Showing your audience a little email love

Content Marketing ‌• February 14, 2013

As someone who has written a ton (I don’t think I’m exaggerating–I bet if you printed them all off they’d weigh about a ton) of B2B emails, I know how hard it can be to come up with consistently compelling messages. After you’ve segmented your lists, narrowed your offer, and setup all necessary tracking and distribution processes, it can be exhausting to think about getting the words just right, especially if you have an aggressive messaging calendar.

We hear a lot these days about the overuse of email as a marketing vehicle. Sagefrog Marketing Group found that B2B survey respondents placed email just behind a website in terms of vehicle use and I’d be surprised to find many B2B marketers who don’t consider email integral to their marketing mix.

Despite my understanding of the difficulties in email marketing, I still find myself incredibly frustrated when I see poorly written emails with lackluster offers in my inbox. This week brought the perfect example.

The setup on the email was pretty good. The subject line of “Interesting Article: Marketing Trends” made it look like it could be an email from a colleague and got me to open the message. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. The interesting article it called out was from a third-party vendor, not of the sender’s own creation. This was a bad idea for two reasons:

  1. Sure you can track if I click on the link in your email, but you have zero visibility to what I do after that. If you had used this third-party vendor’s stats in a blog post or a whitepaper of your own, you’d have a much better idea of how I consumed the information. You’re sending me away from you, your brand, your website, etc. If I was intrigued, I’d be more likely to reach out to this third-party vendor than to recall how I got there.
  2. The “interesting article” was interesting–so interesting in fact that it felt oddly familiar. I scanned the header and realized that it seemed familiar because I’d had already read it–when it was originally published in November 2011.

As I realized that I had not only been sent away from the sender entirely and routed to an asset that was over a year old (which I equate to at least 5 years in Internet Time), I glanced at the footer of the email and saw a copyright for 2012. Could this be a minor mistake on the technology side of the house? Sure; it’s early February and email templates might not have been duly updated yet. But could this also mean that I was receiving a recycled email that was sent originally in 2012 and was getting tried again? I couldn’t help but wonder. And if your email recipient is ever wondering if she’s loved enough to get some fresh content on an original (or at least mostly original–it’s ok to spruce up something that’s worked before!) email, you’ve got problems (like me unsubscribing from your list).

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I won’t leave you in the dumps pondering my email tale of woe. If you spend a great deal of time conveying messages via email, show your audience a little love today and every day by:

  • Using fresh content and offers (if you’re going to recycle, make sure you upcycle and improve on what was previously used)
  • Making sure your fabulous call-to-action meets the expectations you’ve set
  • Leveraging others’ great ideas and stats into cited, proprietary assets (always send an email clicker back to you, not into the great unknown)

How do you show your email recipients love?

Sam McCue
Inbound Marketing guru, avid fisherman, and all-around backcountry enthusiast.

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