An outsider’s view (more or less) of email marketing

Some time ago I noticed Maria Pergolino’article Reactivating your database – Key steps to getting your leads to re-engage. (Nov. 2012)

Now I’m sure Maria knows more about email marketing than I do. I’ve just started emailing newsletters as a part of my current job and I have only a vague notion of who the recipients are. Fortunately I’m learning as I go, so I’ll hopefully leave the stage of “random acts of marketing” behind me (term probably from @PamMarketingNut).

Spot your customer (butterfly playing hide-and-seek with birds)

Spot your customer (butterfly playing hide-and-seek with birds)

What works in email?

Despite my wafer-thin layer of experience in sending bulk emails, I’m at the receiving end of a number of email campaigns and I can say a couple of things about what works and what doesn’t in emails:

  1. Regular but not-too-regular updates via email are fine. If you sell good stuff at your store (we’re talking clothes here) you may expect your emails to be opened every once in a while.
  2. Your emails will get more attention if there’s genuinely interesting information in them. A bit of a no-brainer, unless you think providing only the smallest possible amount of information will trigger me to visit your website. It won’t.
  3. The right frequency is a matter of balance. Having to delete offers I’ve missed does not motivate me to buy anything from you. Getting several emails about a collection I can’t check out (no time) doesn’t work either.
  4. Some people don’t shop online for clothes. If they happen to live five minutes away from the shops and a lot of clothes aren’t the right fit they will visit your shop. And please, don’t expect anyone to print a discount offer you emailed to take with them to your store. (Does this still happen? If not, it’s because it was a bad idea.)
  5. Good subject lines work, but the actual email should deliver on the promise the subject line makes. Is this an open door? I hope so.
  6. Emails specifying there is only one day left for your special discount may work for students or single lads and ladies. Those of us with a husband and/or kids and a job won’t react so positively – unless you provide day care for the kids (husband).*

*I know – I’ve seen – parents do their version of parenting while jabbing at their phones or talking loudly about their day to an unseen friend.** Wondering where your kids are (in trouble) while trying on a new pair of whatnots doesn’t really work either (it derails any attempt at making a sensible decision).

**It’s not always what you think though. I had someone stare at me accusingly – someone who needed explaining that I was entering our appointment for a new passport into my calendar. I might have been messaging to my friends – but I’m just not that rude (unless people start staring at me accusingly).

Good in email (I think)

  1. Send them when they’re useful. You can have too much of a good thing.
  2. New collection? Fine, but make sure to add all the available colors/sizes/styles. Don’t just feature the most fashionable items and colors, especially if they’re oversized sweaters in pastels (the 1980’s were gruesome).
  3. Depending on your audience, send a reminder at least half a week before the end of your discount campaign. Some of us have meetings we can’t skip (well, we can, but that’s just the start of our problems).
  4. If you know where your customers are, use that information to improve your emails. Not as in “I know where you live” (I read a blog post some time ago about an email that got creepy) but you might shift your call-to-action according to what you think you know. If they live around the corner, “come check our web shop now” may not be a relevant trigger. Or it may be. It all depends on your customers.

Do you have any do’s or don’ts for email (marketing)? Any great or not-so-great experience with calls-to-action?

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