E-Mail Marketing Insights From the Industy

I just spent the last two days at the first-ever Exact Excellence User Conference, an event aimed at advancing the best practices for the growing field of e-mail marketing. The conference covered a variety of issues related to the subject, including deliverability, dynamic content, list building and segmentation, small- and medium-size business success stories, and more. I co-chaired a discussion titled “Creative Best Practices for Email Marketing”, which was essentially a primer and prod to the industry to do a better job crafting their messages.

One of the primary benefits of e-mail is also one of its chief problems: it’s too easy. Because it’s so easy to create and send a message, the creators don’t spend enough time sweating the details. Far more than the subject line, we need to be concerned with the content and copy, headlines, the images used, the emotion of the piece. I think people forget that the final product will be a marketing message designed to communicate something about your product and company. The same care and caution that goes into crafting other marketing messages should be (but – sadly – often isn’t) apparent.

The keynote address was given by Seth Godin (pictured above with me), author of several books including “Permission Marketing”, “Purple Cow”, and “Free Prize Inside”. Seth is arguably a marketing genius, but I think the cover of Purple Cow describes him best: “Perhaps the most intuitive marketer on the planet” (or something like that.) The point is, Seth has a grasp of what feels right, and it’s a simple litmus test we should be applying to all marketing communications.

As for e-mail, Seth points out that every marketing message you send to your list should be anticipated, personal, and relevant. And, like a purple cow, it should be remarkable. If it’s not worth remarking about, why would anyone feel compelled to either act on your message or pass the information along?

The Balloonist

I received this from my brother-in-law today and couldn’t resist sharing it…

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, “You must be a Republican.”

“I am, how did you know?”

“Well,” she answered, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me.”

The man smiled and responded, “You must be a Democrat.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist. “How did you know?”

“Well,” he said, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You’ve risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it’s my fault.”