Nine Great Ways to Fall in Love with Email Again

Nine Great Ways to Fall in Love with Email Again

"Email. It’s “antiquated,” always on the verge of dying and if you ask what the internet thinks of email marketing you will find that 74.9% find it negative. Yet 66% of B2C marketing professionals still maintain that email is the most effective channel to reach and engage customers. Our job as email marketers is to continually drive engagement and grow this high ROI channel. This Valentine’s Day let’s get back to the basics and take a look at nine great best practices we can follow to fall in love with email again."

Email. It’s “antiquated,” always on the verge of dying and if you ask what the internet thinks of email marketing you will find that 74.9% find it negative. Yet 66% of B2C marketing professionals still maintain that email is the most effective channel to reach and engage customers.  Our job as email marketers is to continually drive engagement and grow this high ROI channel. This Valentine’s Day let’s get back to the basics and take a look at nine great best practices we can follow to fall in love with email again.

Get on a Schedule

Sheesh – wasn’t it just Christmas last week?  Indeed, Valentine’s Day sneaks up on us (especially guys) and before you know it, it’s here.  As marketers, we can use email in strategic and timely ways to get ahead of that curve.  Digital marketer Oneupweb has reported top online sales typically occur February 5-6. That corresponds with other research we’ve seen which reports Valentine e-mails peaking at an average of 2.9 a week for the week ending February 4. That same period also sees the first President's Day and St. Patrick's Day e-mails.  There’s a lot of noise this time of year!

When should you start reminding your subscribers about your various offers and promotions?  Three weeks out isn’t too soon.  A month?  Even better.  One week out? It’s peak time and you’re competing for inbox attention.  A great best practice I’ve seen is creating a drip series with a beginning and ending date, giving subscribers the option in the first message to let you know how often they want your offers.  They’ll thank you for that.

Know Your Reader

Valentine’s Day offers a great chance to segment and customize your emails with separate messages for men and women.   As a man with the first name of Robin I can’t tell you how often I get mistaken by marketers of all kinds offering me terrific offers I have absolutely no personal interest in!  If you already have gender-level subscriber information, terrific.  If not, try a form of behavioral targeting to reveal the gender of your readers.  For instance, design an email with tailored calls-to-actions around clicks (e.g. “Gifts for Her” or “Gifts for Him” or “Wish List”.  This is a great way to market to the season while building great segments for the future.

Make it Meaningful

Marketers can often get so caught up in analysis and data that we sometimes forget why we use email in the first place.  Email is the communication tool designed to build and strengthen relationships, and should be used to provide valuable and relevant content. Take the time to think about your audience and what message you want to convey. As much as we like to think our subscribers are sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting our messages, the reality is many have so much in their inbox they begin tuning out even our messages. That’s why it’s important to have both purpose and context when crafting your messages.

During the Valentine’s Day season it’s unlikely your company is marketing something so specific that it has no other application throughout the year (e.g. Roses or candy, the quintessential Valentine’s Day staples, are also great for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)   Instead of simply promoting products, use those products to promote themes – in the case of Valentine’s Day try love, or relationships, or feelings.  A great example would be a hotel chain promoting unsold rooms as a romantic getaway and cross promoting with a flower company or jeweler to offer gift ideas.   Or one I saw just today – a Spa promoting romantic couples retreat.

Think about why someone would open the email. Does it contain something relevant to them? Is the subject relevant to current events? Does it provide incentive or value to the reader? Placing yourself in your subscriber’s shoes lets you focus on developing memorable messages sure to win their hearts. 

Get Personal

It’s no surprise that personalization made the list of things to incorporate into your email campaigns. It’s on everyone’s mind and a top trend for email marketing in 2015. Personalization starts with collecting the right data and then showing your subscribers that you are taking an interest in them. This means more than just “Hi {FirstName}.”  Think about ways you can incorporate a recipient’s preferences or purchases into your messaging. The reader will feel connected and appreciated if you bring in content that is relevant to them. Here’s a recent example that caught my attention.  While not specific to Valentine’s Day it offers a great look at combining content personalization with predictive offer selection

A colleague of mine purchased a personalized calendar for 2014 at the beginning of last year. Near the beginning of 2015, she received a nice reminder email that she needed one for the New Year.  Notice here how the company complimented her original design choice, offered suggestions for a new notebook, and provided an incentive to purchase.  Great personalized touches.

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Be Different

Everyone likes dressing things up on Valentine’s Day – why shouldn’t your email templates be the same?  Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July – each of these holidays has specific “feels” and themes.  Yet for sheer visual identify and thematic reach, it’s hard to beat Valentine’s Day!  Try getting creative during the season by mixing up your email layouts, incorporating the special colors and symbols and the Holiday, and tie them to your offers or promotions.

Incorporate Mobile and Social

After you’ve developed the perfect message your subscribers will love, be sure they can both read it andshare it. Test your audience to see what mobile devices they prefer and you’ll more than likely find that they are on the go. Creating a mobile-friendly email allows your subscribers to view the message even while they are not near a laptop/desktop. Also, give them a chance to share or at least connect with you socially. Strong brands have a loyal set of followers and a positive network makes you attractive to people. Feel the community love! If we think about our audience as people with specific needs, wants and desires our connections become stronger and relatable.

‘Tis the Season

No, Christmas isn’t the only Holiday where giving can be highlighted.  As email marketers, we’re in the business of building lasting and meaningful relationships. Valentine’s Day offers a terrific opportunity to build on a time of year centered around sharing gifts with those we love to remind our customers and subscribers how much they mean to us!  A few easy ways to do this in email newsletters and communications include promoting Free Gift Wrapping and Shipping, or special returns policies, or pass-along offers (to encourage your subscribers to invite friends to join your newsletters). 

Be on Time!

Ask anyone on the dating circuit their top ten pet peeves and among the list will probably rank “being on time for dates.”  Marketers should also pay attention to this, especially during Valentine’s Day where last-minute gift shopping is as normal as a midnight kiss (or two) on New Year’s Eve.  I can tell you from personal experience one of the key reasons many folks don’t buy from brands on Valentine’s Day is the fear of late shipments.  The perfect bouquet delivered at 10:30 am delivered to the office on Valentine’s Day morning? Priceless.  That same bouquet delivered at 3:19 on February 15? Not so much! 

Use Valentine’s Day to reinforce your brand’s “date-worthy” potential.   Prominently state the promises you can keep (e.g. test in the Subject Line, test in different real estate locations of your body, use imagery, etc.) – then deliver on the promise!  You’ll be remembered by your subscribers and customers the next time they need that last minute (or not-so-last-minute) idea.

Get Their Attention

Valentine’s Day is all about one thing – love (or, at least the promise of love).  Your email communications should exude love and romance!  This is especially true in your subject lines.   The core of any successful email campaign is test, test, test.  If you’re not already automating this process across multiple variables with your current email services partner, then at least create A/B splits and monitor them closely.  For Valentine’s Day, try subject lines making it clear to your readers that this message is special, and filled with love!  Test words or phrases like “Perfect,” “Last Minute Gifts Your Valentine Will Love,” or “Romantic Ideas for Sharing” – you get the picture.   Add a sense of urgency to drive higher open rates with phrases like “Expires at Midnight” or “Only Two Days Left.”  Finally, sprinkle in heart (“❤”) symbols – this is a trick many marketers use, but it’s still surprising effective and under used by many. For example, here’s one subject line I saw from last year: “V❤lentine’s Day Gifts For Her & Him”.

Valentine’s Day needn’t be a lost opportunity.  Get creative, get romantic, and fill your email messages and love, hope, and expectation!  (Oh, and a Men’s Gift Subscription to Birchbox would be just fine for me this Valentine’s Day!)

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Wednesday, 22 January 2020