Gimmicks! Scratch-offs, removable tokens, stamp sheets, freemiums – you name it – traditional direct marketing has tested them all to lift response. So why do so many e-mail marketers use boring, static text or HTML techniques?
We can’t send three-dimensional items over the Internet, but we can create interactive e-mails that pull consumers into the message and get them to spend time considering the product or service offered. A traditional direct marketing mailing is nothing less than entertainment for recipients, directing their attention away from bills, etc. With an e-mail campaign, you want to achieve the same results and provide a little entertainment in an otherwise busy workday.
Can we assume that you have a list of recipients who will be interested in your offer? No spammers, please! And also can we assume you have an offer that is compelling and relevant to those recipients? Then half the battle is won.
Let’s get back to creative. In a traditional DM campaign, marketers need to design a package that is relevant to the consumer with an offer that is compelling. They need to convey value in the offer, promote placing the order and provide a satisfying experience to retain that customer.
A recent news release on the top 10 trends for 2005 by Web services provider Email-Labs stated, “Design will take on greater importance in e-mail campaigns. Designers will need to meet the challenges of designing with images instead of text to protect against content filters and to create differentiating e-mails that convey value and trust, drive action and retain subscribers.”
Using traditional direct marketing approaches, e-mail campaigns can be simple, responsive and results-driven.
The outer envelope, aka the subject line. The outer envelope, traditionally the storefront or store window, is the teaser that engages, creates curiosity and, with great copy, seduces to open. In e-mail marketing, this is the subject line. The subject line determines whether a recipient opens an e-mail. Keep your e-mails from screaming “irrelevant,” “spam” or, basically, “delete me.”
Your subject line and “from” line should work together. Recipients have been trained to be skeptical and leery of an e-mail from a person they don’t know. A tip is to incorporate your brand in the first part of your subject line. For example, USA Widget is offering a 10 percent discount. Just like a traditional outer envelope that conveys the offer, time-sensitive materials inside or “free gift,” so does your subject line.
Your subject line should entice, create urgency, offer value and be specific enough to send the message that if recipients do not act now, they will miss out on a great opportunity. Try to make an announcement or give news. Make the reader curious. Emphasize how the reader will benefit from opening your e-mail. And keep it short. Subject lines longer than 50-60 characters can get cut off, and you can bet they will get deleted. If you have a long subject line, ensure that the important part of the message comes first so that it creates interest. Lastly, avoid being too safe in your subject line. Just because you’re sending a monthly e-newsletter, don’t do this: “April 2005 Newsletter Issue 1, Vol. 2.” Create some buzz and get extreme: “President of USA Widgets Sees His Shadow.”
The direct mail letter, aka the e-mail body. Now we need to create content that sells, sells and sells some more. The traditional DM letter acts like the sales person in a store, describing the benefits of the product or service. In e-mail, this must be done quickly and interactively. Whether you create an in-store coupon such as the Gap and Borders Books do or an audio recently done for the TD Waterhouse Cup, you can capture interest, get prospects to your Web site or direct them to your establishment.
The TD Waterhouse audio e-mail was a mini-commercial announcing the tennis event to a qualified list of prospects. It drove interested tennis enthusiasts to the event Web site to place early orders. Spurring a quick boost in sales, “The e-mail blast produced four times more sales than our traditional print newsletter,” tournament manager Dan Nagler said.
The e-mail body also serves to start building a relationship with prospects or customers. Don’t oversell yourself. Remember that in every DM effort there is the “what’s in it for me” factor. Give prospects and customers answers to their problems, a way to make life or their jobs easier. Future contacts with them will be more responsive and lucrative for you in the long term.
Your copy should begin to develop a trusted friendship, someone your customers look forward to hearing from, getting you out of the junk bin and into the inbox.
Manage expectations. If you promise customers a monthly e-newsletter, make sure it doesn’t show up biweekly. If you send relevant, valued information to customers, they will want to keep hearing from you, but don’t over-saturate their interest. Keep them wanting more.