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Are Your Emails Convenient?

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
22 September 2011

The other day I was waiting to check out at my local Costco and surveying the scene, thinking about the nice, healthy Strawberries Wild smoothie I was going to pick up at my next stop, the Jamba Juice up the street.

Then, I noticed up on the board in the food service area that Costco now sells gelato for $1.50 for 3 scoops in a waffle cone.

So, I started thinking. I'd have to drive a couple of blocks, get out of my car in 90-degree heat, pay $4 to $5 for that healthy Strawberries Wild smoothie, wait to get it made, get back into my hot car ...

Or, I could pay for some not-so-healthy but oh-so-rich-and-tasty gelato with the rest of my items, walk about 15 feet and start enjoying it a lot sooner than the smoothie.

Guess what I did?

Yes, I went for the convenience over health. And even though it wasn't the best choice for my waistline or my lactose intolerance, it reminded me that marketers face this kind of experience every day in the inbox, where their emails wind up intermixed with messages from competing interests.

Sometimes recipients go for the "smoothie" they had planned to buy, and sometimes they go for the "gelato" from the competition. What was it about the Costco/gelato experience that won me over?

Discovery (seeing the new gelato product on the menu board) and value ($1.50 versus $4-$5) played roles, but convenience was the major driver in my brief consideration cycle. Here's how you can apply my experience to your own emails:

Recognizable inbox "From" name: Do you make it easy for your subscribers to recognize your emails in their inbox or even junk folders? Use your most recognized brand name first. Then, you supplement it with a specific stream name, such as "Brand X Weekly Deals."

Subject line that speaks to people: Is your subject line a real snoozer? Probably, if you created it five minutes before you pressed the "send" button and it follows your same old, same old formula.

You know what I'm talking about: "Last Day for Free Shipping & 10% Off Selected Items." Now, that might actually be a high-performing subject line for you. But maybe there is something better, something that creates some intrigue without exaggerating or tricking recipients and makes your email stand out in a sea of sameness.

Easy conversion experience: Do you make the conversion experience easier than your competitors? Once you pique your recipients' interest by getting them to open your email, do you make it easy for them to take the conversion action you want? Below are a few key elements:

  • Emails are optimized for blocked images and preview panes, especially in calls to action (CTAs).
  • Emails render well on all types of devices, especially smartphones and touch-screen mobile devices. Are your links and CTAs optimized for the new mouse—the finger?
  • Message copy, layout and CTAs are simple, focused and obvious to recipients.
  • Thinking is not required. For discounted items, include the original price, reduced price, dollar and percent savings. People may respond differently to percent or dollar savings, for example—don't make them get out a calculator.
  • Messages are personalized based on the subscriber's demographics, preferences or past behavior. The offers and content literally speaks to the individual.
  • Content includes product reviews, testimonials and other user-generated content that increases subscriber comfort with a potential purchase.
  • Email content and tone is "humanized" with personality and a personal approach, making the recipient feel like they are reading a message from a friend—not a faceless corporation.

These and other tactics can help make your messages stand out against the competition—and convert an unlikely buyer into a customer.

Related Resources:
1) White paper: “Secrets of Successful ‘From’ Names and Subject Lines.”
2) Tip sheet: “10 Email Creative Tips for Boosting ROI, Opens and Clicks.”
3) Tip sheet: “Getting Personal: 5 Tips for Humanizing Content.”


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