Is Your Email Marketing Working?

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iStock_000015903504XSmallThere’s a lot of email floating around—and because of that, email marketing gets only a fragment of your audience’s attention. Keep it brief and attractive to maximize its effectiveness!

Does this sound familiar?

You’re spending lots of time developing story after story, crafting lengthy emails whose unique content you’re proud to get out there. Hell, you’ve spent hours on it, so someone’s gotta be reading it. The truth is: you’re probably doing too much.

The value of email marketing is that you can directly reach your audience. However, no one likes to read gobs of electronic content. If your email is too long or jam-packed with stuff, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. Over time, people will simply lose interest in reading it, leading to decreased numbers of Opens and Clicks but increased Unsubscribes. Sound familiar?

Services-Based Businesses: The Multi-Purpose Approach

Behance Email CampaignFor services-based businesses that typically send out one multi-purpose email, the Behance model is a great one. Their May 10, 2011 email newsletter balances photography and copy, blog posts and articles, product promotion, and social media.

What makes it effective?

  • By excerpting the copy in a “teaser” format instead of putting the entire story in the email, this approach brings people in droves back to their website to read and comment on blog posts, learn more about their products, etc.
  • This teaser format also makes it so that they can put more content in the email because they’re not trying to fit so much copy into the layout in an attractive way (which is plenty hard to do).
  • Most of those individual sections link back to existing content on their website—blog posts, product pages, article pages, and more. By repurposing their content, developing their newsletters takes much less time than if they were writing multiple stories of unique content every month.

Retail Businesses: The Product-Centered Approach

Apple Email PromotionIt’s better to send promotional emails more frequently and have them be organized by theme/season than to try to pack too many products into each email. What sounds like it will take more time will even out in the end. Model your campaigns after a successful company like Apple.

Why does this layout work?

  • The real focus is on the products themselves and on a specific feature of those products (i.e., the iPod Nano can shoot video; you can play games against your friends on the iPod Touch). They’re not trying to pack every detail about the product into a little email promo.
  • They’re keeping the use of copy to a minimum. In fact, in most cases, they only use copy to explain what the product shot shows.
  • The minimalist design keeps your eye moving down the layout because it doesn’t feel overwhelming or dense. They use white space effectively.

Person-to-Person Businesses: The Human Approach

Constant Contact TemplatesMany years back when email marketing was first introduced, company emails resembled a printed newsletter: super-long, text-heavy, and dense.

Unfortunately, a lot of templates offered by companies like Constant ContactAWeber, and Vertical Response continue this dated tradition. If you manage your own email marketing, you probably use one of these templates because it “serves the purpose” and because you see so many others doing it too. But you still have to do some self-editing to keep those articles short!

If you’ll notice, many of those templates might feature three separate article areas, each about 200 words. What they typically don’t show you is what should be there: Read more. Similar to the Multi-Purpose Approach above, link readers back to your site whenever you can, repurpose your content, and keep that email brief.

One Last Thing

You may think, “As long as I have an email marketing presence, that’s all that really matters.” Trust me, it isn’t. Too many times, business owners will just throw something together without thinking of the person on the other end. Just as a disorganized website reflects poorly on your business, so too does your email marketing. Just think: It might be the first thing a potential new customer will see.

It’s worth it to plan ahead when it comes to email marketing. Spend just a couple hours to sort out what needs to be there in long versus short form, how you might use imagery to balance copy blocks, and where white space might be employed. Think about how you can creatively feature your products and services, and how repurposing your content can drive people back to your website. With minimal time and effort, this powerful tool can do wonders for your business.

About Sarah

Obsessed with order and driven to help you succeed in whatever you do to make the world a better place, I work tirelessly to keep you motivated, inspired, and informed about the worlds of branding and marketing. Read more about Enve or check us out on Twitter.