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A Love/Hate Affair With E-Mail Marketing

  |  October 13, 2008   |  Comments

Knowing what people do with e-mail pitches can help your campaign's success.

Last week, I did a Webinar with the Email Experience Council in which I shared some very interesting research from a Harrison Group study conducted with digital publication readers. (You can see the study results here.)

A key finding was that people enjoy digital ads more than print ads. That's because digital ads allow them to engage with the products and services they see, on demand. I thought this was a very interesting statistic and could possibly be a reason that e-mail marketing is still such a successful medium for us today!

Think about it: in most cases, a marketing e-mail is intended to be pretty. It strives to include compelling copy that makes you want to engage with the copy and imagery to move once step closer to a purchase or relationship with the company that sent it. If an e-mail's successful at its job, it garners a click, a sign of engagement, and success. Even when people complain about e-mail, they secretly love it, because it offers them immediate access to products or services when they're in the mood. The love/hate relationship people have with e-mail can be compared to the love/hate relationship people had with J.R. Ewing from the television show "Dallas" back in the 1980s.

When building an e-mail marketing strategy, you must remember that people will have this love/hate relationship with whatever you send to them. You'll never be able to please all the people all the time. That's why your e-mail program approach must remain consistent with your brand strategy and include both multiple touches and multimedia integration.

When people receive your e-mail, they do one of five things with it. Knowing what these are when you plan your campaign can help you be much more successful in the future:

  • Save it in the inbox for future reading. They just won't have time to get to it now, but they intend to read it later. Make sure that your content isn't dated or that the subject line clearly indicates an expiration date.

  • File it away for a rainy day. Not in the market for flowers right now but may need them in a few months? That's exactly why e-mail file folders were invented. Remember this in case your company overwrites landing-page content.

  • Read it now and click through, but save it for future purchases. This is the death trap of e-mail. If you engaged people enough to click but not convert, you'd better have a follow-up e-mail en route to remind them (within two days) to come back, or you've lost the sale.

  • Delete it. Sad but true. Fifty percent of the e-mail you send will be deleted, even if recipients are your best customers. Remember this (and the "three times" rule from my last column), and ensure you repeat and represent important information in a future e-mail.

  • Read, engage with, and enjoy it. While this may seem like success, it's short-lived -- unless you have a strategy to maintain reader engagement.

No matter how we try to evaluate and dissect e-mail marketing strategies, sometimes we just have to go back to Psychology 101 and remember that our audience is made up of plain old humans, like you and me, who love things one day and hate them the next. Keeping that in mind will help you keep a grounded approach to your e-mail marketing strategy. And, if you're lucky, it will also give you a leg up over your competition.

Jeanniey is off this week. Today's column ran earlier on ClickZ.

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Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen, a recognized women-in-business and tech, is known for her entrepreneurial style and her ability to build, shape, and grow brands into well-known dominant, successful entities. Jeanniey is a pioneer in email, mobile, and digital marketing; publishing; and brand-building. She now leads her own agency, YellowBean LLC, focused on assisting companies of all sizes with driving innovation and growth. Most recently, Jeanniey was the Global EVP, CMO, and subsequently Chief Growth Officer for Zinio, where she worked to define and implement strategies creating explosive growth through strategic partnerships with publishers, technology companies, brands, and consumers during her five-year tenure. Jeanniey has authored and contributed to multiple books, blogs, and magazine articles. She is a regular columnist for ClickZ, a blogger for Huffington Post, and a frequent keynote speaker. A serial networker, in 2005 Jeanniey founded the Email Experience Council, which was sold to the Direct Marketing Association in 2008. She sits on the Advisory Board for IndieFlix, and on the International Executive Council of the Internet Marketing Association. Jeanniey is recognized as both a Top CMO and Top Author on Twitter, and was most recently featured as Mover and Shaker by the Professional Woman's Magazine, and a featured Woman in Technology by The Legacy Series Magazine.

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