The Insider’s Guide to Email Advertising

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Many people believe that email marketing and email advertising is the same thing. And to a degree, those people are right. Email advertising is a segment of email marketing and email marketing is a segment of online marketing. Yes, internet marketing is a very very large world. And it’s easy to get lost. So, we’ve put together The Insider’s Guide to Email Advertising – Tips and Techniques you can use to optimize your email marketing and advertising campaigns. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Add value

Ask yourself a few questions before pressing that nerve racking “send” button:

  • If I was reading this, would I get any value or learn anything?
  • If I had only 30 seconds, would I know what this email is about?
  • Did this email improve my life, or does it have the potential to improve my life?
  • Is it too long?
  • Can I say more by writing less?

If your email has too much content, it might be deleted right away. But if your email doesn’t have enough content, it might be seen as unimportant or worthless. So how do you find that happy medium? By understanding your recipients. Get in the shoes of your target audience and play dumb; pretend that you don’t know what you know, and ask yourself the questions listed above.

Be friendly

So you have a product or service that’s better than your competitor, right? Right. Don’t bash or speak negatively about your competitors. Some businesses will do this, but it’s really not worth it. Often, bashing your competitors results in both of you losing credibility. Amazon.com doesn’t do that, and neither should you. Be completely neutral. Mind your own business in emails. Nobody likes a negative person who gives excuses for why things happen to them. Instead, be the opposite. Be the bearer of good news; be their optimism on a rainy day. But be authentic – don’t fake it. It’s true what they say… people can tell when you fake it online. Be genuinely happy to help your customers and newsletter readers.

Don’t focus on the sale

We all know about car salesmen – they just want the sale and nothing else. All too often, email marketers will blast their newsletter focusing too much on the sale. “Buy now“, “Hurry!“, “While supplies last!” are all great example of trying to get people to buy right now. Does it work? Absolutely. Should you put keywords that focus on the sales everywhere? Absolutely not. Know when to use these words, and when not to.

Focus on serving your customers. Make them happy, let them trust you and let them get to know you. One of the hardest things to do in business is to create a standing relationship with a customer that’s so strong they want to do business with you over and over again. The internet, believe it or not, sometimes makes that more difficult that it needs to be. Because the readers cannot hear your tone, you have to write things a certain way, add images and use other forms of media to get their attention.

Don’t send too much

If you send too much advertising, as in too many ads crammed into one email or too many topics are put into one email, you’ll notice a a high volume of unsubscribers. Make sure you follow the rules listed above but also understand that you’re sending information to a human, not a computer. You need to be able to give them service, information or something as valuable that improves their life, and you need to be understood as a fellow human. By putting too many images into an email, or too many sales-y keywords, you’re not sounding like a person who’s trying to connect with another person. And often your email will be sent to the SPAM folder. Here’s how many people look at their SPAM mail and search for important documents: almost none, unless otherwise specifically told to do so (when you register on a new website, they might ask you to check your SPAM mail for the activation key).

Personalize

Nothing beats being personal. Yes, we just went over this in the point above this one, but it’s extremely important to highlight. If you opened an email and the first line said “hi john.doe@email.com “, you’d dismiss it pretty quick and assume it’s junk. We all do it. If you read half the email and it sounded like a person standing on a stage, talking to 10,000 people… you’d probably dismiss that email as well. Because it’s not personal. It doesn’t involve you, specifically, and it doesn’t give you individual attention. Be the person who writes emails, even if they are sent to 10,000+ people, that sounds like your talking to an individual. Your email will be accepted lightly instead of being seen as hostile and intrusive – because you sound like you care. And as mentioned earlier… Care! Be genuinely happy to help somebody.

Sending time

This tip should be pretty straight forward, but it’s still not considered a common practice: be conscious of the time you send an email. If you send an email at 3am and it’s the first thing the recipient reads when they wake up, your ad won’t be very effective. Your message might not even be very effective. Heck, you could send a personal email to the person closest to you, and there’s a very high chance that they won’t reply, never mind accept your ad as valuable. Take a look at your industry, even look at when the most common times for emails in your industry are sent, and get to know when the best time to send an email is. For example, are the best shoppers for books buying from brick and mortar stores at 1pm on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday? If so, think about when should you be sending them a quick newsletter about your new book or discount?

Be honest

A no-brainer, right? Not for everybody. Tell your customers exactly what they should expect. Make it easy for them to buy. “Buy one get one free” is a great example, because you know exactly what to expect – if you buy one, you’ll get one free. But “buy three and save on the fourth” is less clear – it feels like if I buy three I’ll save an uncertain amount on the fourth, but it could be an amount that doesn’t matter to me. Think about it for a second and ask yourself, “Is this a clear message that everybody can understand?“. If so, you’ve made the right choice.

Size, form and position

Have you ever seen an email that’s one giant image, comes as an attachment or an ad is located in a strange or offsetting place? Probably. I think almost everybody has experienced that at least once. And it sucks for both parties. Your email isn’t received well, and the reader just got hit with another piece of spam (or so they think it is). Know where to place your ad.

If your ad is small enough to move around your email, try positioning it to the right or the left – like when you read an article and there’s an image embedded in the text. Try putting it in the center of your email, if it fits with the content. Try a few different things, then ask for feedback from a few of your trusted recipients.

Typically, an email should be largely text based. Images are heavy and hard to load, and use a lot of data on mobile devices, so stay away from really large images. Using a few small images adds interest to the article, so it’s less boring. Adding a video works well, too.

Write less, do more

Internet users have tiny attention spans. If it’s not interesting right now, it might never be interesting. One of the biggest killers for emails (and websites) is too much text. If it looks like a chapter from a book, you have too much text. A great practice is to write concise and short paragraphs. A few sentences works well. And to break up all the text: an image, ad or video. The last time I, or anybody I know, has read an email as long as this article was… probably around 1999. In internet years, that’s the stone age. That doesn’t work now – so be precise and to the point.

Summary

There was quite a few points we went over in this post today, so here’s a quick summary.

  • Be valuable. Make sure people walk away improved, or with the power to improve their life at any time.
  • Be friendly. Care for people. Be authentic about how much you care about your readers. You want to come across as a fellow human being, not a robot.
  • Don’t focus too much on the sale. It’ll come once you give the reader value and a reason to trust you.
  • Don’t send too much. Too many emails, ads or too much content can look spammy. If it looks spammy, it’ll probably get caught by a spam filter.
  • Personalize your message. You can’t email 10,000 people in one day with your unique message to all of them. But you can try to sound more like a one-on-one conversation is happening in the email, rather than a person on a stage speaking to 10,000 people.
  • Send your emails at the appropriate time. Yes, this is important.
  • Be honest. Honestly, it’s your best chance. Otherwise you won’t have much of a list to email anymore.
  • Don’t use huge ads. Half of the world accesses Facebook from their phone. How many will access their email through their phone in the coming year? Lots. Make your ad mobile friendly.
  • Don’t use attachments unless your giving something away. It seems fishy.
  • Position your ad in the right spot. Make sure it’s not intrusive or taking up too much space. Remember, you need to add value to your email.
  • Write less, do more. Be precise. Use multiple forms of media (images, videos, text, etc) to maintain attention on your email.

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