When you are planning an email marketing campaign, there are two important issues to be addressed. The first issue is ensuring that your email marketing campaign gets delivered and the second is persuading the recipients of the email marketing campaign to open the emails and read them.
Email Marketing Campaigns – Robots
Despite the scare headlines about the death of email marketing, it is alive and well and email marketing campaigns are still fighting a running battle with their arch-enemies – the filterbots. These are the poorly trained robots that filter out legitimate marketing emails and correspondence from your relatives but persistently deliver enormous amounts of rubbish right into your mailbox.
You have probably had the experience of signing up for an email marketing campaign – you know, the sort that offers a useful training course or a series of interesting articles – and then finding that you only get about half or two thirds of the promised emails. Sometimes a ten part email campaign mysteriously disappears after part seven or you receive all of the email marketing campaign except parts 1, 5 and 9. It always seems random but we are told that the filterbots are trained to seize mail containing certain words, symbols or combinations of words and symbols.
The really infuriating thing about the bots is that they seem to be unable to distinguish the difference between a junk email marketing campaign and email from a contact in your personal address book. How dare these bots decide on your behalf that you will not receive email from your excitable friend who uses double and triple exclamation marks in correspondence! Ok, multiple exclamation marks are vulgar but being eaten by robots seems rather a harsh punishment for a mere lapse of taste. The filterbots, although not particularly intelligent, are cunning: they leave no evidence, they devour every scrap of the mail they steal, so you can’t prove they have committed the theft. You can’t fight the bots so you need to weave a cloak of invisibility for your email marketing campaigns.
Anyone doing research in the hope of creating a successful email marketing campaign will come across advice on how to get past the filterbots and will discover in advance that certain words and phrases must be avoided. These dangerous words include “money back”, “100% satisfied”, “money-back guarantee” and “order today”. So whilst the author of an email marketing campaign will have this advance warning, such matters will not have come to the attention of your Granny. Granny will wonder why you didn’t reply to her email asking for your advice on her proposed stair lift purchase even though she told you in her email that the company offers a guarantee and she wanted to send off her order today. If Granny is deaf, she won’t be able to sort this out with you by phone, and the filterbots will have created a terrible rift in your relationship.
Email Marketing Campaigns – Humans
Armed with your knowledge of the bots’ weakness for certain fodder, you can make sure your email marketing campaign contains no tempting words that would turn your campaign into a series of tasty bot snacks. So, you’ve done your research, you know the words to avoid and you have found a neat tool that will read your email and tell you if you have accidentally used a “bad” word in your email marketing campaign. The next thing to consider is getting the emails read by the recipients. Having gone to a lot of trouble to plan you email marketing campaign and robot-proof it, you want to give the emails the best possible chance of being read. With one eye on the banned word list, you need to think of the human beings who will receive your email and create subject lines that will make them want to read each email. A tall order but not impossible. There are things you should do and things to definitely avoid. Your email subject heading should (a) stand out, (b) engage the recipient’s interest, (c) relate closely to the body of the message and (d) not look like hype.
To make your email marketing campaign stand out, you can indent the subject by using “>>>>>>>>” or “__________” or “********” but don’t be tempted to use exclamation marks or all capital letters. These will catch the human eye but they will also attract the scrutiny of the filterbots who will most likely gulp the email down without even bothering to look further than the subject line. Don’t be tempted to put L@@K in the subject heading of a business email, that sort of thing is fine if you are writing to a friend but it does not convey a professional image.
To engage the recipient’s interest in your email marketing campaign you can employ one of the following techniques: (a) state a powerful benefit – “xxxxxxx Satisfies Your Need for xxx” (b) pique curiosity – “xxxxxxxx Has Uncovered the Secrets of Success” (c) write your subject line with a news angle – “xxxxxxxx Launches xxxxxxxx For Those Who Want to xxxxxxxxxxx Fast!” (d) offer Immediate Gratification – “With xxxxxxxxxxx, you can start xxxxxxxxxx before the sun goes down tonight”
The subject line of your email must be relevant to the body of the message. If you want to annoy people and ensure they never open another email from your marketing campaign, pick an important sounding subject line – eg “Urgent – Re Your Account” for an email that has nothing to do with any account held by the recipient. People do not like to be misled or tricked and will not forgive you if they think you are trying to fool them. Using an irrelevant title to get someone to open an email is tantamount to lying to them. People will remember this behaviour and might even block all future emails from you. Words such as “: time-sensitive, only 3 days left, powerful, offer about to expire, exclusive, limited, secret” are known to attract attention but should only be used in appropriate circumstances, ie when they relate to the contents of the email.
Create an email marketing campaign subject line that doesn’t look like hype. This has to be the hardest one of all as it is subjective. What looks like hype to one person will look like a reasonable proposition to another. A perfectly genuine statement will be suspected hype to an overly cynical person. The first thing to do is to avoid anything that you personally think looks like hype. Ask yourself if it would convince you if it turned up in your mailbox or if you would immediately hit the delete button – if you can’t even convince yourself, you will be causing a similar reaction in other people. Never make over-inflated claims in the subject line, make sure you can back up any statements you make. If you can do this and still create an alluring title for your email, you will have a good chance of getting your email marketing campaign read if it gets past the filterbots.
Email Marketing Campaigns – “Shoes Slashed Whilst Lions Roared”
“Shoes Slashed Whilst Lions Roar” is my favourite email subject line of all time. I believe this is an example of a near enough perfect subject line for an email marketing campaign. It has all the elements: the words stand out from the run of the mill titles, it engages the recipient’s interest, it relates closely to the body of the message and it does not look like hype.
This subject line was used in an email marketing campaign run by a mail order company I had previously used for purchasing online. I might or might not bother to read emails from the company depending upon how busy I was. I couldn’t resist opening this email because the title intrigued me. Although it was easy to guess that the “Shoes Slashed” would relate to reduced prices on footwear, I couldn’t figure out where roaring lions would come into a clothing and footwear catalogue, so I simply had to read the email. The email carried details of special offers on footwear (as anticipated) and English Lions Rugby shirts, which were apparently a roaring success. The dramatic sounding subject line was, in fact, directly relevant to the body of the mail and nothing about it bears the tell-tale mark of hype.
Email Marketing Campaigns – Final Word About The Beginning
The first mails in your email marketing campaign are the most important so should be especially carefully crafted from the aspects of both bot-proofing and engaging human interest. If you can get the first couple of emails delivered and read, people who are interested in what you have to say will recognise your name and will want to read any further emails from you that arrive in their mailbox. It is also a good idea to suggest in the first couple of emails that the recipients should add you to their “white list” to ensure they don’t miss future important mail. All this might not make your email marketing campaigns 100% filterbot proof but it is the best mere humans can do in this particular battle.
Copyright 2005 Elaine Currie