The Psychological Hierarchy of the Email Campaign

The relationship between the email marketer and the email subscriber is an unspoken alliance, and also a source of constant tension and potential. The email marketer owes her job, database, and likely revenue to the subscriber who provides permission in exchange for (hopefully) special offers, content, and respect and relevancy. The email marketer often loses sight of this invaluable permission during the march to some interdepartmental meeting or shared goal.

Too often the email program becomes focused on the business objective and loses sight of the email subscriber. Without her, the email program is worth nothing. It is just an ad buy to eyeballs versus a targeted message to people who asked for targeted messages. That’s the secret sauce of email, and once you lose sight of it you head down a slippery slope.

Where the challenge needs to meet the reality is evidenced in this graphic created by my talented colleague.

interaction-hierarchy-pyramid1

Each of these stages on both sides of the aisle are key – B2C, B2B, marketing automation, or batch-and-blast. It’s the DNA to a successful email program, so let’s review the path to success and inbox delight.

The Inbox

Your first chance to get noticed is often driven by your from line or maybe subject line. A busy consumer may be more on the lookout of what to delete or save for later. Mobile compounds this, so if you don’t stand out you likely won’t get read.

Open/Read

While there is brand awareness level and the power of a delayed purchase due to email, you want your email to be read and opened. Duh! Subscribers likely will scan your message that might have taken weeks to craft in mere seconds. The key is to make it clear what the value is for the subscriber, not your marketing goals.

Click

Moving up the pyramid and into subscribers’ psyche, the email needs to win their attention and gain their expressed action – in many cases a click. A subscriber is demonstrating their intent and that’s a significant goal of any marketer. If the call-to-action is buried, not mobile-friendly, or lacks clarity, you will lose this opportunity. Make it easy and the path clear.

Buy/Conversion

We aim to not just convert our subscribers but often surprise and delight them. An email subscriber is a VIP by virtue of providing permission, but many marketers fail to deliver the goods. Whether a special offer, unique content, or just something cool (and on brand), add something to close the deal and further incent the subscriber not only to buy but possibly to share her advocacy for your brand, service, or product.

A perfect email is often elusive but making sure your message lines up with these components and subscriber psychology is essential in today’s crowed inbox. Your subscribers have let you in to this coveted space so make the most of it!

This column was originally published August 22, 2013.

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