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Email Variety is the Spice of Inbox Life

by Karen Talavera

08 15, 2011 | Posted in Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Messaging Strategy | 0 comments

Email variety like spices

photo credit: aechempati


One of my email seminar students recently asked: “I feel like the only emails my company ever sends are sales messages: like we’re always asking people to buy, buy, buy.  Should we supplement these with other types of email and if so, what?

Don’t feel bad, lack of variety in email marketing is a common dilemma for many marketers.  Businesses newer to email or with fewer resources tend to gravitate first and only to promotional messaging, but there is plenty more you can and should communicate to your list. Here are just a few of the many greetings and message types you should include in your email program:

A Newsletter

Whether it’s weekly, twice a month or monthly (I don’t recommend less than monthly) your e-newsletter is a fantastic email catch-all for many different types of content and messaging.  Include articles, useful tips, recommendations, testimonials, event information and yes, product offers and specials too.  It’s a “news” letter after all, so be sure you’re weaving together not only what’s new with your business, but what’s new in your industry.  If you have an above-average perspective on developing practices, breaking news or trends, legislation or inventions in your market, share helpful information about it in the form of feature articles.

Personal and Holiday Greetings

Are you acknowledging your email subscribers’ birthdays and service anniversaries with a thank you email? You should be.  How about holidays – are you sending Thanksgiving greetings, Happy Holidays messages, and other emails reflecting the seasonal celebrations throughout the year?  These are some of the easiest messages to develop and deploy, and some of the most cherished by subscribers because they’re intimate, appreciative and timely.  Integrating them into your message stream makes you or your brand more personal and welcome in the inbox and as a result, more thought of as a trusted friend than the “friend who only calls when she needs something”.

Triggered Follow-Ups

Did you know triggered email generates ten times the revenue and over twenty times the profit of broadcast campaigns? Yes, it’s incredibly powerful and relevant because it is targeted to individuals based on recent actions, dates or unique characteristics. So remember to include event reminders, bounce backs, purchase thank-you’s, and browse or cart abandonment follow-ups in your mix and you’ll see an incredible boost in email ROI.

Education, Information and Entertainment

You probably know more useful, fun and educational things than you realize – but do you share them? A weekly “hot tip” or “helpful hint” goes a long way toward “selling by way of serving”, which I believe is quickly replacing “selling by way of promotion”.  This kind of content marketing strategy also gives you yet another reason besides selling to keep in touch with your list, especially if your email frequency is low.

Why strive for variety at all? Try these five compelling reasons on for size:

1) When it comes to email, variety literally is the “spice of inbox life”

The average person is a far more sophisticated inbox navigator than ever before and will tune out (read: delete) what looks like repetitive, same-old, same-old messaging.

2) While some marketing thrives on continuity and predictability (like, incidentally, newsletters) a pattern interrupt is a tried and true practice for grabbing attention and engagement.

Increasing the variety of your email messages makes it difficult if not impossible for subscribers to predict when and how you’re showing up in the inbox, which means they’re more likely to notice you when you do.

3) You can only send so many promotional buy messages before you’re likely to alienate list members to the point of unsubscribing.  If that’s all you ever send, you’ll see a steady list attrition pattern. Increasing variety is a fantastic way to increase frequency without redundancy and alienation.  In short, more variety gives you more legitimate reasons to mail your list.

4) Expanding your messages into educational, information and entertainment content improves your inbox mojo.  Content marketing is hot because it positions you as an expert, influencer, or both which correlates with higher trust, credibility and appreciation.  Yes, doing something to actually help, serve or amuse your subscribers is seen by most as relevant and valued – both necessary for long email relationships to thrive.  These types of messages can give you fantastic legitimacy and digital “street cred”. GREAT content even creates loyalty and dependency.  So, yeah, please don’t leave email out of your content marketing strategy!

5) Triggered email pays huge dividends. In addition to doing all four of the above, triggered email accounts for a tiny percentage of overall email volume for most marketers but contributes huge amounts of revenue, engagement and profit.  So you’d be crazy not to work it into the mix.

For help integrating these and more into an annual email message plan, check out our Online Marketing Content Planner.

What other types of messages have you included in your email marketing mix? And what have they done to benefit your business?

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: aechempati

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