Ideas for Your Next E-Mail Marketing Meeting

Getting pressure to increase email response rates? Want some ideas in your pocket when asked for suggestions on improving rates at your next marketing meeting?

For this end-of-the-summer column, here’s a look back over the past two years’ worth of columns for some ideas to take forward.

The Idea List

  • Consider an email technology specially created to meet your goals, such as lead-qualification, trade show marketing, and event registration systems. Depending on your field, you may find industry-specific technologies, such as lead-generation solutions created just for the software industry. Why reinvent the wheel when you can take advantage of another firm’s expertise in the area?

  • Try some new creative tests. Vary your creative mix with:
    • Simple, personal text email. Text email often passes through spam filters more easily and generates higher response rates.

    • Personalized images and copy. Put the prospect’s name on the white paper you’re asking them to download, for example.
    • E-mail with built-in interactive forms. Instead of asking prospects to take the additional step of going to a landing page, try this approach.
    • Product animation. I’m not talking about cartoons here, though they can be effective. Instead, consider what prospects need to see when they buy your product at a store or during a face-to-face meeting: Do they need to see how the product works, looks in motion, connects to other products? Show them in your email.
    • Online gaming. It’s popular and a great diversion from the tedium of most email prospects receive.

  • Focus on top prospects. Yes, email is inexpensive, so you may be tempted to broadcast to everyone. You’ll generate more revenue when you focus on:

    • The 20 percent of your database that produces 80 percent of your sales

    • Prospects at the top of your lead-generation pipeline who are poised to buy within the next 30-90 days

  • Explore new offers to get readers to respond today. For example:

    • One-day sales

    • Online gift certificates in small denominations
    • Premiums that tie into your ad concepts

  • Think about timing. Good times to communicate with:

    • IT professionals: 8-11 p.m. and 5-7 a.m.

    • CEOs: Weekends, when their assistants aren’t screening — and they’re checking their BlackBerry devices.
    • Target audiences: Check to see when prospects typically respond to your messages. Target those timeframes.

  • Explore different writing techniques:

    • Reverse the traditional top-down approach to writing a letter. Put the call to action at the top, and create a short table of contents of links that connect readers to the parts of your message they care about.

    • Replace copy blocks with links to landing pages that contain the copy.
    • Use storytelling techniques to pull readers in. Make sure stories are really short — more like anecdotes and sound bites — to capture limited attention spans.
    • Create credibility and reduce buyer risk with guarantees, demonstrations of return on investment (ROI), service level agreements, trial periods, and so on.
    • Test, test, test your subject lines! Then, test again. Don’t be afraid to reuse email messages with new subject lines. It’s done all the time in direct mail. Tests are done where only the envelope copy changes; everything else stays the same.

Two New Ideas

My top two suggestions haven’t appeared in any past columns, but they’re something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

When you want your email marketing campaign to really perform, hire marketing people, agencies, and freelance creatives who specialize in email. It’s no longer an art anyone can pick up. It’s a science.

Invest more marketing dollars in your email. Since email is so inexpensive to distribute and the message often only takes up one screen, many people allocate the lowest possible budgets it. The thinking still seems to be “it’s just an email.” But marketers still haven’t tapped into the unique capabilities of this amazing online tool. They’re applying too little time, budget, and brainpower.

For autumn, I’m looking to feature your best email work: the creative that really clicked, the technology that boosts return on investment (ROI), strategies that produce real revenue. Send your email samples and case studies to me!

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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