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Lessons From Google Alerts: Consistency

  |  September 13, 2010   |  Comments

Do your e-mails follow the same four consistencies in timing, headlines, format, and actions that Google Alerts e-mails do?

Every once in a while, you learn something unexpectedly. This time, my latest lesson came from good old Google. Not from its new priority inbox, and not from any new service it launched. This lesson came from Google Alerts.

I am a Google Alerts addict. I use it to track my professional exposure, company news, competitors, and industry elements in general. It works like it was meant to: headline, teaser copy, and a link. In most cases, I scan them and move on. I rarely click.

But recently, I found myself reading an article that came into my Google Alerts on "digital magazine" from Clutch Magazine. The headline of it was "Should Black Men Blame Jesus Too?" The article turned out to be a very interesting review of the reasons the African American culture has a high incidence of single people. It had such interesting snippets that I ended up reading some of it out loud. Apparently being single used to be a black woman's challenge and now, it has become quite even for men and women.

After I got over this article's content, I started to think about what lessons an e-mail marketer could take away from Google. Here is what I ended up with – consistency :

  1. Consistency in timing: With Google Alerts, you can be assured your opt-in requests will come as you request them - once a day, as it happens, or even once a week.
  2. Consistency in headlines: While every Google Alert covers a different topic, the way that the headlines are written are consistent - brief, powerful, and enticing.
  3. Consistency in format: You really need to keep the layout the same, so people who enjoy scanning your content can still feel fulfilled.
  4. Consistency in actions: I know that if I click the link, I will go to the article.

When I took the time to compare these to e-mail campaigns sent by some of the best campaigns out there, I was surprised. So many of us don't adhere to these four C's in e-mail. Messages carry different formats, layouts, instructions, and other elements that cause our readers to experience 4 C's of their very own: confusion, concern, conflict, and even contempt.

Take a few minutes today to set up a Google Alerts if you never have. And if you have, check out the next one that comes to you and compare it to your e-mail program. Which set of C's are you offering your consumer?



Jeanniey Mullen

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

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