by Mana Ionescu
It is common for the seasoned email marketing strategist to notice a pattern of repetitive, typical and established email marketing strategies in the marketplace. There is notable emphasis on the email “holy trinity” – ” subject lines,” “creatives” and “images” – as if all email marketing only needed these three elements.
So after years of testing “subject lines,” “creatives” and “images” to get better “subject lines,” “creatives” and “images” email conversion rates are still dropping. What is the email marketer to do next?
If you, just like me at times, find yourself in this predicament, you may be what I call the “bored email marketer.”
Here are three techniques that boost creativity and help to break away from email marketing boredom:
1. Focus on concepts first not creatives and images.
According to a Merkle Interactive Services 2009 study 52% of email recipients have images turned off in their email reader (via emailstatscenter.com). So more than half of your customers will not see that carefully crafted email creative first. They will see your headline and the first few links you have most prominently placed.
So make a decision to not put creative first this year and focus on developing meaningful concepts that resonate with your target audience.
Take a good look at your goals and work back from them to map the path that will get you there. The first step in the chain that will lead to your goal is understanding the multiple ” personas ” that make up your audience. Based on those “personas” develop multiple concepts to test. Develop content to illustrate the concepts and then develop the creatives. So if you follow the analytics/ hypotheses/ test -planning/ content/ creative/ execution/ post-campaign analysis cycle, there are four other email strategy components to keep the email marketer from getting bored.
2. When you run out of concepts to test, retest concepts from a year ago.
A few years back, before Al Gore’s “fight for green” became mainstream, I developed a campaign to test if “going green” was a stronger driver for web usage than “de-clutter your life.” “Going green” failed the test. A year later, after Gore won the Nobel Peace prize and his global warming message became popular, we re-tested the same two concepts against each other and this time “going green” won.
What we learned here is that trends can change very fast, and we have to change with them, even if it means going back to an old concept. It may be old to the email marketer, but new to our customers.
3. Do the exact opposite of what you have been doing.
When you cannot move the needle enough with new tests it may be time to mix in something which is the complete opposite of what you have been doing so far. If you unsuccessfully tested images, throw in a no-image market-cell. If most of your emails have been short, try testing against a long email. If your communication language has been formal, test against informal copy.
I’m not advising here doing away with tactics that have been consistently proven, nor am I advising throwing away common sense. What I’m advocating is challenging ourselves to break away from patters that keep us stuck in an unproductive comfort zone.
Doing the opposite of what you have been doing may not prove the success you were looking for each time, but it will open up new perspectives, trigger new ideas, freshen up your strategy and keep you from becoming the bored email marketer.
About the Author
Mana Ionescu is President of Lightspan Digital, a Chicago firm that helps small businesses build their brands in their local communities through social media. Mana’s practical tips on digital and social media marketing can be found on her blog at manamica.com and Twitter @manamica.