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The Email Cliff

1 May

If you’ve had someone skim your email and click delete without reading it all, you’ve experienced this fact firsthand: our readers are only willing to give us a certain amount of attention before moving on.  The more words you write, the harder it is to get people to read them

 Illustrating that statement might look something like this:

Email not

This is close…but not exactly how readership works.

But that’s not really how readership works.  It’s not a linear function, where increasing your blog post or advertising email by a certain number of words means that you’ll lose a predictable number of readers.

How does it work?  Have you ever decided to read or not read an online article based on its page length?  Or received an email at work and condemned it to some buried folder after reading 1/3 of it because you had to scroll for days to see all the text?

At some word count, at some unfortunate sweet spot, our audience decides that our written message is too long to engage with and stops reading.

At this word count or page length, the majority of our audience clicks delete or x’s out the brower window, creating a steep, ugly decline in readership.  I call this steep decline the email cliff:

Ouch...your audience fell off the cliff, but you're the one hurting.

Ouch…your audience fell off the cliff, but you’re the one hurting.

For all of us that want to be read instead of deleted like spam, the email cliff means we should do two things:

1) An extra sentence doesn’t necessarily mean losing a small number of readers.  It might push the majority of your readers over the edge of the email cliff.  That’s why when we’re debating whether we need another bullet point or sentence, we must scrutinize whether that extra bit is really needed.  

2) Different audiences have different cliffs.  Your mom might read pages and pages of an email before she decides to stop reading.  Colleagues will probably jump off the cliff sooner.  And potential customers?  They tumble off the cliff after a paragraph or two (if we’re lucky).  We need to think hard about the audience we’re writing to and craft a message accordingly.

Email Cliff 4

If you think about the cliff, you’ll be a click-through champion.  And more importantly, the important things you have to say will be heard!

Meet In The Lobby At 7:15

2 Feb

The lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego is 150 yards long.  Asking someone you’ve never met to meet you in the Hyatt lobby when it’s buzzing with people is like playing Where’s Waldo without knowing what Waldo looks like.

hyatt lobby

I asked ten strangers to meet me in the lobby of the hotel at 7:15 before a group dinner.  At 7:35, after scrawling “group dinner” on a dopey paper sign and weaving my way through the lobby, I left with six of the guests in tow.  The other four are probably still in the lobby, asking themselves what kind of jackass would give them these instructions.

When you host an event, be specific as possible in your communication with your guests.  Hosting a group diner?  Tell the group to meet you in front of the concierge desk to the left of the front doors at 7:15.  Not just “in the lobby.”  Running a focus group?  Don’t tell attendees that the session will be held in the Del Mar room.   Make sure they know the session is in the South Tower of the hotel, on the 3rd floor, in the Del Mar Room.

We put too much work into our events to have them fail because we give incomplete instructions.  The more specific you are, the higher likelihood that attendees will show up and that your event will run smoothly.

When Content Isn’t King

22 Jan

Telling someone content isn’t king is like telling a mom that you think her baby is ugly.  It always leads to a shocked look, and sometimes a slap.

Which is why I’m hesitant to tell you this.  When it comes to achieving higher click-through rate (CTR) in marketing emails, the content of the email is DEFINITELY not king.

In my first year as a marketer, I wrote prose worthy of publication, copy that extolled the virtue of our beautiful wares (textbooks…).  But I still had average to below average CTR.  I spent significantly more time than my colleagues worrying about the body copy of my emails, but that extra time didn’t lead to more customers clicking on links in my emails.

Which led me to examine more closely my marketing emails.  Which led to the conclusion that if I were a potential customer, I would have NEVER clicked on the links in my own emails.

That was humbling.  But also helpful.  I realized that the reason that I wouldn’t have clicked on my own links had nothing to do with the copy I wrote.  It had to do with what I now know are the two critical components of CTR:

  • The subject line
  • The link we ask customers to click on

For you to achieve high click-through, customers 1) have to open your email and 2) click on the link you provide them.  It doesn’t matter how good your copy is (and mine was good, damnt).  If your subject line is spammy or doesn’t convey that there will be clear value within the email, customers will just delete it without opening.  And if they open it, the description of the link you want them to click better be specific (“Learn more here” just doesn’t cut it) or they won’t click on it.

I now spend all of my time worrying about subject lines and my links…and my click-through rate is the best in my marketing team.  When I write the actual body copy of my emails, my goal is not to pen magic that will allure customers.  It’s only to keep the content short so customers make it to my link.

The content isn’t king.  It’s so intuitive to me now when it comes to CTR, it’s shocking I didn’t realize it sooner. 

Change your perspective on CTR.  Focus on the subject line and the link, not the copy.  And enjoy more success.

Sending Out 1000 Letters Without Including Your Name

16 Jan

I’ve made this mistake.  I don’t want you to make it as well.

For marketers and sales people, mail merge in Microsoft Outlook is an extremely powerful (and free) tool.  You create a Word Document containing your email message, upload an Excel spreadsheet with your contacts and their email addresses, and click send.

And voila!  You’ve just sent a beautiful note to 1,000 customers and left them your contact information.

Unless you didn’t include your contact information.  I learned the hard way that messages sent through mail merge in Microsoft Word will not include the Microsoft Outlook signatures that are automatically included in all of your other emails.

Why is your signature not automatically included?  I have no idea.  I would think that Bill Gates has enough money to get two Microsoft products, Office and Word, to better communicate.

Don’t send out 1000 emails without including your name.  Just make sure you include your signature at the end of the document you’ve written for your mail merge.  Don’t assume your contact information will be automatically included in your emails, because it won’t.

signature

If anyone needs help setting up a mail merge, just let me know!  I can be reached at Kresse.john@gmail.com.

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