The film Gattaca had four letters, ATGC, highlighted on posters and the title sequence. I found it graphically jarring. I was told later, by a rather smug IT-type, the letters were, pause for a little titter, the initials of the building four blocks of DNA, and the design was rather ‘clever’. It seemed I was not.
That’s the problem with humour; it can be hurtful. Comedians tend to change their delivery according to the reactions of their audience. It is difficult to judge the response when at a distance, such as when using email so, for once, our data is returned a bit too late to make a difference.
It’s unlikely you’ll have a column in your email marketing lists which show each subscriber’s sense of humour, so you have undreamed of opportunities to upset them. Be too mild, and you run the risk of being unfunny. Too much the other way and disaster looms.
Subscribers enjoy a bit of humour in emails, particularly enewsletters. The critical word here is bit. Go in too hard and you run the risk of losing your message. It might be better not to target the outright guffaw and go for the amused grin in the early stages. One distinct problem is that humour is not universal but the answer is to split your email marketing lists.
Do you enjoy the gentle humorous comments on situations? When describing the user interface of an electronic device, you might smile if it said that you don’t have to wait for a ‘bring your child to work day’ to get it to work. It’s not laugh out loud of course, but, as we all know, empathy plays a massive part in email marketing.
However, will your subscribers respond in the same way? Those with your background, who struggle with IT and have children who don’t, will react more positively than those who don’t.
Which brings us onto word play. It is best described as a joke that just 25% of those who read it find funny, but 75% say they do. Harsh, but it’s true. You, however, need to ensure that you are not talking down to your subscribers. You want them onside.
It is best to avoid jokes and stick to humorous comments. That way you are much less likely to cause offence, as there should be little to object to. Avoid the normal pitfalls. Anything aimed at a particular group is extremely dangerous, no matter how funny. It is best to aim at generating a smile rather than a smirk.
If you are sure of your audience, be subtle as there’s nothing wrong in making someone feel a little smug. However, remember my reaction to Gattaca. Don’t go too obscure.
You want your humour to bring your subscribers to relate to you. You need to generate positive emotions. It’s the particular email marketing list that you want to target. Don’t concentrate on the product.
There are lots of reasons for being humorous. It is, unfortunately, all too easy to offend, so take care out there.