As a nation of consumers we are exposed to countless marketing messages a day, be it standing at the bus stop, cleaning our teeth, queuing for lunch or consulting our phone for the latest social media update there will be a strategically placed ad ready and waiting to grab our attention.  But most of these messages are aimed at a broad consumer base and follow a ‘boom – there it is’ sort of format so therefore are not very personal. Minimum message, maximum impact is the  name of the game here but when something infiltrates your inbox you can pretty much bet that it was meant specifically for you and will contain far juicier content than a limited edition, extra thick, double meaty American state inspired burger.

Targeted email marketing is one of the most popular ways to reach a specific audience that you know are already interested in  your product or service.  Most of you will have an email database already made up of existing customers or enquiring potential customers, but if don’t or want to build the one you have then try such data capture methods as prize draw entries, questionnaires or ‘sign-up to receive’ schemes and offer monthly newsletters or tips in order to increase your contacts.

Ok, so you’ve got your audience now how are you actually going to reach them?  It’s all very well thinking that if you send an email and don’t receive a ‘non-delivery notification’ that you’ve reached them, but the chances of your carefully constructed marketing message going into spam or just being deleted straight away are very real. Out of the double figure emails you will likely receive in a working day what will make them open yours?

This is where a bit of psychology comes into its own and you can influence the open rate with a little clever wording and mood setting…  No-one wants to miss out, everyone thinks that they might be the lucky winner and we all love a bit of VIP treatment every now and then by being the first to have that coveted look, item or foolproof sales technique.

I am of course talking about what you put in the subject line, this is the first thing that your audience will read,apart from perhaps the name of the sender, so it needs to be good and have the desired effect of making them open your email.  You can also try posing a question in your subject line, these are a good enticer as you can immediately hint at what the main content will have to say for itself e.g. how your product or service will solve a common problem.

Ok, so they’ve made it to your content, this should relate to your subject header or you will run the risk of losing the reader’s attention.  Now, remember when I said earlier that we are exposed to countless marketing messages a day and that you needed to make yours stand out?  Well, a good way to get readers to relate to you is to personalise your message and content, this will also lend credibility to your business and product.

I was sent a brilliant email the other day by Drayton Bird which had the captivating subject header “Are you a business idiot like me?”

I immediately wanted to read more, not because I thought he was calling me an idiot but  because I liked the way that with this simple question he alluded to potentially teaching me something (hence adding value) whilst saying we all make mistakes, even the professionals. He humanised his authority voice which put me at ease and really made me feel like he was talking to me directly.  The email went on to give a brief and amusing insight into how he started his business, and encouraged readers to follow a link should they want to find out more.  I duly did this as I could relate to the content because he had given a real life, personal example.

Now, despite there being no images in the original email it still was powerful enough to have the desired effects of 1) me opening it and 2) me clicking on the link for further information.  Images are popular though because they are a good support tool for content and let you “show” rather than “tell” if you have limited space.

Speaking of space, when you’re sending a marketing email you should be aware of the device it will be opened on and how long it will take to consume.  If you have to go through the entire semaphore alphabet with hand gesticulations just in order to swipe the screen sufficiently enough see it then perhaps the format needs a re-think, just like if you’re still reading long after the “fold” then you will probably want to cut down your content.

Your email doesn’t have to tell the reader your life story but it should cover a few key points.  Firstly you must remember its purpose which will be some if not all of the below:

  • To familiarise your reader with your product, company or brand

  • To remind them of how you can benefit them

  • To spread news about something of benefit to them i.e. a new product, trial product or sale

  • To make them act and ultimately go to your website or pick up the phone and buy

Your email must also be clear in its flow, direction and call to action.  If your customer doesn’t know what to do then you can guarantee they will do nothing.  And if you are targeting potential new customers then it might be an idea to “eliminate the risk” by offering free returns or free delivery, just as a little extra incentive.

If you’re new to email marketing then don’t worry, there are great free services out there for novices that allow you to build and mail professional looking emails, take a look at Mailchimp and Wizemail, and we are more than happy to offer advice on content or a proofreading service.

Next week I will look at how the old ways are still the best ways when it comes to marketing.

Targeted email marketing

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