Selling they say, is a numbers game and if you listen to email marketing experts they’ll tell you that email is the best value. Tell people about your product or services with carefully crafted emails, and sales will surely follow. But I believe the reality is somewhat different, and I’ve figures to prove it.
We already know that email isn’t perfect and is constantly battling with spam filters. Delivery is a big problem and for a while, I really thought this technical issue was the main reason that email open rates were so low, typically 10-30%. Yet email experts tell us that the subject line is critical too and fine tuning this did provide some modest improvements pushing up rates as high as 35-40%. Then I noticed a couple of my clients individual campaigns achieved over 65% open rates, which for email marketing is almost unheard of. Obviously my old mail was getting through, but people were simply deleting them, since the focus was, quite naturally, on a new product offering or service. So, which campaign ‘subjects’ got opened at these 65% rates?
Well, it wasn’t those messages about new products, services, business opportunity or even [surprisingly] how to save money. Clear winners were those where the subject line and content was more on helping others, charitable works or personal interest stories. (These were often added as an afterthought). Yes, it seems even your customers may want to know if one of your staff is getting married, having children, celebrating an achievement or more often, know more about your charitable efforts or a local children’s fundraiser that you (and they) could help out.
Actually this is hardly new. Seasoned copywriters have known of this for decades. Engage the client at the personal level first, then sell the product or service.
It’s not just about selling – It’s about how messages make us feel
My own theory is that this type of message creates a tiny bond between the recipient and your company, or rather, your people. The lesson here is that your email communications should focus more around topics people can actually relate to, are relevant and perhaps makes them feel better as a person. Invoke an emotional response, which is something top marketers and psychologists have told us for decades. Its been proven that buying decisions are nearly always made from the emotional, not logical side of the brain. Feelings, it is said, is the language of the soul. Invoking feelings means you become less of a big corporate, and more a human being. It obviously builds trust and a closer relationship, which if nurtured will help build your business in the long term.
It perhaps reminds us that we are in fact human, not just another sales opportunity for someone….
Maybe it’s also the fact that we’re being bombarded with clinical, impersonal sales messages every day, and these little personal interest stories suddenly stand out. A tiny light in the darkness called marketing. It reminds us that we are in fact human beings, not just another sales opportunity or prospect for someone.
Where is Emails Sweet Spot?
I think even using the term email marketing puts us on the wrong foot today. Maybe email should be less about ‘marketing’ or selling, and all about educating, communicating and relationship building at a more personal level. It’s certainly what our readers seem to want.
Copywriters who write for all media channels have long noted that email alone is not good at pure lead generation. In fact it’s a bad choice. Too many like to use it this way purely because it is perceived to be cheap and easy to do. But even if you’re able to find or build an email list (which isn’t a cheap process), sending out a product-focused email blast, like you’d put an ad in a magazine, to those you have no prior relationship with produces very poor results and likely to antagonize people. In fact they’ll probably blacklist or filter out your companies email address so that future emails are never seen, even if they do have some real benefit.
However for existing clients we already know and have permission to communicate with, email appears much more efficient and cost-effective than other media – Ideal for nurturing that relationship and keeping your clients loyal. Considering that finding a new client is 5x more costly than retaining (or regaining) one, this puts email in a very powerful and critical position in any company’s business strategy. And keeping a more human face on our email messages ensures that they’ll be opened, read and treasured.