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Does anyone read your emails?

These days, any marketer can throw up a tweet with a hashtag, post a blog or tag something on Facebook. But a successful marketer knows that email is still the best way to reach out.

The key to success is first getting any email read, then acted upon. That means there must be a serious point to the email. And today it’s all about content that the recipients want and trust.

Too many emails I see daily are the shallowest of ads. They appear just slapped together. They’re not interesting, informative or convincing. Indeed, if the subject line doesn’t grab my initial attention, I don’t go past there. But the subject line notwithstanding, no matter how many experts on email marketing one reads, the three keys to success are always the same: content, content and more content.

Hitting a home run with email requires a strict focus on the message. Make certain it reflects the subject line, which should be carefully tailored to the recipients’ interests. Then, the email itself must deliver the expected information.

Equally important is recognizing that most people want to feel like they’re part of a “club” or group. Customers are a special group. Every email should acknowledge them as such. Marketers call this “creating a tribe,” while psychologists dub it “social identity theory.” Call it what you want, but create that group feeling with your content. Moreover, this also sets you up to make special offers exclusively to them from time to time.

Successful email marketers also recommend being emotional in the content. People are emotionally stimulated by poignancy, positivity, shock, fear and humor, experts say. A Wharton School of Business study of most-read and shared content found that it appealed to basic emotions. Telling stories that touch a reader’s emotions and headlines that shock, make people laugh or create a feeling of intrigue will draw them in.

When you do make a special offer, take a page from Amazon’s playbook and subtly add urgency to act now. How do they do it? They immediately tell us how many of the items are left from each vendor. The message they’re really sending us is that we can lose out on the item at that great price if we don’t act.

Another interesting psychological phenomenon when it comes to making offers comes from a supermarket study. Shoppers were offered 24 different samples of jams. Some bought, while most just tasted. But when only six samples were offered, 20 percent more samplers bought. Lesson: Avoid setting up the “psychology of confusion” in any email offering by strictly limiting choices and the results will likely be better.

Finally, less can be more. Use email sparingly. It’s definitely not about hammering your customers or prospects with messages or pitches, albeit if you looked at my inbox you’d realize a lot of marketers apparently think it is. Moreover, keep the writing simple, today’s writing experts say. When you have a good content subject to share it’s time to email — when you don’t, don’t.

While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media might be the marketing sweethearts of the day, the truth is the well-planned use of email is still the No. 1 digital method to reach customers and prospects.



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