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March 15, 2016
The 10 Commandments of Email
 
While the too-cool-for-school crowd considers email a dinosaur, it continues to be the most universally used, accepted, and effective channel for customer interaction, engagement, and commerce. To optimize email marketing, the workhorse digital channel, a brand must stand out from the crowd and direct desired action in seconds.
 
Here are ten imperatives.

1. Start with the end. What do you want the recipients of your email to feel, think, or do? If this is a one-off effort it will work differently than if it’s part of a newsletter, club, or continuity program. Clarity on the front end will make creative development and measurement and analysis much easier.

2. SUBJ lines are everything. Experiment with subject lines and with Personal URLs. Telegraphically convey immediate value or utility. Limit the number of characters. Focus on essential words. Don’t get poetic. Be hardcore and practical. Consider symbols and emojis based on your target population. If you blow the SUBJ line, the game is over.

3. Deliver consistently. Train customers to expect certain messages at certain times (Tuesday = Bargain day). Consider a value-oriented TO address to reinforce the content or the value implicit in a consistent series of offers. Don’t be afraid to call a newsletter a newsletter; after all, people opted in to read it.

4. Avoid “one size fits all.” Segment and target customers. It’s easy to shuffle the sequence of content for discrete audience segments. Think about geography, purchase patterns, purchase values, seasonality, product cognates, and personal relevance as you dice and slice your list. Double down on responders and flush non-responders.

5. Send less better. Rather than blast a million names, do five blasts of 200,000 names. Make each segment a different offer or relate the offer to something you know about the behavior of customers in that segment. Behavior is the only real predictor of future action.

6. Work the list. Every list is flawed. Names carefully opted in by brand loyalists will perform much better than random names gathered by lead generation sites or list compilers. Use list cleaning, merge/purge, and list integrity tools. Ruthlessly dump names that bounce and chronic non-responders. Regularly append the list with data from or about purchasers and loyalists. Don’t send them offers for stuff they already bought or interactions they already did.

7. RFM rules. Peg email blasts to frequency of action. People who take a desired action are much more likely to do it again and much sooner than a random opt-in.

8. Tighten the content. Short directive copy works best. Nobody reads; everyone scans. Significant numbers of emails are read without fully opening the browser frame or on mobile devices. Load the core idea and the strongest offer and response mechanism into the lede. Think of email as an interactive postcard or billboard.

9. Limit response options. Limited number of response choices to direct action. Big, colorful, fat-finger friendly buttons work best. The more choices you offer, the less response you get.

10. Be CAN SPAM compliant. Every legit email has to show who it came from, including a postal address, and offer an opt-out mechanism. Spam filters are incredibly sophisticated. Being filtered out wastes 100 percent of your time, effort, and money. Plus, there is absolutely nothing worse that being a spammer.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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