Even though email marketing has been around for a while now, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions that surround this marketing channel. I was lucky enough to get a sit-down with email marketing expert Joseph Putnam, Owner and Copywriter at 5 North Marketing.
In the first part of the interview, we discussed topics ranging from subject lines to email marketing software to integrating email with direct mail. In the last part, we will talk about building your email list, writing emails, and formatting emails. Read on and get insider tips from someone in the email marketing trenches day after day!
Ferris: Do you have some quick little tips as far as how to build up your email list? Obviously, direct mail is one really great one – because we’re not advocates of purchasing email lists. It’s just not cool. So, taking this coffee shop example, besides direct mail, what would be some other, like maybe two more tips to build an email list?
Joseph: Sure. With the coffee shop as an example, there’s no reason to stop with people just purchasing something after receiving a postcard. The shop could have a sign or even a signup board, or they could have signup cards at the counter or on the tables, or at the place where you pour the creamer, etc. So finding ways so that every customer that comes in, you have a chance to get them onto your email list.
So maybe there could be a clipboard on the counter. Either way, you want to provide an incentive. Maybe you say something like, “If you sign up for the email list, you can get a 50% coupon for your next drink.” You’re giving people a reason to sign up. That would be the first thing, would be just to find ways to get people to sign up in the store.
Actually, I was in a coffee shop yesterday, and they had a chalkboard, and it said, “Sign up for email updates,” then it had an arrow pointing down to some signup cards where people could sign up. So in-store is one opportunity. Then everyone can do it on their website, You just have a simple signup form that accomplishes the same thing on their website.
Ferris: So, like if they put it on those little heat things they put around the coffee? Would you suggest stuff like that? Or is that a little overkill?
Joseph: I mean, it can’t hurt. You just find what works for your business. Actually, I was on a plane flight recently on Southwest, and the napkins that they handed out had a little bit of copy on them. And the copy was awesome. It said, “Did you miss our last sale,” or something like that, “Don’t miss out on the next one. Sign up for email updates.” Then it gave the website address where you could sign up.
So that’s a great example of why waste napkin space when you can get a message in front of your customers. For the coffee, you could have a sign on the table that says, “Don’t forget to sign up for email updates to get your free 50% off coupon.” Then, people could come to the counter to sign up. Basically, you take advantage of your real estate and see what you can do to get as many people to sign up as possible, without being too much and being obnoxious. There’s a balance.
Ferris: I don’t know if you’ve noticed this recently, but I’ve found that the more, not so clever, but just funny and lighthearted and relaxed the copy is, the more people sign up, or the bigger the followers that person has. Have you noticed that?
Joseph: Yeah. I think I’ve noticed conversational is good, something just simple and conversational. People don’t react well to formal, and they don’t react well to pushy. So just something simple, something conversational, yeah. People react best to that. Because, otherwise, I think if you’re too formal, if you’re too pushy, it just feels like you’re trying too hard, and people don’t respond well to that kind of copy.
Ferris: Then, as far as getting a response on emails, would you suggest HTML, like a design to the email versus text?
Joseph: It varies business to business. But, depending on the resources they have available, HTML is nice. Doing something with a header and a graphic provides a very good impression for a brand. But there are times where text only comes off like a personal email. I can think of two examples, where on one of them, I really like the branded HTML email with a graphic, and the other comes off really personal without a branded template..
Actually, an example of that would be Copyblogger. Their emails are very professional. But another example is a start-up called Clarity, which if you go to clarity.fm, that’s their website. The CEO sends an email out that’s just text only, very basic-looking, and it ends up being really refreshing because it’s just a personal email from the CEO. I don’t feel like I’m being marketed to. I feel like I’m just staying in touch with the CEO.
So it varies, and it depends on the industry and the business. Probably for most businesses, a branded email with HTML and the graphics would be preferred. But it’s possible to consider a text-only email. That works for some businesses as well.
Ferris: Do you think it’s good to, depending on the topic or the offer, change how it is shared through the email? Do you know what I mean? For instance, say you’re talking about something a little bit more personal that’s from the CEO. That could be text. But then, if it’s a really awesome deal that’s only happening for 24 hours, you would want HTML. Would you suggest something like that?
Joseph: So if you do one, maybe stick with the branded and make sure it’s a consistent branded email. But if you do the other one, for sure, if you have a special offer and you were normally doing the more personalized, text-only emails, it would make sense where you send some type of image offer that looks good and is catchy.
Ferris: Yeah, because I guess, you would really want to catch attention if it’s something you want them to act on fast, versus with text. So which industries would you suggest using text? Would it be more like law firms and things like that?
Joseph: It would be hard to make a recommendation solely based on industry. My best guess would be whether or not you want to have kind of a business look and feel, or a personal look and feel. If the emails will be very personal in nature, from the business owner to the customers, then that makes sense, which may be a law firm. It could be a coffee shop. So, yeah. I think if it’s going to be a personal contact between the owner or a company representative and people, then text-only is great and can work very well. Plus, you don’t need as much design resources to send out each email. But, I think probably most businesses would lean towards the side of it being more of a business contact. Where it ends up being the business reaching out to their customers. In that case, it would be better to have more of a professional branded email.
Joseph Putnam is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant who helps startups and small businesses convert more traffic into leads and sales. He loves the science of marketing and scheming up new ways to improve conversion rates which writes about on his blog—5 North Marketing.
There you have it! For more info about Joseph, be sure to check out his website: http://5northmarketing.com/. If you want to discuss some of these email marketing ideas one on one, call our amazing marketing consultants at 1-800-628-1804!