Many of our readers are marketers who employ a variety of methods to reach their target markets. Today, I want to address one of those methods: email.
For the most part, floods are considered negative events.
Nobody likes to have their house swept from its foundation by endless rain. Or their livestock carried off by raging rivers. Or their basement full of family heirlooms transformed into a swimming pool.
Nobody likes a flood of emails either.
Marketers know that building up a solid email list is definitely a win, but the last thing you want to do is squander that win by annoying the people on your list with useless emails. Rest assured, if your email can be ignored, it will be.
All that good work you put into building a large list will only give you a bad reputation with more people.
But email marketing is still important, right? Absolutely. You just have to make it worth the reader’s time.
How do you write emails that people actually look forward to? For starters, try these four things.
1) Stop over-designing your emails.
Some things that are overwhelming to readers:
- Emails with too many images
- Emails with too many fonts and sizes
- Emails that show off every color in the rainbow
Any one of these elements might cause your reader to instinctively throw his hands across the screen as if he’s shielding himself from gamma rays. Imagine what happens when you have all three.
In a great article about keeping it simple, StreamSend points out: “People are not going to read email content that looks like it was copied and pasted from a magazine article.”
Your readers shouldn’t have to roam the carnival to find the candy corn. Instead, you should put the candy at the entrance. Or better yet, ditch the carnival completely and open a candy stand.
As with most things, simple is better when it comes to email design.
So if you’re sending a newsletter, include some highlights instead of the entire article. If you’re offering a deal, insert a link that’s large and eye-catching, and let the offer speak for itself.
The game in email isn’t to be flashy. It’s to be valuable.
2) Stop talking about yourself.
Let’s be honest.
People don’t care about you...they care about themselves. I know it’s harsh to say, but it’s true.
If your emails aren’t focused on giving real value to your list, people will tune you out.
So keep your emails focused on them. Look to solve their problems and address their concerns.
Which leads me to my next point.
3) Be helpful.
When emailing your list, make sure that you're being genuinely helpful.
Link to an educational blog post on your site. Share a great resource that you found earlier in the week. Mention a podcast episode that will appeal to the interests of your readers.
Successful marketing is inextricably tied to empathy. If you can’t understand what people want or need, your existence as a retailer or service provider is unnecessary. And people don’t need more solutions—they need better ones.
You can figure out what’s helpful by the timeless practice of putting yourself in the recipient’s position.
What kind of email would you ignore? What kind of offer would actually feel like a valuable addition to your hectic schedule?
Your answers to those questions should determine the content of your emails. It really is as simple as that
If you feel too close to your product or service to be impartial and creative, interview your customers about their interests and needs. Find someone who can give you a human reaction to your ideas.
4) Engage your readers with thoughtful questions.
If your email list is made up of business owners, here’s an idea for you:
- Ask them what they're currently struggling with as entrepreneurs
- Spoon-feed them some possible solutions (like marketing, sales, building a great team, etc)
- Use these responses to fuel your content marketing strategy
This is a great way to get a finger on the pulse of what plagues businesses -- so you can come along and offer valuable help. This tactic also allows you to respond to individuals directly with helpful resources, leaving a great brand impression on the reader.
Remember to make it easy for your readers to respond to these questions. Instead of directing them to a survey link, ask them to simply reply to the email. Make sure that the "reply to" email in your email service provider is going to an account that gets monitored frequently, and take the time to promptly respond. Your personal investment of time and resources won’t go unnoticed!
You would never ask a person to buy their own boat and paddle it across a lake just to hear you pitch your product or service. But that’s about the equivalent of what bad email marketing does.
You can’t expect readers to look past bad design, confusing and irrelevant messages, and self-centered stories to get to the heart of what you offer. That’s just plain rude, and a waste of everyone’s time.
When you row to their side of the lake—making your emails simple, helpful, and timely—you’ll wow people whom other companies are annoying.
You might even get them to like you.
Need some help when writing your emails? Click below to learn some common grammar rules that may help.