That is the question. Specifically asked by Anastasia Dedyuhina, founder of Consciously Digital, at General Assembly’s June talk on email marketing in the age of digital distraction.
I’m the first to admit that email marketing is not my favourite activity compared with creating new content for social or delving into Google Analytics.
It is the pressure to craft the ideal email that can mount. With the snappy subject line so the email doesn’t automatically end up in the bin, copy and visuals that talk to the customer’s needs and the all important call to action. All this when our attention spans are now shorter that a goldfish, 8 seconds down from twelve. My childhood goldfish Sooty had the attention span of 9 seconds.
Emails are competing with everything and everyone's attention yet; I can’t deny its effectiveness when done well.
From experience the more tailored the message is to each segmented list the better the open, click through and conversion rates are. From Anastasia’s research email is also 40 times more successful to drive social followers.
Here are my take-aways from the talk
Nurture the private space
Something that really connected with me was Anastasia referring to email as a private space between you and your customer. The hard part is not to think of your audience as just ‘a list’ but speak to the person. This sense of intimacy can be forgotten when writing your copy in your email platform but I think it is important to try and keep in mind, and speak to a person.
Be a flower
Anastasia used the analogy of a bee and a flower. A busy bee sends out lots of emails thinking they will be successful and drive engagement and conversions. A flower is beautiful, it attracts customers with content and stories that we remember. Content that shows how the product can benefit the customer. I know there are certain emails that I will always open because it offers me content that I am interested in and will get me to their site.
*Look out for a future blog on the best and worst emails in my inbox.
GDPR – know it, plan for it
Do you know what GDPR is? I didn’t either before this talk. GDPR is the EU General Data Protection Regulation, and as their website states, it is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years.
This is big subject that we all have to take into consideration so I will give you the highlights and why you and I need to act.
The main point is that all organisations that email people must now not only ensure that they have explicit consent from the person to be added to a mailing list, but there must be proof of this.
But hey, aren’t we leaving the EU so don’t need to worry? Not quite, if anyone on your list is in a EU country then you have to comply with the regulation regardless of if you’re in a non-EU country.
D-day for the regulation being enforced is 25 May 2018 after which organisations that don’t comply will face “heavy fines,” as stated on their website. So that leaves us less that a year to get our lists in order, namely ensuring that we ask permission to add users to a list, we have proof of consent and we telling users exactly how we plan to use their data.
For many of us this may mean losing a chunk of our mailing list as customers fail to re-subscribe but without this consent you could leave yourself open to large fines. Definitely something to start planning for now.
This was the most successful subject line of all of Barack Obama’s emails during this 2008 election campaign. Why? It’s personal and it’s informal, it’s the type of subject line I would use with friends, which immediately endears Obama to the user. Would this work for every organisation? It would depend on your brand, but it shows that it is worth split testing different subject lines to find any trends on what works best with your audience.
F bad copy
Each person spends about 5 seconds on every email; I know I do, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to get your message across so it’s important to keep your message focused. Some top tips to consider:
People don’t read every word in text; they scan in a ‘F’ shape, so write your copy with this in mind.
Ideally keep emails to 130 words, 150 words max.
Include keywords in your copy.
Don’t add too many links as it stops people reading and could be identified as spam.
Test, test, test
Finally, whatever assumptions we may have about our emails, whether it’s ideal mailing times, best subject lines or visuals that are most effective it is best to test this time and again.
Happy emailing everyone!