What Does the Reader Care About?

We in the e-mail marketing industry care a good bit about “inside business” issues. These issues include elements relating to standards, reports, metrics, and templates.

But what does the reader care about? Perhaps it’s time we integrate the actual user experience into our industry best practices. Before anyone in my team can start working on designing contact strategies for our clients, we refer to this reader’s checklist to make sure we keep the most important issues in mind.

Highlights From the E-mail Reader’s Checklist

  • Know what the reader expects. Your readers gave you their e-mail addresses because they were expecting something. A receipt, a whitepaper, a newsletter, or something similar. Does the next message you’ll send give them content they expect to see?

  • Understand most readers forget quickly. In many cases, readers signed up for your e-mail list because they wanted access to something or as an impulse opt-in. If you wait too long before contacting them, they’ll forget why you were so important. Keep this in mind when timing your next e-mail.
  • Where does the e-mail take the reader in the site? Knowing how deep in the site the e-mail links your readers is critical. Copy tone and content should match the destination page pretty closely. That way, the transition makes sense.
  • Define success metrics first. Reader interest isn’t determined by the number of e-mail messages delivered. It’s derived from the click-to-open rate. Set a target before you send so you can benchmark yourself on success (25 percent is average).
  • Look at the e-mail landscape. Just because it’s not a marketing e-mail doesn’t mean the reader doesn’t receive other e-mail from your company. Being cognizant of this is key to determining send frequency. It’s not about what your company’s policy is, it’s about the reader’s experience.
  • Check out what your competitors are sending. It may not be your company’s e-mail that turns off the reader. It could be the volume of e-mail in the category itself. If the reader subscribes to financial advice e-mail from seven companies and you all send on the same day, the recipient won’t read any of them. This isn’t your fault, unless you knew about the bottlenecked delivery. But it’s your responsibility to find out what makes sense from a broader perspective.

These are just highlights from a pretty comprehensive checklist. Yet they paint a strong picture about the challenges readers are subjected to and the marketing and sending side often forget to consider. Ask yourself these questions when you plot the next strategy and see if they make difference.

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

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