Over the last couple of days, I’ve received a number of marketing emails offering advice and suggestions for help during the lockdown in England. Some appeared hurried and most were generic. I can see the, rather obvious, intent of such offers as helpfulness brings its own reward. By being constructive and offering good advice they are placing a certain obligation on subscribers to look favourably on the company’s desire to help.
I wouldn’t criticise their motives as the logical alternative is to be nasty to subscribers. However, some went a little too far, and the motive of enlightened self-interest was only too apparent in the way they used solicitousness. While I realise that the assumption that everyone is a bit like me is dangerous, here are my thoughts on what to say. But make your own choices which to follow.
1/ Be brief
I am not looking for a diatribe against something I have no control over. Lockdown is difficult. I get that. Do not belabour the point. If you have something to offer me, tell you what it is in a simple, straightforward, easy to understand manner.
2/ Don’t mention your own problems
I mean no offence, but I don’t care if you have difficulties. Empathy is good. Tell me that you know what my problems are, but don’t go on about those you are experiencing, especially if they are nothing like mine.
3/ Avoid faux sympathy
I don’t want you to hold my hands; don’t put your arm around my shoulders; don’t tell me you feel sorry for me. I’ve clicked on a banner that suggests you have answers. I want to hear them.
4/ Work out what you want to say
If you are offering an extension on time to pay, or a way of putting off critical dates, then be clear on what you are offering. By that I mean extending credit is not, of itself, a solution. It’s a temporary fix. Giving subscribers the impression that you are solving their problems without pain is dishonest and that will bring its own penalty, and to both parties.
5/ Don’t waffle
There is no need to say that your complying with the law as that is an assumption most of us have already made, and not to do so is a secure way of increasing unsubscribes. I don’t want to be told things will return to normal ‘soon’. Neither of us knows if or when. I want information in a succinct and easily understood form where my options are clearly spelt out.
I don’t think those points are all that difficult to comply with. You’re obviously not going to include all that on a marketing email, and most companies put banners across the top, or in strategic places in the email, with click-throughs to a landing page, a couple with very clear FAQ lists. Most, if not all, offered a signup form to subscribe to newsletters. This was not exploitation, although there were benefits to the company. I’ve subscribed to two. That’s clever email marketing.