How to keep yourself relevant in today's headlines

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We all know that e-mail is a powerful tool that allows marketers the unique ability to reach potentially millions of people with a single communication. However, to be effective, marketers need to employ cleverness in their content, relevance in their offers and a certain technical facility in the mode of transmission. Ultimately, the bottom line isn't measured by how many people you reach, but rather how many people reach back to you.

Compelling content can inspire the much sought-after clickthrough and conversion, but I want to focus on a particularly clever bit of subject line wizardry that I think should inspire us to think about how we are going about this thing we call marketing.

Macy's recently ran a “Hot Summer Sale & Clearance.” This is nothing new; I've been reading their sales notices for years. However, what caused me to do a double take was the subject line that they used this time: “Keep your car parked at home — clearance items ship for just 99 cents.”

Let's think about this very carefully. We are in a world where fuel costs have soared and show no sign of abating. The Internet as a marketplace has always afforded us the luxury of shopping from the couch, but is the convenience of online commerce just a convenience or a cost-saving necessity in today's market?

Macy's apparently thinks saving money on fuel is so important to consumers that they used it as their subject line for the final three days of the sale. The initial carrot here is not the 20% to 65% savings that the body of the e-mail promotes, but rather an instant savings on something that's a hot-button topic in the elections; a pain shared and felt by everyone; and an indispensable commodity that holds sway over our daily lives: the price of fuel.

Is it possible that e-commerce will grow due to the cost of getting around? This is the philosophical question that underlies a more immediate question: How do marketers make way for their products and services in a time of economic difficulty?

Every day, people are assaulted with a cornucopia of news stories around rising prices, especially with energy, fuel and food. Clever and contemporary marketing should suggest that an effective campaign is not only creating appeal, but the ability for a product or service to have a multifaceted cost benefit to the purchaser; that is, “How can I spend money to save money?”

Marketers that answer this question and position their products to imply cost savings in a place that a consumer may not expect stand to not only win the hearts and minds, but more importantly, the wallets of people somewhat more hesitant to spend frivolously. 

The take-away is this: Make your content not only relevant, but relevant in the bigger context of what is going on in the world around you, and more importantly, your consumers. By connecting your offers with the average consumer's needs, your digital missive will not only serve you, but you will be serving your end clients in more ways than one.

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