Email Like You’re in High School

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Last weekend was my high school reunion. Lots of fun and a great time (we even used it as an excuse to raise money for a local charity). And then I read this excellent article on what consumers want from email marketing.

And it occurred to me that the two are pretty similar. Here’s how:

Don’t Overdo It

You don’t have a reunion every year, you have them to mark milestones. And while my 10 year was three events spread over the entire weekend, this latest one was just one night at a local restaurant. Similarly, consumers (and tradesmen) don’t want to be constantly inundated with emails. Over half of those surveyed in the article cite too many emails as their biggest frustration.

Know Your Audience

Sure, everyone at the event was someone I went to high school with, but the years (and a large class) meant there were plenty of people there I only “kinda” knew. I even had one conversation that was all about how we didn’t remember each other at all. And the correlation for emails is simple: know enough about who you’re talking to so you can speak to their needs, or find out more so you can.

Use The Right Approach

We set up our reunion almost entirely on Facebook. Not the newest, most sexy platform out there, but the one the most of us were on. And while email is still king for customer contact, there are other platforms out there, and in the right circumstances direct mail, mobile apps and other ways of reaching customers can make more sense. Be adaptable.

The Competition is Out There. So What?

Yes, there are at least three other marketing professionals in my graduation class. One even has an old account of ours. Big deal, we commiserated on common headaches and laughed about old times. And yes, your competitors are on your email list. Big deal, use it as an excuse to make them wish they worked for you.

Stay On Target

I have a tendency to talk a lot. And I could have droned on about everything I’ve done since I had a mullet, but the best conversations were the ones where I found some common ground, shared a specific experience, and had an exchange with an old classmate.  And your email should do the same. Sure, you want them to look at your entire line of products and know about EVERY benefit and feature. But if you keep your emails short (no one likes to scroll), simple (no one wants to wait for an image to load) and encourage feedback (people prefer conversation to lectures) you’ll keep the conversation going a lot longer.

Be Usefully Informative

Like I said, the best conversations were the ones where we found some common ground and talked about it. A class we both loved/hated. Having our own kids now or how glad we were social media didn’t exist when we were in school. When you have over 100 other classmates around, no one wants to get stuck in a conversation they have no interest in, and that never seems to end. And your email marketing needs to not be the boring guy in the room either. Don’t go for the hard sell (have you ever bought anything based on an email?). Don’t wander off topic (34% or respondents were frustrated when brands suggested items they had no interest in). And most importantly: Be Informative. Use your email marketing as a way to show solutions, cover industry topics, or show off innovative projects, and everyone will want to read on, or buy the next round.

If you follow the tips outlined above, I’m sure your email marketing will be more effective than passing notes in class!

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