In the hurry to get things done, it’s easy to just wing it with our email marketing. It’s another one of those items on the list that you know you should be doing for your business but there never seems to be the time.
So, you hastily throw a jumble of new product descriptions or worse, a laundry list of updates about what’s going on in your business – that no one other than maybe your mother will care about – in your email.
It’s part of that frenzy to push content out into the ether. No matter what.
Here’s the thing. Without a plan and some insight into what you want to get out of your emails, chances are you’ll be wasting your time creating them because they aren’t converting your subscribers into clients or shoppers.
And, the last thing any of us wants to do is waste more time and energy on busy work that doesn’t add to the bottom line.
With that in mind, here are a few concrete things you can do to start making your email marketing more effective.
There needs to be a point
This is where spending a bit of time mapping out the “why” before you start drafting that email makes a lot of sense. Give some thought to what you want to get out of this particular communication. Not every email has to be about generating a sale. In fact, only sending out promotional emails can have a negative effect on your subscribers (unless they have specifically signed up to only receive that type of email.)
Your email may be designed to foster engagement or loyalty with your brand or to provide information you’re confident your subscribers will appreciate.
For instance, I begin the process of writing emails to my list by working backwards. I ask myself, “What is it that I want people to get out of this and ultimately do after reading it?” Depending on the answer, I frame the email to coincide with its purpose.
Make it about “you” not “me”
One of the biggest mistakes that people make writing copy either for their websites or their emails is losing sight of what’s in it for their customers. Always write in terms of how your business, product or service will be creating benefit for your target audience.
This means talking less about your business achievements and more about providing value to your customers.
Take this example from Alexis Grant, a writer and social media strategist that sells informational products.
You can see from the top portion of her email, she’s addressing the concerns of her subscribers and discussing a common issue from their perspective. The reality is that people reading your emails want to know about how you’re going to help them.
Does this mean you should be leaving the personal pronouns out? No. Weaving in your own story and personalizing can go a long way to creating a connection with your customers. Just remember that this is a conversation and making it all about you doesn’t inspire others to communicate.
Cut out the clutter
When you’re not sure what to include in your email newsletter, stop yourself from tossing in everything but the kitchen sink. The newsletters that discuss the holiday open house, include information on five new products and pepper the page with social media icons and links leads to eyes glazing over.
Our brains can only process so much information at any one time. When there’s too much they go into cognitive overload. In fact, studies have shown that our short-term memories can only hold between 5 and 7 chunks of information at one time.
Cramming an email full of multiple graphics and creating dense blocks of text in small fonts, makes it difficult for people not only to glean out the most important aspects but also to remember what they are.
Check out this email from University of Minnesota and look at all the items competing for your attention.
Newsflash: People are busy and lazy. They want to scan and expend as little cognitive energy as possible.
Make it easy for them by keeping the paragraphs very short, using relevant headlines and sub-headlines to break up the content and make it clear what they will be getting out of whatever they’re investing their time in.
Have a definitive call to action
Let’s circle back to that whole, “what’s the point” idea. Ultimately, the goal of your online marketing is to create outcomes to grow your business’s bottom line. In order to do that, you need your customers to take action in some form – even if that means simply clicking through to read a blog post on your website.
It’s all about moving your customers into your sales funnel wherever their needs fit at the moment. Having a clear call to action, preferably only one, will help to do that.
As you can see in the above email, the blue buttons make it obvious where you need to click to take action. There are a couple of things that would have made this email better from a conversion standpoint.
Reducing the size of the Pinterest and Facebook buttons would help reduce distraction.
Making the button copy more specific, i.e. letting people know where the click will take them or what they will be doing after clicking, would help alleviate friction. Something along the lines of, “Start sharing my ideas now” or “Increase my karma by answering 3 questions.”
This goes back to the “don’t make ‘em think” argument. Tell people what you want them to do and then direct them every step of the way.
What have your experiences been with getting your subscribers to take action on your emails?
Let me know in the comments.