Silverpop - 4 Content Tips to Cure Sickly Email Marketing (part 3)
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4 Content Tips to Cure Sickly Email Marketing (part 3)

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by: Richard Evans (@rlevans)
22 December 2011

Several weeks back, we began looking at the queasy effects that poorly executed email programmes can have on recipients. Following that post, I proposed three forms of data that can be used to give you the insights you need to improve your email marketing efforts. As the conclusion to this series, I thought it fitting to offer some thoughts on how content can provide the cure to unengaging email marketing.

As we think about content in today's world, we have to expand our view beyond the email inbox and into an environment that’s increasingly intertwined with mobile and social media. So with that, here are four tips to creating content that wins in a mocial world:

1) Design for short attenti ...
According to an Oct. 2011 Nielsen study, email is the No. 1 activity on smartphones. And people use email on smartphones, more often than not, to triage their inbox. In split seconds they swipe, swipe, scan, delete, swipe, open and hopefully save your message for later. All too often, though, your email message doesn't and won't survive.

How can you combat this dastardly scourge? Design for minimal attention spans and minimal real estate. Your brand must stand out in truncated “From” names. Your offer must be immediately visible in a shortened subject line. And once opened, everything must be clear, concise, scannable and engaging—not just to convert, but to survive until the person sits back down at the computer.

2) Test until you drop.
PC. Mac. Install. Web-based. Images on. Or off. HTML. Text. AOL. (Remember when AOL had the power to have its own version?). These used to be the factors email marketers had to consider when crafting and testing a message to ensure it would render properly across a myriad of devices. Today, you have to expand that list. By multiples. Add Androids and iPhones. Small screens and custom apps. Put it all together and you now have a HUGE challenge to ensure that every email delivers a consistent experience across multiple environments.

Do yourself two favours:

  1. Begin testing each new email design relentlessly across all major platforms.
  2. Get some software to help you do it. ESPs offer embedded testing tools (call yours today to ask). You can also check out Litmus, a killer email testing app that’s not platform-dependent.

3) Fire the robots. Replace with humans.
Cyborgs be gone! Lose the marketing speak and replace it with a human voice and tone for your brand. Try using one adjective for every noun instead of thirteen.  You’d be surprised what might happen. For example ...

  • Air New Zealand’s pre-flight messages showcase a photo of a flight crew member who will be on the recipient’s specific flight along with imagery and information related to the upcoming destination. These pre-flight emails have tallied an impressive 38 percent average unique click rate, and some customers have even printed out the emails and shown them to the featured flight crew member while on board.
  • Gaylord employs a humanized service tone in its cart recovery email series, offering assistance via email or phone and reminding recipients of its “try before you buy” program. The service theme is driven home through the prominent photo of customer service representative Aaron, instantly creating a more personal feel. The result? A 50 percent conversion rate.
  • King Arthur Flour ran an A/B test in which one version of its email featured star ratings and testimonials for the main products, while the other did not. The message incorporating customer voices and a more human feel tallied a 30 percent lift in all key metrics, including total orders, sales and orders per unique opens.


[caption id="attachment_2843" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Air New Zealand, Gaylord and King Arthur Flour (left to right) use personalization, employee photos and customer voices to humanize their content and connect more strongly with customers."][/caption]

4. Connect the dots to social media.
Your email marketing messages increasingly live outside the traditional inbox. They live on mobiles. On apps. And they find new eyeballs as they are shared on social media sites. So, create content that’s enticing to share. Exclusive to its audience. And offers connections back to your email programme.

For example, frozen treat specialist Dairy Queen was looking to use email and social media to expand its fan club. To help make its promotion go viral, it offered members signing up for its Blizzard Fan Club the option of posting a buy-one-get-one-free offer to their personal Facebook page using Silverpop’s Share-to-Social feature. The result was a 30 percent growth in fan club members—nearly 1 million new members in only nine months.

Tying up loose ends, I think we can all agree that many email programmes we subscribe to create less-than-engaging connections with us. We think we can change that. By using data to better target our content and creating more human, engaging messages, we can actually earn our right to be in the inbox.


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