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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.

Join us for a ClickZ Webinar: Transparent CPL Advertising: The Biggest Missed Opportunity in Your Online Strategy on October 15.

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Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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