Making your email messages stand out from the clutter in your recipients' inboxes is going to be even more of a challenge this year, if marketers do as some predict and send more email in 2009 than in 2008.
Focusing on the three "p's" is a smart place to start. Conveying a distinctive personality via copy, images and design is one way to differentiate your messages. Also, your emails should clearly articulate your value proposition (the specific value provided to subscribers) and your positioning (how your emails are positioned relative to your competitors).
If you can't define any of these three Ps for your email program—or worse, if you ignore them—you'll end up with unfocused content that won't help you attain your business goals. You might also confuse or alienate your readers, which can lead to unsubscribes, spam complaints or inaction.
The Value Proposition
Your newsletter has to say more to your readers than just "read me" or "buy this product." Likewise, your email is competing with an inbox full of both permission email from your competitors and spam, all with something to push.
Your company surely has a value proposition for the products or services it sells. Your email program also needs one that reflects the corporate value proposition, but that clearly sets out what benefits it delivers for recipients.
Do you know what value your company's emails provide the subscriber? Following are just a few examples:
- First and Fast: The goal of your content or news is to be first to market. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times breaking news alerts are good examples.
- Insider/Rumors: Your aim is to provide information that no one else has—the old-fashioned scoop. TechCrunch, which covers start-ups and new technologies, is a good example.
- Analysis or Research: The goal is to provide analysis and insight on news or trends and is likely focused on depth and research on what it all means, rather than being first. The daily eMarketer newsletters are a prime example.
- Discovery: Very Short List is a prime example, or even the Costco newsletters, which somewhat replicate the "discovery" experience of their stores.
- Education-Oriented Ecommerce: This type of message uses education and resources to promote consumer purchases and loyalty. The REI emails are a good example.
- Aggregation: MarketingVox, an aggregator of marketing news, saves marketers time by compiling information from a variety of sources into a single email.
Although the goal of your emails may be to "sell more products," from a consumer perspective, what is it about your emails that would convince them to sign up or stay subscribed? Knowing your email value proposition will help you more accurately promote your email program and drive various decisions around copy style, length, type of offers, image versus text ratio, frequency and much more. If you don't know what you want your newsletter or email program to achieve, your readers won't, either.
Next up, the third "p"—positioning.