Email Marketing: Harsh Reality Check

Are Your Email Marketing Efforts Lining the Bottom of Bird Cages?

Email Marketing - Bird Cages


It feels like it sometimes with email marketing.  Right?

You check your email stats and they’re hitting the industry averages, but you want more.  You don’t just want them to read it…you want them to love it.

Of course, these feelings of do they or don’t they like your emails feed your own insecurities making it that much harder for you to create your next email marketing communications.  The pressure is there every week or every month to follow-through on your commitment to your subscribers, but you just aren’t feelin’ it.

So, how do you turn this around?  How do you get out of the dingy basement of email emptiness and into the groove of writing an email newsletter that offers your subscribers real value they want and deserve?

Truth?  I don’t know how YOU do it, but I’ve outlined my new email marketing strategy below.   I don’t know if this approach will really work, but I’m going to give it a whirl and measure what happens.

What I do know is having a list of subscribers is an important responsibility as well as a valued asset and that email marketing converts better than social or search.  So, it deserves attention.

More truth?  I’m not all that dissatisfied with my email newsletter results.  My unsubscribes few and far between.  My open rates are solid as are the click-through rates.  I also know there are lots of tips and tricks to make email marketing more effective.  But there is this nagging feeling I could do better.

Given I’m looking to do a website overhaul, evaluating my email marketing is a natural extension of the process. Of course, there is also a chance I could tick off a few loyal subscribers, but I certainly hope not.

1.  ENV or Email Newsletter Value 

As a marketer, I try to add value in all of my communications.  But ‘value’ is subjective.  What is of value to one, isn’t necessarily value to another.

Unfortunately, there are too few emails in my inbox that provide any ENV.  Most are non-stop pitch fests.  There are about a dozen email newsletters I read regularly and each is very different.  Some are formulaic while others are a true pleasure to read.  Chances are pretty high that the same holds true for my subscribers as well as yours.

I read somewhere that there are three guideposts to creating value in email:  Learn, Laugh, Love.  Am I sharing something that I learned, that made me laugh or that I was really in love with?

Since my email newsletter is all about taking marketing action, I rely heavily on just one of the L’s: Learn – tried and true techniques, new tools, etc.

Action Step:  Add more content that generates chuckles and some lovin’.

2. Become their Ibuprofen

All of my email newsletter content is relevant to marketing topics and online techniques, but I could do a better job of digging deeper into the pain points my subscribers feel by addressing some peripheral topics around their online marketing  challenges.

Action Step: Dig deeper.

3.  Variety, the Spice of Life

Points 1 and 2 suggest a little more spice could be improve my newsletters. But one has to be careful not to become a potpourri of stuff.  Whatever I include has to hit the sweet spot of what my readers want and expect from me.   That was the deal when they signed up and I need to honor that.

Action Step:  Test different communications formats (e.g. interviews with others, videos, podcasts, ebooks, etc.

4.  KISS – Keep It Short & Sweet

This communications principle is as old as the hills yet as valid today as ever…perhaps more so. My initial email marketing attempts were long. I would prattle on thinking what I was sharing was so bloody important.  Or I included too much information. My latest version of my newsletter is much crisper, but I may be able to make it more so.

Action Step:  Always offer the audience the choice to decide how much detail they want.

5.  Two T’s:  Timely & Targeted

There are those who like to be first with the hot news. My preference, is to let others handle distributing hot news and wait to figure out what, if any, impact the news has on how one markets.  I  believe my subscribers are too busy running their businesses to care about keeping up on what’s hot online.  They want information they can use.  But what if they really do want hot info?

Action Step:  Think of a way to deliver hot news and measure how they respond.

Targeting of my email list is one area I could definitely improve.  By sending specific messages to those who are most interested in particular topics, I automatically deliver more value.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done the research to segment my list and I didn’t set up my list capturing system to allow me to do this easily.

Action Step:  Research current subscribers and segment lists accordingly.  Set-up new email data collection and autoresponder system.

6.  Give to Get

Sometimes I spend so much time on other marketing efforts, I ignore creating and giving gifts in the forms of ebooks, check lists, cheat sheets, etc.

Action Step:  I need to increase this activity and make it an on-going process.

7.  More Social Media Outreach

One area I need to enhance is distributing my email marketing efforts through social media.  Why?  Well, creating a loop between email and social media will create a push-pull synergy.  Social media is great for pulling in new subscribers while email’s role is for individual followup and for pushing out information.   Of course, I have some of this automated through my email service provider, but I could do a much better job in this area.

Action Step:  Create a social media outreach process for email marketing campaigns.

Okay…that’s my strategy for getting my email marketing to fly a little higher and stay out of the bird cage.  What’s yours?

Are there other techniques I should add to my strategy?

Are you less than pleased with your email newsletter results?  Does it feel frustrating? Are your ignoring your subscribers as a result?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Let’s collaborate and see what we can come up with to take advantage of the power of email marketing.  Okay?


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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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