All About Email - The Last Word in Email Publishing

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Will you marry me?

It is a question you ask when you get engaged. Engagement leads to marriage - a plan for life, but as we know, some marriages don’t last.

Because laws dictate that we can only send email to people who have requested them, we begin the process of audience engagement by being told “I want to be engaged to you”.

So when it all goes sour, and that reader divorces themselves from your emails, the smart email marketer will acknowledge that it may well have been their fault – they failed to continue to engage.

So what are the key factors in engaging, and continuing to engage readers?
Expectation is one. At time of sign up, a reader should learn what they are going to receive, when, and how often.

Information value is another. How often do marketers send out information which they think is interesting, because they analyse it from their side of the fence, but which in reality bores readers senseless? To gauge audience value on information you send, you need to juxtapose your perspective.

Purpose is an oft forgotten or underestimated aspect of engagement. Is there a purpose to your campaign, to each component deployment? What do you want the reader to do? Have you told them that? All too often a lack of purpose, and absent calls to action mean that recipients read, then scan, then in time ignore your emails. Compelling text and images without purpose need to be very good to carry on the process of engagement ad infinitum.

I’ll talk more about engagement in the coming weeks, but remember, if you want to stay married, you need to stay engaged.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The right to reply

Have you ever received an email newsletter from an address that begins noreply@ or something similar?

It is about the most stupid thing any email marketer can do. Putting a line in your message which says reply to another address is simply not good enough, because people the world over reply to emails – by hitting the reply button.

So the address you send from should be one you expect replies to arrive at, and it needs to be closely monitored and replies acted upon immediately.

If it is not, you could be missing business

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Hurdle Race

Email marketing is a never ending hurdle race. Each deployment represents a new hurdle in continues reader engagement. But in email, if you fall, you are probably out of the race. Once you have disengaged a reader, they most likely will unsubscribe, or simply stop reading your emails.

Never estimate reader unsubscribe inertia. Most people continue to receive, and immediately delete, far more emails than they actually unsubscribe from.

So don’t think, just because you have a low unsubscribe rate, that you are engaging your readers.

Complacency is a fast track to poor results. Each stage of an overall email campaign news to be the most exciting, persuasive, engaging and fully functional. It is as if you are starting from scratch with each send out. OK, readers you have hooked may allow you a little latitude, but if you build that in to your efforts, then you will quickly let standards slip.

At Inbox we say to each and every client, before each and every mailing; “This is your first contact with these people – are you going to engage them?” Content, design, functionality, rendering etc are all checked and improved upon relentlessly in order to ensure the email does the best for the client and the recipients.

It’s called the pursuit of perfection, and in the noisy marketplace that email is, nothing less will do.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Making Images Work

I get around 30 email newsletters every day. Most have amazingly high image to text ratios. Many have no alt text at all, and of those that do, the majority have banal descriptions such as image of whatever, or even worse the image file name.

I feel sorry for the companies who are creating their own designs, or whose agencies are too lazy to learn the fundamentals of email marketing.

Whatever numbers you believe about images disabled, we all know it is a growing percentage of our databases.

So Alt Text must be used. But not just any old alt text. Plain and banal descriptions are unlikely to engage a reader enough to make them enable images. Crafting Alt Text is copywriting skill in its own right.

If images are disabled, you want compelling text which makes the reader wish to see your images. Next time you receive an email newsletter, think how you could have improved the alt text – what might make you want to see the image?

Alt Text has one other use as well - as a “hover caption” – and what better way to annotate your images and build on their marketing message?