Clutter, competition, copy -- there are more similarities between e-mail and banner ads than you might think.
A long time ago (last century, to be exact), banners flourished on the Web. People saw them and clicked. The banner worked. Then, the great banner deluge began. An overabundance of banners caused a downward spiral in CTRs and conversions.
The banner still exists, in different incarnations. It still works, and it’s even regaining popularity. Still, some sites stack up banners like pancakes at IHOP. It’s as if publishers, desperate for banner revenue, have their own fraternity: Phi Kramma Banner.
E-mail, too, once flourished. People weren’t receiving so much email back then. They opened email and read it, they clicked on the links. E-mail worked. Then, the spam floodgates opened. Thanks to an overabundance of email, today email marketers are headed down the same slippery slope as marketers who used banners.
Banners and email are now pretty much in the same boat. Both are recovering. Recovery notwithstanding, getting consumers to respond to both is getting tougher. The commonality can be summed up in one word: clutter.
This is exacerbated with more online ad spend. Banner ad and email marketing, like just about every other form of advertising, must cut through the clutter and engage people long enough for them to hear the marketing message.
On TV, advertisers must make that connection in the first 12 seconds. In direct mail, the connection depends on the envelope message. In a print ad, the time it takes to read a headline is the only chance. So banners and email must face the same hurdles, right?
Yes, but with a significant difference. When users surf the Web or read email, their hands are literally on the trigger: the mouse. Their fingers are poised to jump to a different Web page or delete the email with a click.
It comes down to time. You’ve got very little time to make an impression and get the email recipient to read the message. Successful banner creators learned many lessons over the years about dealing with very little space and making every word count. Many of these lessons can be applied to email:
Above all, create a compelling, benefit-laden value proposition or offer. Even if you follow all the suggestions above exactly, your email will fail without a great offer. You’re competing with thousands of ads every day. In the end, the ads with the best offers, supported by smart presentations, almost always win.
Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.
Nominations are open for the 2004 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards.
Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec, Inc., a direct marketing services company specializing in customer acquisition. SendTec combines extensive direct response experience with proprietary technologies to produce scalable results. Principal services include performance-based online marketing, offline direct response marketing and direct response television. SendTec represents advertising agencies and advertisers such as RealNetworks, AARP, Monster.com, AAA, Punch Software, MyPoints, Grey Worldwide, CosmetÍque Cosmetics, Columbia House, and Euro-Pro. Prior to starting SendTec, Paul was a founder and EVP of Saatchi and Saatchi's DRTV division in New York and has over 25 years of advertising, media and direct marketing experience.
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