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The Email Impact: Benefits and Biases

Copywriting Rules to Optimize the Email Impact

You know that email is only one of the ways you should be communicating with your audience. That said, it is an important one, with powerful potential. However, as with any marketing effort, it needs to be handled with finesse and insight. Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your emailing, and avoid some all-too-common pitfalls.

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Let’s face the facts. Email, albeit less popular than texting with the youngest demographic, is nonetheless a very potent tool for marketing Your most senior audience members are probably still using the telephone as well as email, but telephone marketing is so toxic that this should be avoided. You should make every effort to find other ways to reach out to these folks.

However, email service is available to almost anyone who has an internet-capable device, and this modality has uniquely powerful characteristics. Emails are receivable on most equipment with a web connection, unlike some text messages, which may be blocked from transmission between some devices and systems Emails offer greater versatility because of the variety of content and media that they can include, and the tracking options they offer. (although overly flashy fonts and graphics can also consign your email into a recipient’s spam folder, as well).

Avoid being ostentatiously clever

When composing your email, remember that you are barging into a person’s day, device, office, or home. You are demanding that your recipient take their time to read your missive. Be conscious of this and considerate of their precious time. You have only a few seconds, or less, to convince them to read on. Be sure that you are being clear and concise, rather than merely clever or cute. This can be interpreted as being pretentious and irritating – not constructive. Being straightforward, brief, and to the point about what you want to say is going to garner greater good feeling on the part of your audience. It may also avoid the decidedly unpleasant alternative of your reader dumping your email into their trash file.

Focus on the benefits of your product or service

You might decide to just ignore your email marketing efforts and concentrate on sales newsletters instead. If you choose this strategy, then please remember that you still are asking your audience to take their time to read your content. To make this investment of effort worth their while, you need to concentrate on the benefits of what you offer, rather than the flashy features of your product or service. Remember that your communication, to successfully retain the reader’s attention, has to be all about your customer, and not primarily about you or your product. What problem can you identify that the customer may never have realized was bothering them? What issue can you articulate with precision comment in with insight, and offer to solve? What need can you pinpoint, highlight, and promise to fulfill? What new development in the field can you share that will inform and enlighten your reader and save them time reading about it somewhere else? Avoid spinning out the hype and never actually conveying information, only to lead the poor reader to an expensive Call to Action, the way that some marketers do (this writer’s pet peeve!). It’s the customer’s needs that should take up space in your newsletter.

Exploit the negativity bias (carefully)

Current research in neurology suggests that a human brain ordinarily responds “more strongly to stimuli it deems negative”. This tendency is hardwired into us through evolution. It makes sense – negative stimuli can be a warning signal to an organism that danger is near, and crucial to be remembered so it can be avoided in the future. Given this characteristic of our primate brains, be cautious about using negative images or words in your marketing. Too many depressing or dramatic messages can have a persistent impact on the mood of your reader and potentially affect their perception of your own brand. Be very cautious, therefore, in the way you word your text. You should try to make sure that there are five times as many positive messages or factoids in your content as negative ones. This, according to researchers, is the necessary ratio to offset the brain’s negativity bias. However, you can have a bit of fun with this phenomenon when crafting subject lines and titles for your emails. With care, you can shock and attract attention to emails with titles such as “Why SEO Copywriting Will Never Regain Its Former Importance” or “12 Ways Your Website is Failing”. This sort of attention-grabbing copy is particularly helpful if your CTA response rate has been less than stellar.

Email is and remains powerful. Whether you choose to blast your marketing message directly via emails, or to send your target audience sales newsletters filled with useful information, you will need to respect your readers. Their time is valuable, and they will not thank you for wasting it. Be brief, be clear, be useful, helpful, and informative. Make sure that you address how you can meet their needs rather than focusing on your product or service explicitly, and you will find your readers much more receptive to your underlying message.

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