All About Email - The Last Word in Email Publishing

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Most email marketers pouring money and databases down the drain

Yes, we are in recession. Yes, it will get worse, and yes, more companies are turning to email to market their way out of it.

Is it working?

Well, based on the stuff that hits my inbox, probably not for most of them.

There is still a fundamental lack of understanding amongst many so called email marketers about how best to use the medium. Email advertising doesn't work per se, yet it remains the staple format of what is being sent out.

To make email work as a marketing medium, there are some golden rules that need to be applied:

1. Email is a unique medium that offers a uniquely direct and personal form of communication - so make your offers unique to email - show the value in communicating by email.

2. Be clear about what you want recipients to do, and how to do it. Drowning a sales message in a whirlpool of unnecessary marketing fluff simply disguises your message.

3. Limited offers in limited numbers is a formula that works. Few people will buy all 20 of your special offers in one go, but if they are only offered 2, they might buy one, which leaves 18 more to make similar impact over the next 9 weeks.

4. Most companies use marketing to sell what they want to sell, but you must remember to give buyers reasons to buy. Demand comes from a number of factors - need, availability, price - underline these so a buying decision is an easy one. Emails that simply say here are our cheap offerings this week are treated as companies trying to shift the unsellable.

Understanding the basic principles of email marketing is not rocket science. Getting them right does require a little more thought and intuition, but ignoring them is simply wasting time and money, and right now that seems to be what the majority are doing. What a shame.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Not a good look?

What makes a great email design? It is an increasingly complicated question. So many different email clients with different rendering protocols. So many different approaches – do you replicate printed media designs, optimise for email or what?

When designing a template for a client, it is important to explain that you cannot please all of the people all of the time – if you want to, then forget Html, use plain text.

We use Html because it enhances branding, it creates a visually appealing environment for your copy and because it allows us to gather metrics.

The golden rule is simplicity. Let your content lead your design, not vice versa. Unless you don’t care about 40% of your audience. That’s the harsh reality of it. Some marketers are happy to sacrifice nearly half their recipients in order to send a print style design through to the remaining 60% - big images with overlaid text everywhere, usually unsupported by Alt text. Or with the most pitiful stuff behind it (image of fish etc).

I believe that people respond to email because of what they read. But images can be a factor in deciding whether to read it or not. So can rich text. So Inbox always lets copy lead design.

But until the impossible dream of standardisation occurs, the design vs rendering conundrum will remain a challenge – an increasingly hard one to win.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Out with the old.....

Feeling the recession yet? We did, last week. A long standing client decided they could o better and cheaper themselves, and I quote: "we can access bulk email technology at less than half the price".

I bit my lip and thanked them for their business.

Of course they can access bulk email technology cheaply, just as you can sell the Merc and buy a Skoda and save a few bob. I know the technology will be poor, and I know also, rather sadly, that they do not have the knowledge and skills in house to use it to best effect - that's why they paid us rather more.

Inevitably in a recession, people will look to save money, and often will sacrifice quality in so doing.

The irony is that the 5 new clients we have already picked up this year are upping their spend to sign with us - because they want email to work for them, and have realised that their self-managed, cheap bulk email technology is not producing the goods!

Of course it is sad to lose a client you have spent 4 years developing a professional and effective email communications campaign for, but at the end of the day, if you are sacrificed to cost, they probably attached little value to what you did for them, and losing them was an inevitability at some stage.

So, 2009 is one out, 5 in, and all for the right reasons. Plenty to smile about, and plenty of new clients to do a great job for.