Provide More Value for Your Customers With These Email Marketing Tips

Okay, I’ll admit it, I have over 80,000 unread emails through just one of my many email accounts. I know, I know…you’re probably horrified by just the thought of it. Most people seem to keep their email clean and organized, deleting the unnecessary content. But no, not me.

I signed up for the account some time in 2005. I was 14, and AOL was all the rage….oh the early 2000s. Other than using instant messenger, I am not even sure why I signed up for it. But since then, I have used that email to sign up for every kind of free trial offer and brand newsletters that come my way. At this point, my account is basically just a dumping ground for advertising. Looking for new shoes? I am sure I have a promo code for you somewhere in there.

The Marketing Shift

While growing up during the time of the “internet revolution,” I have had the opportunity to watch companies big and small navigate their way through the web – learning how to use it, how to market with it and how to use social media. There have been an enormous amount of fails, and some wonderful wins to be had along the way.

But now, we have finally reached the stage where using the power of the internet to market and grow businesses is no longer a scary task with no instructions. The hard part currently, is strategizing how to stand out from everyone else and be the trendsetter in our constantly-changing market.

With this in mind, I 100% believe in the power of inbound marketing (also known as content marketing) over traditional outbound marketing. I am basically programed to ignore television commercials completely – whether I am trying to or not. Advertisements on buses, billboards and websites may just as well not exist as I rarely ever notice them either. In addition, I never listen to the radio or any streaming service where I can’t option-out of the commercials.

When it comes to making a purchase, I do my research, read reviews, look for discounts and make my decision before I ever contact a company, if I do at all. In short, I am a consumer who is tired of having pitchy and biased sales content thrown at me from every direction, so I ignore it all because I can. I know I am not alone in this.

But even though I can try my best to drown out all the advertisements around me, email marketing, a prominent outbound marketing technique, is still nearly unavoidable. In fact, somehow email marketing is actually considered inbound and 59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue.

As a consumer, I find this confusing. According to a 2015 survey, business professionals in the U.S. spend nearly 6.3 hours a day checking email, and that number is growing. Yet, as a society our common hatred of the tactic seems to be growing too.

A Call for Value

So are we addicted, or has email been a part of our daily lives for so long that we just can’t imagine what we would do without it? Businesses know that we are already logging in, so why wouldn’t they want to take a piece of our time too?

Moreover, checking email is generally a singular task. When you’re on social media, companies are competing with timeline posts, notifications and advertisements for your attention. When your email is open, it’s often the only thing your brain is having to process. This means you’re likely more engaged with the content.

But does that content you’re receiving actually have value to you? Does it contain information that you would never know about had you not opened it?

Out of all the email newsletters I receive, some which I signed up for and some I honestly can’t remember if I did or not, I can think of maybe 7 brand newsletters that I actually find valuable: Flight price notifications, discounts to my favorite stores, local events and industry-related news. However, I would say only 50% of the ones they send out actually contain information intriguing enough to make me take action. The rest is just noise.

email marketing

What You Can Do

So how can we make email marketing line up more with the inbound methodology, and therefore, more user-friendly? Get creative with how you can add value for your customers through different types of email content:

01. Personalize It

Marketers have been personalizing email by adding smart fields to generate the user’s name for some time now. Lists are used to seperate customers to better target them by interest, location, career, and so on. These tactics work well; but if you really know your customers, then take the time to deliver content exclusively for them.

Do you have a few customers who maybe used to purchase from you often, but have now dropped off? Look at their previous purchases and write a direct email to them suggesting a few new items that fit their needs. For example, maybe your customer bought a pair of shoes a month ago that now comes in other colors. It won’t take a ton of time for you to write a short and sweet message saying something like:

“Hi (name),

It looks like the last time you shopped with us you purchased our Black Lace-up Flats. I hope you’re really enjoying them – they are my favorite shoes to pair with springtime dresses!

I wanted to let you know that we now carry them in three other colors: White, cream and tan. And till midnight on Tuesday, I’m giving you this exclusive promo code for 30% any one item of your choice.

If there is anything I can help you with, please feel free to respond to this email.

Happy Shopping!”

Obviously this tactic can be hard to do if you’re running a large business with a huge customer base. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Use the resources you have available to you to create an experience that will make a lasting impression with your customers.

02. Spark Emotion

You know that warm, happy feeling that certain commercials can leave you with around the holidays? The gathering of a happy family or a couple celebrating over the sounds of holiday music can help put you in a festive mood, ultimately making you want to buy gifts for the people you love.

So many companies seem to nail this around the holidays, but then the rest of year there is no emotion shown. Customers want to connect with brands; and in order to do that, they need to seem trustworthy. Take some time to understand the power of empathetic marketing, and figure out the best way to connect with your customer base either through sharing a personal story or by putting yourself in their shoes.

03. Ask for Opinion

Every time I see an email containing the word “survey” in the subject line I immediately loose a little respect for the company. I know that may seem harsh, but why do companies repeatedly expect us to just give them more of our time without getting anything in return? (What ever happened to getting some kind of “thank you” deal for filling those out?)

Instead of asking your customers to complete a survey, get creative and start a social media campaign/contest. Then send the information out to your email subscribers asking them to “like” your page and tell you something good about why they love your company (this is also a great way to get more social followers).

An example of this might be if you run a clothing store, you could ask your customers to tell you about a moment when wearing one of your items helped give them confidence in a stressful situation, such as in an interview. Users can “Like” your page, leave their comment and be entered into a contest of some sort.

04. Add Statistics

People love statistics. It’s a short and easily-digestable snippet of information. Users can easily scan it to decide if the article it’s linked to is worth reading, or to quickly understand the popularity of something. If you want to feature a product in your next email, turn to your reviews and include the stats with the product in the email. It’s much more powerful to say that “80% of our customers gave these shoes 5 stars” than it is to include a testimonial saying “these are so cute!”

05. Give Something Free

Because who doesn’t want free stuff? The intensive could be for online, but it could also be for in-store if that’s where you’re trying to drive traffic.

06. Make it Visual

Visuals, meaning photography, infographics and video, are so important to include in every piece of marketing you do. Here are some important reason why:

  • Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (Xerox)
  • Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. (Kissmetrics)
  • Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers. (Adobe)
  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than other any other type of content. (Massplanner)
  • Visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. (Bufferapp)

07. Add Social Proof

Social media is here to stay, so if it isn’t already a huge part of your marketing strategy then it should be. If you have built up a follower base, include information from it in your email such as “Most Liked on Instagram.”

Take Action

In short, if we want businesses to include more value in their email marketing, then we can start by being the trendsetter. Provide your customers with the information they need and want instead of just noise, and ultimately, build a lasting relationship with them.

At this point, my AOL account is clearly a lost cause. I could delete it, but now I kind of want to just keep it to see how many unread emails I will rack up over the next decade. At least my other email accounts that actually matter are in better shape.

Thanks for reading! What are some ways you provide value through email marketing? Let us know in the comments.

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Posted by Ariel Valley

Web designer, writer, social media lover and inbound marketer at Catch22 Marketing. Also known as a professional coffee taster, shoe enthusiast and film buff. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @ariel_valley.

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