Tag Archives: marketing

Why less is always more in marketing emails

What differentiates a good marketing email from a bad one, in your mind? Perhaps it’s the imagery or the use of fonts. Maybe it’s the copy – or lack thereof.

My theory of “less copy is more money” was proven valid last week in one of my company’s sponsorship emails.

The entire email is an image with strong calls-to-action.
The entire email is an image with strong calls-to-action.

This is an example of the email for our upcoming event, SSOW. The subject line was simply (Your company’s) Involvement in Shared Services & Outsourcing Week. 

This is why I thought this email was so great:

  1. The calls-to-action are extremely apparent
  2. The use of colored fonts against a dull background really pop aesthetically and are very professional
  3. There are no block lines of copy – because that is really all that’s necessary!!!
  4. It treats the reader with respect – want to see the agenda? Click there. Want to see the list of attendees? Click here. Want to Register. Click here. The imagery and words are implied, therefore we don’t need to tell them what to do, which leads me to …
  5. The epitome of great writing, and therefore great marketing emails, is to “show” and not “tell.” What does this mean? We’re showing them how to navigate the email and more importantly, we’re showing them the value they’ll receive at the event through easily digestible tidbits.

Anddddd….. drumroll please.

How did it perform??

The marketing manager says,

While still aesthetically appealing, the reader is drowned in copy here.
While still aesthetically appealing, the reader is drowned in copy here.

“There were three things that we did differently with this email that we were a little bit worried about:

  • No downloadable links. Only requests that pop up to an email
  • We had only TWO items they would request: Spex Prospectus and Current Attendee List
  • A image based email with hardly any text. So almost like sending an infographic. And of course making it look fabulous and pretty :)”

All three test  had very positive results:

  • 19 actives. 7 of these we received in the first 10 minutes.
  • 21% open rate

Compare that to the previous email (on the right) that had:

  • 1 active
  • 11% open rate

Well done, well done.

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Create great copy: Things to remember

Who says that writers don’t know science? Writing is a science! If it weren’t, then anything that was ever written for marketing or advertising purposes would do its job and make you fast cash.

Know your audience.

The more you know, the better targeted and relevant your copy will be. Ask yourself:

  • —What does their everyday life look like? Who do they work with? What websites do they read?
  • —What are they passionate about? Hobbies?
  • —What past products/services have they purchased and how does your offering compare? Once this is identified, however, it’s ineffective to use comparison words in the copy itself. For instance, instead of saying “Our vacuum cleaner is better than the common household brand.” You identify how it is better, ie., “Our vacuum cleaner has five times the suction as other brands.” Now you’re showing them, not just telling them.

Identify key motivators.

A gerund is a noun acting as a verb. It ends in
A gerund is a noun acting as a verb. It ends in “-ing.” Awesome cartoon courtesy of Boggletondrive.com.

Great copy motivates people to feel, think or do something. One way of achieving this is by addressing them personally.— I don’t mean to say that you should call them out by name – I mean that they need to trust you. They need to like you.

  • —You can reach users by speaking directly to them – be conversational and as specific as possible. Avoid sweeping statements.
  • —Don’t use passive voice — write in the present tense (avoid gerunds, or, the “ing”)
  • —Short, Simple and Sincere (one way of doing this is by avoiding adjectives)

Layout matters.

The way you position words, pictures and paragraphs in your website copy or email are important.

  • —Indent sections & number paragraphs
  • —Capitalize and BOLD sparingly. Does anyone underline anymore?

What’s next. 

—Include a testimonial.

  • It’s always better to have someone else say how great you are so that you don’t have to. A brief and convincing quote from a respected source adds credibility to your campaign.

—Keep your copy clean and concise.

  • Cut unnecessary words and consolidate ideas.
  • Have someone else read it to see if they understand the message.

—Avoid weasel words.

  • Weasel words include: may, maybe, hope
  • Instead, use words that emote power and prestige:  will and can

10 marketing email phrases to avoid

The Grammar Gram is back. Time after time, I find myself making the same edits to emails across the board – old habits die hard. We all know by now that brevity is key, so if you won’t take my word for the below, perhaps you’ll take Inc. Magazine’s tips?

They say marketers can increase the likelihood of getting a response to emails by avoiding the following trite and ineffective phrases. I agree and disagree with some of the below, so here goes:

  1. “I hope you are well…”

The idea behind this phrase is to express positive concern for the customers so that they will think kindly on whatever you’re about to propose. However, unless you’re actually friends with somebody, inquiring about his or her health rings false.

Hannah’s take: I start most every single one of my personal emails with this line. I would never use it in a marketing email, however, because it’s a waste of precious, precious time and space.

  1. “I am writing to you because…”

These are just wasted words. Customers already know that you’re writing to them with some purpose in mind. Rather than pointing out that you’re writing for a reason, jump immediately to the reason.

Hannah’s take: Agreed. This goes along with my most-hated remarketing email the begins like this – “I wanted to check in with you and see if anything has changed since my last outreach…” If I were the recipient, I’d already be moving my mouse to the delete button. How about instead replace it with, “Have you given a second glance to the materials I sent over a couple of days ago?” “We were wondering if what’s holding you back could be reversed with …” or “Given your expertise, we believe your attendance at the event would be invaluable to …”

  1. “In today’s business world…”

Sentences that begin this way always end in a platitude, like “managers must be cost-conscious.” Telling customers something that’s painfully obvious doesn’t make you seem like an expert. It makes you seem like you think the customer is stupid.

Hannah’s take: I can’t summarize better than the above, but the good news is I rarely see this! Side note: Editorializing (where you’re gratuitously offering an opinion on a matter for which you’re not an obvious expert) is different than leading in with a quote or statistic.

  1. “[Our product] reduces costs and increases revenue.”

Every product that’s sold business-to-business makes these exact same promises. Unless you can put numbers on them, talking about cost savings and revenue growth is just so much empty noise.

Hannah’s take: PREACH. Again, I don’t see this very much, if at all, but could you imagine….

  1. “[Our product] enables/empowers users to…”

Either your product does “X” or customers do “X” with your product. The concept of “enabling” or “empowering” customers to do “X” adds extra verbiage and an unnecessary level of abstraction.

Hannah’s take: This kind of verbiage usually happens when the copy of a marketing email is pulled from homepage copy. It should go without saying, but not everyone on the team is a prolific writer and therefore no one’s writing should be taken word-for-word in your emails. More importantly, however, website copy and email marketing copy are in two different media – therefore the messaging needs to target the intended audience.

  1. “[Our product] was designed specifically to…”

The idea behind this phrase is that “if it was designed to do ‘X’ it must be good at doing ‘X.’ ” However, customers don’t care about your design process; they just want to know how things will be better if they buy “X.”

Hannah’s take: Eh, moot point

  1. “I would like to know if you’d be interested…”

As a general rule, customers don’t care about what you want. Stating your wants and needs keeps the focus on you rather than on what you can do for the customer. Your credibility suffers accordingly.

Hannah’s take: While I agree that customers don’t care about “us” or “our company,” I’m not sure if this phrase really means that.

  1. “I am absolutely certain you will enjoy…”

Really? Absolutely? Either you’re exaggerating or you’re insane, because you can’t predict the future and you certainly can’t read the customer’s mind before the customer has even had a chance to think about your offering.

Hannah’s take: CHURCH

  1. “Please don’t hesitate to call me at…”

In addition to being corny, this phrase is presumptuous. It’s like you’re claiming that you’re so busy that normally you’d resent it if the customer called, but in this case you’d be delighted.

Hannah’s take: I don’t agree with the description, but I do agree that we shouldn’t be putting the responsibility of outreach into the hands of the prospect. You must go after them time after time. Do you all agree?

  1. “For more information, visit our website…”

First, your customers know that there’s information on your website, so pointing that fact out is wasting words. Second, most customer are in a constant state of information overload anyway. Just put the URL after your signature.

Hannah’s take: The URL in your signature thing obviously won’t work all the time, but like I’ve said many times people know what to do when you provide them with a link, email address or phone number. It is wasted space and it is kind of treating them like they’re stupid.

Until next time!

In Conversation: MediaOcean’s VP of Support & Training

I spoke with Stephanie Dorman, VP of Support and Training at Media Ocean, about how she singlehandedly overhauled two merging departments.
I spoke with Stephanie Dorman, VP of Support and Training at Media Ocean, about how she singlehandedly overhauled two merging departments.

MediaOcean’s VP of Support and Training, Stephanie Dorman, singlehandedly restructured and advanced the company’s contact center department with an eye for customer centricity and employee satisfaction. She spoke with me in an exclusive interview about how she did it.

“There were times when we all thought we were going to lose our hair […] but we developed a very strong team out of it because of what we had to go through together,” she said on navigating her team through the company’s early days of a company merger.

In the interview, Dorman outlined several options for building a strong team. She insists on support from executives, approachable and readily-available training and foregoing a tiered-management structure as key elements to a successful contact center.

The four-part series on www.CallCenterWeek.com emphasizes customer centricity. Dorman stressed that they key to customer care is in making a personal connection, which means creating a culture where employees are viewed as integral to the department and company. Dorman will discuss these topics further at the event. She will also touch on the tools to empower and train employees.

Google’s Chris Vennard on integrated mobile functions

Chris Vennard and me in their Chelsea Market offices.
Chris Vennard and me in their Chelsea Market offices.

Google’s Global Product Lead, Chris Vennard, predicts mobile calls from search will double to 86 billion annually by 2018. Vennard, who heads up Google’s Call Ad product, spoke with me about improving the user experience with customer support.

“Nobody will disagree when I say the world is going mobile,” he said.

Vennard outlined several options to enhancing the customer journey – and they begin and end with mobile. First, a ‘bail out’ function is important. Mobile users visiting a company’s website should always have the option to hit a call button to automatically connect them to an agent for help. The next step will be to show the agent their search history.

During the interview, which can be seen in a three-part series on www.CallCenterWeek.com, Vennard went on to talk about the difference between mobile apps and mobile webpages and the benefits of these strategies.

Published: It’s what happens when your press release rocks

The Detroit Business Journal wrote an article on my work’s upcoming military event off the back of a press release we sent out via PR Newswire. The end goal of any press release is to have it turn into a story, but that very rarely happens. Well, today is that day.

I’ll keep it short and sweet, but read this article I wrote if you want more information on how to write a press release.

Here’s the press release in its entirety:

Press Release

And, in summary:

IDGA’S LIGHTWEIGHT TACTICAL VEHICLES SUMMIT COMES TO DETROIT THIS MARCH
Advancements and Opportunities within the Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Programs

New York, NY (February 2, 2015) – IDGA is pleased to announce its debut event, the
Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Summit this March 16-18 in Detroit. The Summit will feature more than 20 highly qualified speakers, which include five military program managers who boast a combined 300 years of military experience.

This new program will bring together some of the military’s key decision makers in an intimate forum to give insight into future vehicle acquisition projects. Since fewer vehicles contract opportunities are available due to drawn down conflicts abroad and sequestration, the military must be more proactive in identifying best value solution providers. This event will serve as an ideal platform for the military decision makers to achieve that initiative.

The summit will bring together 20+ high profile speakers including; COL Kmiecik, Director of Mounted Requirements, COL Mike Milner, Program Manager, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, COL Jason Craft, Program Manager, Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles and COL James Schirmer, Program Manager, Armored Fighting Vehicles.

Never before has IDGA had the pleasure of announcing such a powerful faculty with speakers representing programs ranging from the AMPV to the ULCV.

2015 sessions will cover:
• Future of the Ultra Lightweight Combat Vehicle
• Ultra-Light Tactical Mobility and the Expeditionary Force
• Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles
• Alternate Vehicle Programs – The Future Fighting Vehicle
• Introducing the AMPV
• DAPRA Presents: The GXV-T
• Army’s Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy

And many more!

Join the vehicles community as they come together to learn best practices, programs and processes for 2015 and beyond. This will be a rare opportunity to speak with such a broad range of program managers, while meeting your future clients within this hard-to-reach military vehicles community. To access the full agenda or to register for the conference, visit http://www.lighttacticalvehiclesummit.com

About IDGA

The Institute for Defense & Government Advancement (IDGA): (www.idga.org) a division of IQPC, is a non‐partisan information‐based organization dedicated to the promotion of innovative ideas in public service and defense through live conferences and events. We bring together speaker panels and events comprised of military and government professionals.

Capitalization in Headlines & Subject Lines

Fix yo grammar.
Fix yo grammar.

Lately I’ve seen some inconsistencies between who is capitalizing what in certain subject lines and titles.

So, stop. It’s grammar time!

Opinions are divided across stylebooks on what words should be capitalized, but throughout my career I’ve been able to develop a universally-accepted, three-rule guideline:

  1. Always capitalize the first and last word of the subject line/title (you all are perfect with this rule.)
  2. Capitalize any and all words that are four or more letters in length
  3. Do NOT capitalize conjunctions (and, or, but, nor, yet, so, for), articles (a, an, the) and short prepositions (in, to, of, at, by, up, for, off, on).

Here’s a quiz I pulled off the World Wide Web to test you on these rules. Which words do you think should be capitalized in these titles/subject lines?

  • made to stick: why some ideas survive and others die
  • the story factor: inspiration, influence, and persuasion through the art of storytelling
  • fierce conversations: achieving success at work and in life, one conversation at a time
  • a funny thing happened on the way to the boardroom: using humor in business speaking

Think on it …

Still thinking ….

Do you know which words to uppercase yet?

Ok, let’s test those skills:

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (to is a short preposition; and is a conjunction)

  • The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling (through is a preposition, but is capitalized because it is greater than four letters)
  • Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time (one is capitalized because it is an adjective)
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boardroom: Using Humor in Business Speaking

The most common errors I see are with short words that are not conjunctions, articles, or prepositions. Words such as one, it, its, it’s, him, and own should all be capitalized no matter where they appear in a title.

I hope this helps! Next week a note on prepositions? Email me to let me know what you have questions about.

BONUS: Did you know there’s a name for the the “dot, dot, dot” … you see in emails and other correspondence? It’s called an ellipses (eee-lip-seas), and is used most frequently in writing when summarizing quotations.