Lovely walk into the hills of Portland, including Washington Park, the lovely Rose Garden, and also the two uncovered, 100-year-old, reservoir. As I get more fit I can go walking and then jogging and then running and then scampering into the lovely lush evergreens in the hilly ring around Portland proper — wonderful, verdant, gorgeous, and fragrant.
I try to read through my RSS feeds every day. Today I stumbled upon an article by my friend Christopher S Penn, entitled Social media now directly influences search rankings, that shows that Google is playing Tri-D chess in a world where most companies are mastering checkers:
If you’re marketing something, there’s now a direct incentive to build your network as large as possible among your prospective customers. Size matters.
Part of our job at Abraham Harrison is reaching out to as many audiences as possible, as proficiently as possible. Our basic necessity is reaching someone, but we want to go above and beyond, we want to engage and begin a conversation. Many of our staff members have come into contact with this and the question that I posed was- How do you write emails for a high response?
Emails are one of the best ways to gauge ROI. Responses can mean new and important addresses and contacts, they can lead to beneficial and symbiotic relationships and they can open doors to further business development. Phillip Rhodes is our go-to Chief Programmer and our resident yoda on keeping email copy clean and simple.
Language should be simple but not stupid. Don’t write like an over-educated-institutionalized-english-major, but also don’t write a children’s book.
As seen in Made to Stick and many other marketing texts, there’s a large disconnect between the two. Simplifying is not “dumbing down.” If a colleague would much rather read simple text and concrete ideas, then so would your audience. Write for them, not for you.
HTML emails while potentially pretty, are generally gawdy and spammy. If you’re message is clean, clear, well written, and elegant, then you don’t need bright colors and big pictures.
They’re a bonus, sure, in some cases. But never a necessity. Your message should speak for itself. The moment you’ve lost your audience’s interest is the moment your email is headed to spam and you’ve lost potential ROI.
Director of International Business Rodrigo Martucci and Director of Client Services Dan Krueger agree. They also reiterate a one link maximum. Yes, a link to an SMNR is very helpful and most likely necessary for your email. However, drop more than one link and the email instantly becomes spam like. Business2Community recently wrote 19 Boring But Effective Email Deliverability Best Practices about effective email delivery practices that also covered some key points:
- Avoid using “trigger” words.
- AVOID USING ALL CAPS AND EXCESSIVE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!
- Include a CAN-SPAM compliant footer.
- Keep your list squeaky clean.
- Don’t get too big for your britches.
- Are you sure? Are you sure you’re sure?
- Ask to be whitelisted.
- Address the subscriber, one at a time.
- Timing is everything.
- Pay attention to your subject line.
- Design for the preview pane.
- Offer both text and HTML-based email.
- Assume images will not display.
- Test in multiple email programs.
- Avoid temptation for innovation, in some cases.
- Consistency is key.
- Don’t fatigue your list.
- Analyze, Rinse and Repeat.
This list included some new favorites of mine:
1) Avoid using “trigger” words. Not always assumed. Off the bat you might guess that words like “free,” “money,” “win,” and “discount” may increase traffic to your site but they actually have the opposite effect. Younger generations are more and more jaded, they only see cons and false opportunities.
2) Keep your list squeaky clean. This is HUGE at Abraham Harrison. If recipients unsubscribe, they’re doing you a favor and they’re letting you know their feelings upfront. Your next email won’t change their mind. This doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, it just means they may not be your target audience. Quality over quantity here. You shoot yourself in the foot if you believe you can change their minds, since they may spread word about your lack of email protocol. Instead we, at Abraham Harrison, ensure that we properly document each subscriber’s reactions to our emails, out of respect.
9) Address the subscriber, one at a time. Another biggie at Abraham Harrison. The more personable you are, the better you’ll come off. At the very least, use your recipient’s name in the email. If you’re going to take advantage of auto-fill functions, then take the extra time to personalize each email.
Often it’s important to remember that it’s not the action, but the reaction when something goes wrong in email delivery. If a recipient is unhappy with your email protocol, interact with them and they’ll walk away with a positive perception of you. Business2Community points out a necessity to please two filters: those of spam and those of your human subscribers. Be sure to check out the Andrew Hanelly’s article in its entirety here.