The problem with rules is that they regulate. Cars mostly look the same nowadays not (only?) because coachwork designers have lost the art, but because constraining factors, such as the construction and use regulations, crash testing and the straightjacket of the laws of physics, especially as they apply to aerodynamics and limit their options.
It hasn’t stopped some companies trying, and in the case of the FIAT Multiplas spectacularly failing, to come up with an acceptable alternative, but from an investment point of view, safely following established principles should not be seen as the most sensible way to go. As long as aesthetics are not confronted.
With all aspects of direct email marketing, newsletters and alerts, there are constraints. Some are technical; the limits of html and rich media come immediately to mind, whilst others are practical, such as spam filters. Would it not be best just to copy a competitor’s design for their direct email marketing campaigns, but, what is it you end up with, something that, like the Multiplas, makes some people wince?
These restrictions tend to make emails, at least to those receiving them, very similar and herein lies the problem. How can you make your very similar email campaign stand out from the crowd?
First the good news: some of your competitors are not using email marketing effectively and wasting such a valuable resource. American research showed that over half of the sample felt that the content was not targeted to their needs or interests. Or, to put it another way, they were treated as an email address and not as a potential customer. What a waste. If you are not sending emails specific to your customers’ needs and interests you are going to struggle in this business.
Secondly more good news: three out of five recipients were annoyed by the fact that nothing of value was being sent. This could be considered the same mistake as the earlier one as implicit in the criticism is nothing of value to them. Whatever you are offering might be the bargain of the century but if they have no need of an epicyclic trunnion, cutting the cost of one by 75% is not a lot of use.
It can be appreciated, as an epicyclic trunnion will not, that by getting to know your customers you can overcome the main criticisms of your competitors. But that is not enough.
Not all details are equal. Once beyond the obvious demographics of age, sex, etc and, for B2B, size of firm and position of the person and their responsibilities in it, where do you go? What should you focus on?
There is no universal answer. That would be too simple. However, there are a number of straightforward steps you can take.
Work out a sort of average life expectancy for your customers / email recipients. You will probably find they go in identifiable stages, from newcomer to first purchase, to regular then valuable customer, then the orders will drop off and finally the emails will bounce. This will be a norm, something you can expect, with some degree of certainty, every customer to conform to, at least at this stage. You will have your baseline.
Then it is a case of changing the norm, identifying the areas where you can change it, using the information you gain on your customers to identify where you can most effectively spend your resources.
Those who complain that they were sent nothing of value or nothing specific to them are, to an extent, saying that they felt undervalued. And if they do not feel valued by you then why should they value you? When they see who your email is from there will be no anticipation, no excitement, no urge to open it.
To change this perception of your emails requires effort and commitment on your behalf. But with half the recipients feeling they are just numbers, that bit extra must be worth it.
But the question is: what to do?
How can you make your very similar email campaign stand out from the crowd?
Send email communication that has value
Get to know and understand your email recipients
Are you using your email analytics? – target based on behaviour
What’s the average life expectancy for your customers?
Identify the areas where you can change
Where can you most effectively spend your resources (check your email analytics to see what interests your base)
Why would your email recipients value you?
How would you generate anticipation and excitement in your email communication?