Google, you’ve done it again.
Many of you experienced Gmail’s switch to categories in your accounts last week. Now you have emails categorized into primary, social, promotions and updates. This means easier navigation for you as a user. Your personal emails were often lost in a stream of promotions, facebook or twitter updates, listservs, etc.
As an end user, it’s calmed my nerves. I don’t have to do the work to separate anything anymore and it’s thrilling. In retrospect, it’s a serious slam in the face to email marketing because we hate to consider everything as “promotions”. The word doesn’t always sit well.
But here’s what we have to remember: if the end consumer likes the separation, then email marketers have to like it too, and we have to stop relying on
emails-in-your-face to get the message across.
Here’s how we should adapt:
1. Work on your super punch line
5 words or less? Something like that. Get creative, folks. Otherwise, your email won’t even make it into “Promotions”. You’ll get knocked down to “Updates”, which holds the undecided pile pouring over from promotions and gets lost in bank statements, confirmations, etc. Is it better or worse? I don’t know yet. But the hierarchy is frightening.
According to Salesforce’s marketing stats, 33% of emails are opened just on the subject line alone! In addition, 64% of people said they open an email because of the subject line.
Bottom line: now is the time, more than ever, to experiment with the whole “less is more” concept in the subject line.
2. Send them content they WANT to look for
In a sense, we have to rework the “Promotions” tab to a “Content” tab. This is going to separate the good content marketers from the awful ones. It’s the truth - if your emails are incorporating an added value to constituents, they’re going to go look for it. I know I do it. If you’re selling travel deals, why not incorporate some interesting itineraries for their trip in the same email? Why not redesign the approach and throw in some content about a destination’s cool factor?
In essence, you have to meet the “why read this” more accurately. Show consumers or businesses that you’re the smartest, most thoughtful, and targeted organization. Show them you want to give back. Send them neat stuff to read. Braid the deals, promotions, services or products in between.
3. Reconsider your release times
I’ve noticed that during the work day, I only have time to read and reply to what I get in the primary email section. However, at the end of the day, I’ll scan through the promotions and social tabs to see if there’s anything that catches my eye.
So, assuming I’m normal, I think other people will do the same. For example, I’m a sucker for Gilt deals and LivingSocial Escapes. In my opinion, they should reorganize to release in the late afternoon so they’re at the top when I’m skimming down the list.
4. Find more significance in recipient behavior
We’re not all sure how recipient behavior will change just yet, but we need to learn the lesson that people want organization in their lives and they want to have more of a say in what’s presented to them. Let’s listen to how it goes. It could be the greatest thing that happened to marketing. And hey, since the emails aren’t coming down the main pipe, that’s less people getting grumpy enough to unsubscribe. If it’s in promotions, it’s more tolerated.
Lastly, open rates may decrease a tad, but they should mean more, too. Someone scanned their promotions to seek you out. It’s less accidental, so it should be more significant. I just spun that one into a positive, didn’t I?