communications strategy, strategy

Email: Still Here, Still Works—Just Keep It Fresh

Sandra Stewart | July 11, 2012

Remember the time before Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest?

There was email.

There still is. For many companies—especially B2B firms—email rightfully remains a primary way to communicate with customers, prospects, partners, and other interested parties. But with the bright, shiny object of social media dangling before our eyes, it’s easy to lose focus on what makes boring old email effective. (Tip #1: don’t be boring.)

Much of getting email right involves getting the basics right, and it’s worth reviewing the following aspects of your email program on a regular basis to be sure you’re hitting the mark.

Sometimes clichés are true:  content really is king

If you don’t consistently give people something they find useful, funny or provocative, and that speaks to the reason they wanted to hear from you in the first place, they will tune out. In a heartbeat. And it has to be engagingly presented, in language your audience understands.

Nobody loves you that much: send selectively

Not even your mother wants to hear about everything you’re doing. (And do you want to tell her?) Segmentation is key to an active, effective email program. We’ve heard the argument that “people want to keep up with what we’re doing,” but it won’t wash. People want to keep up with what you’re doing only if it’s what they’re into. Chances are you’re into a number of things, and they appeal to different audiences. Send too many segment-specific messages to your entire list, and you’ll see people check out.

Garbage in, garbage out: manage your mailing list

It’s a drag. But if you don’t keep your list up-to-date and accurately segmented by target audience, your results will suffer, and it will be hard to figure out why. You won’t be reaching everyone who wants to hear from you, and the percentage of unresponsive addresses will increase. In these circumstances, a clickthrough rate may not tell you much about how effective your content is—a low rate could mean that no one’s interested in your latest missive, or that there’s so much deadwood on your list it only looks like no one’s interested, or that the people who are interested aren’t on your list.

Take a hard, honest look at your email program at regular intervals. This affordable workhorse can continue to serve you well, but only if you keep it fresh.


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