Playing devil’s advocate in regard to e-mail marketing

So, about e-mail marketing. Does it work?

Well, that’s a tricky one. In short, I don’t think it does.

I find that most opt-in emails don’t offer anything irresistible. Also, they’re often in the form of images that I have to click on to make appear. That’s wasted time, when companies only have about 2.175 seconds to catch people’s attention.

Maybe not precisely 2.175 seconds. But I never promised this analysis would be scientific.

Senders, also, are taking to heart peak online traffic reports and sending all their messages out at the same time. That translates to an avalanche of e-mails I’m rarely in the mood to review. (Also, the avalanche can often camouflage something that’s actually important — you know, a personal email addressed only to me?)

Anyway, a lot of websites, including this one, recommend best practices for e-mail marketing content that offer a good start. I’ll take it a step further and recommend that companies hire ex-journalists, who know that a subject line deserves as much careful consideration as a Page 1 headline and who can write snappy, useful content that is both enticing and direct.

A few other tips:

* Don’t operate on a knee-jerk basis. Research is useful, but apply it only when it makes sense to you. Success sometimes comes from rule-breaking.
* Communicate consistently, but don’t send out messages at the same time every day or week. Save email communications for events of actual importance, and then write content that adequately conveys the importance.
* Craft a holistic communications strategy. Make sure your tone and content is consistent across platforms, so customers and prospects can recognize and appreciate your unique voice.

Finally, ditch the whole-message images. You may think they add polish to a fairly black-and-white medium, but they build an unwanted layer of insulation between you and your audience.



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