Email marketing is mainly a one-way communication channel. An email campaign sends messages to a list of subscribers, providing information as in a newsletter or a sales message with instructions on how to respond. The marketer doesn’t expect the recipients to hit the reply button and send a message back to the company. In fact, most company emails are sent from a ‘no-reply’ address with a reminder that no one will read any responses from this email.
With the phenomenal growth of the social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, online marketers are beginning to realize that prospects want to join in the conversation and voice their opinions. Instead of a radio show, consumers are looking for a telephone conversation. They want to know that you are listening to them as much as they are listening to you.
There are many lessons to learn from the social networks that can help you to boost your reader engagement with your emails. Here are some of the more important lessons:
Survey Your Readers
People are more than happy to tell you just what they think about your product and services, especially if they can do so anonymously. This is what a survey allows. Surveys are ubiquitous in the marketing world because they work. Here you can gauge your readers’ preferences, attitudes and values and curtail your marketing in order to suite the majority of your readers. If you ask engaging questions, then you can use the answers to further fine-tune your marketing so you are not just shooting in the dark or throwing mud on the wall hoping some would stick.
You may ask about content for your newsletter, what your readers would like to see more of and announce changes and get reactions before you make those changes. And all this information you can get by just asking.
Personalize Your Email With A Picture
Facebook is built on the fact that people connect through pictures. When you can see a picture of the person who is ‘talking to you’ in the email then there is connection on a deeper level that just reading text. Even if the newsletter or promotional email is sent from the company as an entity, the company can still be given a face by using the picture of the CEO or the head of the marketing department. Keep in mind that people do business with people and not with companies per se. Many successful companies have used this ‘spokesperson’ model in their advertisement. Think of Dave Wendy for Wendy’s as one example.
Even before the social networks were born, leading magazines have use a head-shot of the author of an article especially in the ‘Note From the Editor’ article. This goes a long way in building relationship and bond with the company. Keep in mind that email is a more personal form of communication than a web page or press release. So keeping your message in tune with the medium cannot hurt.
Continue The Conversation On A Blog
A blog provides the perfect platform for your readers to give their reactions to a particular issue or story. You can direct your readers to your blog to continue the conversation you’ve started in the email. This would keep both your email marketing and your blog alive with subscriber comments and better engage your subscribers. Readers can have an opportunity to ask questions so you know that you are scratching where it itches.
A blog also provides an opportunity to build community among your readership. There is no way for email subscribers to interact with other subscribers, but a blog breaks down this barrier and takes the burden of keeping the conversation flowing off of your company. Not only will you answer questions, but your informed readers can also help in this process.
Make Use Of Audio And Video
Providing audio and video within your email is no longer a technical challenge, because it’s as simple as sending an HTLM email. The widespread availability of broadband access makes video and audio download a lot more practical than it was a couple years ago. And if you have your list segmented into HTML and text subscribers, then you can send the web link of the video and audio content to the text recipients and the embedded broadcast to the HTML subscribers.
An audio-visual message allows you to humanize your message and create that brand and bond for your company. These messages can include product reviews, special holiday messages, newsletter content and customer testimonials. The younger demographics will respond to these messages as evident by the popularity of video social networks such as YouTube.
Building your reader engagement is an ongoing process of learning from your subscribers and adapting to their needs with the end results of building your company brand and bottom line. You do not have to settle for just broadcasting email campaigns and newsletters in blind hope that you are hitting your target. Invite your subscribers to join the ‘econversation’.
About the author: Ray Edwards
“Ray L. Edwards is a direct marketing sales copywriter, coach and online marketing consultant who enjoys helping small to mid-size businesses optimize their online marketing results. Over the past 12 years he has helped his clients make tens of millions of dollars through his copywriting and consultation services. He is the author of several books on the subject of online marketing, many promoted under the names of other marketers (ghost written) who have profited handsomely from his writing skills. He is available to a limited number of clients each year who want to expand their businesses or want to launch with an experienced copywriter and online marketing consultant.