea. Make the message easy to read, quick to review so your reader can make a decision – yes, I’ll read more and click, or no, not for me today and discard. This allows you the sender to deliver your message while respecting your readers’ time.
If there is something you consider highly important for your readers to see, whether it’s a new product you’re offering, an award you’ve won or a survey you want them to take, dedicate your entire message to that one idea.
To keep the message singly focused, it goes without saying that you won’t include any other content, just your single message. Your design should be clear, clean and easy to read. Here are a few tips:
1) If you use ads, keep them neatly in the sidebar or footer.
2) If it makes sense, illustrate with a photo – this allows you to eliminate a thousand words worth of clutter
3) Use plenty of whitespaces (blank space around your content, no matter what color your background) to help it stand out.
4) Make the call to action big, bold or both.
Crumbs Bake Shop knows that all they have to do to make sales off this email is show an image of a Christmas cupcake, with high enough resolution to show the texture of the icing and candy crunch.
We recommend that you utilize the single-focus method for most emails. This way your reader will be able to quickly decide if the information provided is valuable to them at that moment. Here are a few ideas when to use:
1. Tend to run short on time
2. Send frequent emails to the same lists or segments
3. Have a very busy readership
4. Want your readers’ attention focused on one very important thing
Depending on the nature of the message, emails can vary from a few words to thousands of words. The longer the email, the less likely that someone will read the entire thing. Long emails generally mean that a larger strategy, framework, or document might be in order. Some companies shift to using four-sentence emails and linking to longer pieces of work through Google Documents, Asana, or Basecamp (or other project management software).
Michael Bickerton, Raven5 Ltd, Oakville, Ontario March 2014 (Updated Dec 2017)
Sources & commentary
Email education and terms as provided by the IAB (internet advertising bureau)
Email best practices as provided by the IAB (pdf download)