At the end of last week, the subject of emails and how often they should be sent to your audience moved to front and center on the SIPA Forum. The prevailing wisdom is that it's the content that matters most.
Citing many publishers with long-successful email programs that include two contacts per day, Ed Coburn, president of Cabot Wealth Network, wrote: "There's a BIG CAVEAT, however. These email programs were content rich and provided real, valuable information to recipients. If recipients would say that 60-70% of your emails fall into that category, they will keep opening and clicking on your emails. Go the route of pumping out a lot of hype-filled ads and marketing copy and you will burn out your list very quickly at a 2X daily frequency." He also noted that content-rich email is especially important for B2B publishers to keep their email out of the "promotions" or "clutter" folder.
Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media, agreed. "The cornerstone of good marketing in this business is making sure to deliver value with your messages. The way my company looks at that is pretty simple. We produce top-quality news for professionals working in a specific sector, so we essentially just put our headlines in front of those professionals. Because the content we're sending is well-targeted, we get a high percentage signing up for trials with a very low opt-out rate."
In line with these, there are best practices for shaping those value-rich emails and getting conversions. Here are some that I've come across:
1. Highlight a problem your audience has and address it, said Robert Skrob, who literally wrote the book on member retention and emails to address it. "I often discover there are two or three quick wins you can implement within a week [of people joining] to lower churn immediately."
2. Create something the customer can't get anywhere else, added Skrob. To maintain your member's interest, you need to keep your content unique and necessary. He cites Inside Mortgage Finance's ability to publish valuable statistics and B2B news for residential mortgage executives, and constantly update their data content.
3. "Use the #1 question people ask you as the subject line of your next email," said Andy Crestodina, co-founder & CMO, Orbit Media Studios. "It's simple, powerful and the article is probably already written."
4. Improve content value, Jim Sinkinson of Fired Up! Marketing, advised. (He will also be speaking at SIPA Annual.) Make your content specifically about reader needs—problems and opportunities—not just about things—news, industry analysis or data. [Your job is to] help readers solve problems and realize aspirations. Transform your service into a consultancy focused on customer needs.
5. Ask "What's in it for me?" "My top strategy for email copy is to ultimately ask yourself whether your copy answers this one critical question for your intended recipients: 'What's in it for me?'" said Scott Cohen, VP of marketing, InboxArmy. "Whether your copy is short and sweet and drives action on a big call to action or long-winded, funny and/or informative, answering WIIFM should be your copy driver."
6. Be timely, concise and mysterious. "To me, an engaging email is going to be three things: 1. timely, 2. as concise as possible, and 3. somewhat mysterious," said Jenn Lisak, president & CEO, Sapphire Strategy. "Some of the best emails I've seen have made you wonder what's in them, and they get to the point quickly."
7. Offer advice. "Our readers are hungry for advice from The Times. Too often, we don't offer it, or offer it only in print-centric forms," The New York Times wrote in their report, Journalism That Stands Apart, The Report of the 2020 Group. "We expect that the bigger opportunities are in providing guidance rather than traditional features."
8. Research and empathy, said John McIntyre, founder, The McMethod. "Know your market....their hopes, dreams, fears and pains, and create content that fits that. Great copy always begins with research."
9. Get people in the right frame of mind to make a purchase. "We think about what's readily available to us, what's relevant," said consultant Nancy Harhut. "You want to get people to think of a time in their past where they could have used your product or service or think of a time in the future when it would it fit into their lifestyle."