In our very dynamic routine of today, thinking of business email seems to many to be a bit old, especially given the many alternatives to instant communication. However, do not make this mistake. Email marketing is still critical to making professional contacts, building credibility and assisting marketing and sales productivity in any business.
… But email marketing in 2020 only works if done correctly.
Do people still use email?
Absolutely! You do! To get an idea of how alive this tool is, over 120 billion commercial emails are sent every day. More than half of the world’s population used email in 2019 and the number of users is expected to grow to over 4.3 billion by the end of 2023.
But then, why do we feel that we use this tool less and less?
Here may be a big pitfall in our perception of the value that email can have in our routine. Although new alternatives such as WhatsApp and social networks have been given instant messaging status, email, on the other hand, is still considered one of the safest forms of communication, since you have your prospects/customers ‘permission’ to send them something. Ideally, your database has opted in to receive anything from you. So give them something worthy of their time.
In the face of the colossal amount of messages that we receive everyday, and between real messages and spam, practices to stand out are now key. In addition to the ability to communicate with clients and prospects, professional email now needs to consider the user when using this medium.
Build Your Credibility: The Key Advantage of Business Email
Using a professional email generates more value for the company brand, a market differential in current times. But that is already common practice. When potential customers receive your emails with your brand domain, the degree of identification and trust is there as it becomes easier to understand that this is an official address related to your business.
What really counts now is the presentation of that content and the content itself. Think about what the heck are you sending your prospects and customers? They have a full mailbox just like you. Full of offers and spam and people trying to sell something. What would make your email stand out between the noise? Below are my bets to help your email marketing be effectual in 2020.
Layout and design
Email design used to be an important part of an email marketing strategy, but I venture to say that this is changing. Today I have seen many companies sending emails entirely in text or in very minimalist designs seem to just have more effect and ensure that people open and read their messages.
The truth is that corporate marketing emails with various boxed corners and design and laid out symmetrically are no longer so effective because people are so busy that if something doesn’t catch their attention right away, they’ll leave for later. And who knows when this later will arrive.
The use of mobiles also has created a need for simplification. People reading on their devices don’t have or want the ability to scroll sideways so all your content needs to fit on a narrow screen. The most practical layout for that is the one column text that widens according to the users screen. Two or three columns of content are not effective anymore also because the attention spam is now shorter. Send less content on the email body. Even if you are a creative machine, leave some of that steam for the next issue.
Look at an example of email marketing that generates a lot of results and basically has nothing of design (ok, it has a very well ‘designed design’. Which means very simple with emphasis on the content itself). The Hustle newsletter uses longer text and only one or two animated gifs to generate some interactivity. Its irreverent style and content generate engagement and a huge readership.
The Hustle newsletter has 3 or 4 main sections that work together. It has a main article, usually the subject of that newsletter issue. That article uses some funny gifs and images to catch the peoples attention, but since a lot of email readers don’t load images, their newsletter works just fine without images because the content is so good and comprised of about 1000 words.
The title is catchy and the description too. By reading these two initial items, the reader can decided to read the full article or not.
After the main article, the newsletter is followed by a Sponsored Post, also with an image and short. About 400 words.
And then closes with some short form content, insights and comments.
The newsletter is sent daily to millions of subscribers in the US and is a profitable business for their owners. These are people interested in business, technology, etc… their success is so big that it spawned a festival about the startup and hustle culture.
Now, this newsletter is not all original. It was created after the already succesful The Skimm, which i believe was the first (of the recent generation) business and success daily newsletter. I remember seeing The Skimm and their successful story back in 2012.
Customization will be king
To create a business emaill, it is first important to register your brand or business domain – if you do not already have one. There are even free tools that assist you in this process.
After registration, you need to hire a website hosting service, after all you need to store the messages and data sent by email exchanges. Some website hosting companies have different plans that can meet your specific needs and offer unlimited email accounts to companies.
But again, that branding is a given. It’s a must have. A succesful brand newsletter in 2020 needs to see beyond and offer something valuable to their prospects or customers. I dare to say brands will need to offer content that helps their customers be succesful. It’s worth it spending time and hiring journalists to write a thoughful piece on the market, where it’s going, and even news events. This will allow your brand to become a content producer. Go beyond the boring “company news, product releases, events”. Truth is NO ONE CARES.
Millenials and the modern business world are more laidback than the formal 80s way of doing business. Now, you need to talk to this modern public. And they want it fast, they want insights and they want value. Or they won’t read. Below are a few other important things to thing about next time you want to send a newsletter.
Use multiple targets to generate more results. Invest time in writing several versions for the possible segmentations available in your database. The most common for example would be:
– Gender: masculine and feminine. How about a women-written email sent to women in your database? How about creating that connection and take advantage of the empowerment that that brings.
– Seniority: the most obvious of your database. Your prospects could be either the business owner, or a technical employee. With the technical employee, you may be more technical, but with the business owner, perhaps it is better to talk results, and how much money it can generate.
– Ethics: Respect the choices of your clients and prospects about not being contacted or being contacted more sparsely. This will make all the difference between whether he continues reading or finally severing relationships with your company. Also this is the law. The GDRP rules approved in Europe are also being approved in many countries in different versions. All to counter spam, give people a way out, and give people more control over their data.
Empathy and Human Connection
Empathy generates connection. Get vulnerable. Let your client realize that you are human and that you are mainly writing directly to him. Humanize your email by sending from your personal email, or from the email of one of the company directors. If someone answers, they will answer them directly. Also knowing that your email was sent by a real person helps, and will influence your open rate.
Humanize your email by also placing the photo and biography of the person who wrote it. No more [email protected] This is the email that no one else really opens anymore.
I’m ok with the fact that GoDaddy sends me quite a few emails per month. I receive the operational emails from purchases, or upcoming renewals. But they also send me blog information twice a month. Their newsletter is not long. It has 2 or 3 articles on the blog and it can be grouped by subject. I didn’t even realize that 15 days later they sent me more content. What happened was that I didn’t delete the emails. They are still there in my mailbox. But the sending of insightful information made me keep those emails even though I know it’s there on their blog anytime I want to read it.
Humanization also means using user feedback to keep your other users interested. The Hustle newsletter takes advantage of customer feedback by using a simple voting system to evaluate their content. A call to action to vote on 3 smiley faces, gives them enough feedback about what kind of content their users want to keep reading. “Are you happy with the content you just received?” You can also do that at the end of your newsletters in a very simple way. Marketing automation tools have poll systems that allow you to gather that information.
Also take advantage of customer reviews and customer comments. Google’s newsletter listed above, ends with quotes from their executives and other prominent business folks. That gives the user a sense of reality and the short form of those messages captures the readers eyes away from the blocks of text. It creates connection and keeps the user longer on your content.
Companies that dare to be different and create a connection with their customers or prospects will win in email marketing in 2020. Take advantage of these insights to keep your readers interested or risk depleting your base by increasing your unsubscribes in 2020.