Tell Me What You Want (What You Really, Really Want)
Posted by Amy Linert on Wed, Aug 29, 2012
Members of the 90s British pop groupblog spicegirls “The Spice Girls” might not have had the world’s longest-running entertainment careers, but the theme of their top hit “Wannabe” struck a chord with many: knowing what your partner wants can lead to a highly successful relationship (and an in with the Olympics to boot). This concept is especially simple when applied to the courtship that occurs when brands and their fans form successful relationships via email.
High email open rates aren’t impossible, nor difficult, to obtain. In fact, one of my clients, a sports car racing series, recently scored a 55 percent open rate, 17 percent click-through and no unsubscribes with one blast. How? It’s not rocket science. If you want people to pay attention to what you send them, especially in an email, ask them what they want and provide just that. For reference, the standard open rate on an email blast is 19.4 percent.
For most brands, the hardest parts of the email engagement process are having enough ongoing content available, and doing the legwork needed to understand which content fans want (so that the fan gets something in return and becomes a brand loyalist).
To have enough ongoing content, first build a breathing editorial calendar that categorizes content (video, articles, pictures, polls, guest bloggers, etc.) into buckets with delivery deadlines. For the first few months, highlight that content within the already existing email communiques, like the weekly blast.
Now that the content is available, it’s time to understand which content is desired by which fans. Ask them to indicate the category(ies) of content they’d like to receive from the brand. Some fans may just want news and updates, some may want it all. In my client’s case, for example, a few only wanted to know when new videos were posted.
Then, email ONLY the content related to the fan’s opted-in preference.
These three simple steps will bring a brand both higher email open rates and an engaged target audience that feels that their wants are valuable.
For brands that may not have the budget or manpower for this type of customization but still want to gain higher open rates, look into improving the content strategy and/or the email design. The racing series has issued a weekly one-size-fits-all email to its fans for a number of years, but an improved content strategy and design template was implemented last year. That alone has boosted year-over-year open rates for the weekly blast from 11.4 percent to 16.5 percent, and click-through has gone from 2.1 percent to 3.3 percent.
There’s one lyric in “Wannabe” that rings most true to email marketing: “If you really bug me, then I’ll say goodbye.” Give fans what they want (what they really, really want), and you’ll avoid annoying them to the point of disengagement.