Raise your hand if you’re being bombarded by content from all around you. I thought so. Me, too.
Hundreds of times a day I get alerts about new Facebook posts, new LinkedIn posts, new Google+ posts, new voicemail messages, DMs from Twitter folks, and of course, a hardy diet of emails – the good ones (that I want to read) and the bad (spam and other unwanted junk).
So it was with a steely determination to learn how to improve my emails that I attended Nancy Harhut’s 2014 NEDMA conference session on “The Science Behind Emails that Persuade.”
Nancy is the Chief Creative Officer at the Wilde Agency here in greater Boston. I always get new ideas from her sessions. Once again, she did not disappoint. (Every agency needs a Nancy. Just brilliant.)
My background may be in print buying, but my heart is in marketing – especially with content – so today’s post focuses on email marketing tips. I’ve written this weekly email blog since 1999, so naturally I was most intrigued by Nancy’s session.
Here are the top 7 tips I learned that day.
1. Pay special attention to subject lines.
Subject lines drive opening rates, which is why they matter so much. Ideally, they should be about 35 characters, tops. Nancy said about 54% of first opens occur on mobile devices, so be concise.
2. Use eye magnet words.
They really do “jump out” and attract the human eye. We “skim and scan” these days, so use words that have the power to draw in the reader. Some eye magnet words are “New” or any variation, like “introducing), “Finally,” “Soon,” “Now,” “Secret,” and “Free.”
A definite “eye magnet” word is a person’s name – which is why personalized direct mail also increases response rates. Nancy said using personalization in the subject line gets a 12% lift to the email’s opening rate. Our own name is very dear to us. It’s the “principle of liking” that’s at play here. We’re more likely to do a favor for someone who has our name or a similar name. I know it’s true for me.
3. Position your email message for a fast response.
Something called the principle of urgency comes into play here, so use terms that create urgency. Some examples Nancy used are “deal of the day,” “while supplies last,” “ends tonight, and “last chance.”
4. Take advantage of the ripple effect of the “Consistency Principle.”
I learned the first small “yes” we give to someone easily leads to more “larger” ones, because once people commit, they’re in it for the long term. Nancy used Groupon as an example. “Because you bought…” is commonly used in their emails. Likewise, once you register for a product or service on a site, you’ll get effective emails that use phrases like, “You’ve registered…now enjoy XX!”
5. Using “Social Proof” helps you sell more.
We tend to do what other people do – especially if they’re anything like us. If we’re hesitant about a decision we’re about to make, we may look at the actions of others. If people we know/like/identify with are doing it, we’re much more likely to. Think about a “don’t walk” street sign. Imagine there’s no traffic in sight. Though we initially obey the sign, once others cross the street, we’re more likely to follow.
6. Negatives are more powerful than positives.
We’re “2x more motivated to avoid pain than achieve gain.” So put this powerful principle to use in your emails. For example, “You’ve NO idea what you missed!” and “Only 10 seats left!”
7. Use journalists’ secret: 5W’s and 1H.
It’s funny, I had started noticing how many blog posts open with “Who, “What,” “When, “Where, “Why,” or “How,” – and Nancy made a great point of their power. I use them more and more. Also, use numbers and lists to get your emails opened. Literally use numbers rather than spell out the words (“13 Ways to Improve Your Emails” is easier to scan than “Thirteen Ways to….”)
These are just a handful of the tips Nancy shared. They work as well for blog posts and, I imagine, for a lot of direct mail. Start paying attention to all the emails you get, all the blog posts that pass by your eyeballs, and postcards or other direct mail you receive, and make note of the ones you actually read. What was it that made you look?
©2014 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.