Can Email Marketing Give Subscribers the Warm and Fuzzies?
When was the last time a brand went out of its way to make you feel special… through an email? Probably never. The truth is, too many marketing emails are making their subscribers feel like they’re dating someone they’re not really into. Let me tell you why.
I highly doubt anyone actually enjoys receiving emails (unless you’re an email marketer, like me). In fact, nearly half of consumers claim they receive too many emails. But if everyone hates getting emails, why is it still such a saturated market?
Email hasn’t been a human-centered marketing channel in a long, long time. Nearly 50% of all emails are considered spam, and our ISPs are sick of it. So much so, that they’ve created filters based on email content and the sender’s email history to remove this pesky content from our inbox and dump it into our spam folder. How has email marketing gotten to a point where we need to jump through hundreds of hoops just to avoid that spam folder? Because we’ve sent our emails with the same amount of care and thought as Regina George flooding the halls of North Shore High School with Burn Book flyers. We’ve forgotten about who is on the other end of our messages — real people.
Email can be one of the most intimate, personalized forms of marketing — but only if we do it right. What many organizations forget when marketing via email is that what they’ve created is a private message specifically for each of their subscribers. Through these private messages you can build strong relationships with your users and make them fall head over heels for your brand.
Part of being a good marketer is being a decent person (although many will disagree), and part of forming a great relationship with your subscribers is knowing how to have a great relationship with another human. Kind of like dating. If you think about the quality, genuine dating advice you’ve been given over the years, you’ll probably be able to apply some version of that to your email marketing strategy.
Picture Prince Charming (or Princess Charming, or any other character you’re into). Think about all the special moments you’ve spent together and how amazing this whole new world is.
Now, pretend that person is actually a company and all those amazing memories that you have with them are emails. Chances are, this dreamboat you’ve been thinking about isn’t just doing the bare minimum to give you some attention, but they’re going above and beyond the call of duty to make you feel special.
Most brands we engage with via email are just “okay.” They send information that sometimes is relevant, and we put up with it for a while because we enjoy their product or service. Or maybe it’s because you’re too lazy to unsubscribe and you’re someone who keeps thousands of unread emails in your inbox like a sociopath.
I doubt that we’d settle for just “okay” relationships with other human beings, so why should we settle when it comes to our sacred inboxes? After all, email was created to connect with other humans, not to be bombarded with robotic messaging about things we don’t care about. People like feeling special, loved, and knowing they can trust the person they’re in a relationship with, and email should be the exact same way.
Dating Tips for a Decent Email Marketing Strategy
Before getting to the ways to make your emails great, it’s important to cover the basics — aka, how not to get stuck. If you’re not implementing these practices (both with email and in your love life), now’s a great time to start.
1. Give them attention, but don't be clingy
Great relationships are all about balance. Everyone likes being loved, but they also need some “me” time. That’s why it’s important to make sure the moments you have together are worth-while. On average, the majority of users prefer receiving emails from a brand they trust at least once per month or once per week. Let them live their life without you, and when you do message them, make sure it’s special enough to remind them why they fell in love in the first place.
2. Offer to pay the bill (at least on the first date)
Everyone loves a good deal. So what better way to welcome someone to your brand than by giving them a little gift in their welcome email? Providing a welcome gift creates goodwill between your brand and your potential customer and incentivizes them to make a purchase.
3. Don't make it obvious you're still seeing other people
In fact, please remove the term “email blast” from your vocabulary altogether. You may be sending your email to more than one person, but it’s your job to make your users feel like they’re the only one you care about.
If you’re constantly thinking about “blasting” your users, they’ll see right through you and unsubscribe before you know it. To make your users feel special, take advantage of segmenting your lists to make sure that the only people who are receiving your email truly care about it. And if they don’t, at least give them the option to update their preferences or opt-out.
4. Remember their name
People love hearing their name — as long as you’re not over-using it or pulling incorrect data. Adding a user’s name to your message can help your engagement significantly, but proceed with caution. Have you ever called your significant other by the wrong name? I doubt that was a fun conversation. That mistake (like the ones below) should be avoided in email as well. Make sure your data is correct and you’ve tested your email before implementing this. Also, it helps to have a general but unique-to-your-brand fallback name in case your data fails you, like “fashionista,” “taco lover,” “smartshopper,” etc. It’s better to not personalize than to get their name completely wrong.
5. Be emotionally available
How do you expect your subscribers to be in a strong, healthy relationship with you if they don’t feel like they can talk to you? Sending someone an email from a noreply@ address is the perfect way to make someone frustrated with your brand very easily. What if they need help with something? Show you’re available by using a simple email address that people feel welcome to engage with. After all, engagement is what you want, isn’t it?
6. Remember how and when you met
Anniversaries are pretty important when it comes to relationships — and they should be when it comes to your customers, too. Sending an anniversary message with a sweet gift can help to grow your relationship, especially if that message or gift shows some sort of remembrance of what first brought you two together (i.e. a first purchase).
Dating Tips for a Superb Email Marketing Strategy
Instead of constantly preaching the same methods that should already be in use, it’s time to think about how our emails can help our subscribers. The below practices will help you stand out from your competitors and make your users feel like you’re the love of their life.
1. Be helpful
The first question you should ask yourself when creating a new email campaign is “will my users find this helpful?” If the answer is no, maybe rethink your strategy. Letting them know about a current sale is definitely considered helpful, but what about staying with them after they’ve made a purchase? For example, if you recently purchased a beautiful serving platter online, you’d expect to receive order and shipping confirmation emails. Those are considered helpful, but what if as soon as you received that platter in the mail, you also received an email with some great appetizer recipes to try out? Your user is thinking “Wow, how did they know I’d love this? This is so thoughtful!”
This message doesn’t have to do with upselling, and it’s not meant to drive more revenue. This is meant to nurture the relationship you have with your customer. Let them know you’re not just sending emails to get more money out of them, and even if you are, don’t make it obvious. That’s our job as marketers.
2. Let them know they can trust you
Think about that serving platter. Your user has trusted you with the information they’ve provided and now you’re showing them you’re using that data for their benefit — not your own. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone they can’t trust, and they sure won’t be an advocate for a brand they can’t trust either
3. Show your values
Is there something your brand is passionate about (besides your product)? Let your subscribers know. Whether it’s going above and beyond to make sure your employees are well taken care of, saving the planet with sustainability practices, or working with local nonprofits, people like engaging with a brand with quality core values.
A humble brag every so often about work you’re proud of isn’t bad at all. Remember, not every email needs to be about driving revenue — some are about nurturing your relationship with the user.
4. Create personalized experiences based on behavior
Focusing on your most engaged customers and creating email interactions based off their behavior will show a large increase in revenue generated per email. Triggered messages on average can generate up to five times more revenue than bulk sends. One of the top revenue-driving triggered messages are Cart Abandonment emails, where nearly 60% of these messages can result in a sale within 24 hours of deployment. Just remember to not be too pushy. Let your cart abandoner know you’re there to help them make their purchase and answer any questions they have about the product. It’s also a great time to offer a discount as another incentive as well.
5. Learn their interests (other than you)
Ask your subscribers to tell you more about themselves and what they like. If you’re a clothing store, find out if your user is interested in men’s or women’s clothing, business or athletic attire, a preppy or boho style, etc.
The power of data is pretty incredible. With all the tools (praise the Google Analytics Gods!) we have, we can see what pages on our site our users are interested in. Use that data to your advantage to build a better relationship with your customer and highlight some of their favorites or most popular items. Consumers say they fear how much data companies have on them, but when that data is used to improve their experience with you, the majority are happy with the result.
As someone who works in email marketing every day, I believe that these practices should already be the norm, but based on my experience as both a consumer and as a marketer, I know we still have a long way to go. Just remember, the goal is to build a strong relationship with your subscribers and to make them love your organization — no matter what you’re selling. If they know your intentions are to help better their lives, they will have no problem being an advocate for your brand.
If your company’s email strategy isn’t great, know you’re not the only ones in that boat. But don’t settle for just having an “okay” email program. We’re in an age where consumers want everything at their fingertips, and you can make your organization stand out by showing them you care. After all, there are still human beings on both ends of that email.