Marketing is a collection of lots of activities, all working or acting together, sometimes in concert, to fulfil several roles. These include brand awareness, prospecting, engagement, conversion, retention, generating advocacy and so on. Often we want all our marketing to do all of these things. But the reality is, great communication is about being single-minded.
This singularity of purpose is obvious when it comes to a TV advert because you've only got thirty seconds to make a point. For instance,doing an advert which first makes the consumer think "ooh, cute puppy", then offers a discount, then states how many sheets there are on a toilet roll and then finally a message to visit the website to sign-up for points, alongside the obligatory Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat logos, would of course be ridiculous. It’s the same with a magazine display advert. For each one it either needs to be about the brand or a single call to action. Simple.
So, why do we not treat email like this too?
There are two dimensions to this way of thinking. The first is really, really simple: the more stuff you ask the email recipient to read, evaluate and discern their choice of call-to-action response, the less they will be able to respond. This is because there is more choice, more confusion, and more time is required.
Inevitably, in these instances, people will either choose the middle option (basic Goldilocks psychology) – which tells you nothing about their real values or propensities – or they will defer the decision altogether (which in sales terms is a 'no'). So you should make the choice simple: do, or don't do. Or: pick this one or that one (that's the assumptive version).
Email marketing should therefore be short, to the point and present only one or two choices. This will maximise impact and increase response rate. You will also be seen to be efficient, clean, straightforward and direct; the simple choice compared to your competitors. Think of the emails you get from Apple (if you're a customer), which are single-minded and clear to the point of asceticism; which is ironic really given how much an iPad costs.
I mentioned a second dimension. We’ve already talked about how any given email needs to have a single purpose and therefore simple, easy to parse content. However, now we need to consider the role of an email in a long-term email-driven relationship. This adds ‘time’ into the mix.
This is where we dive into the principles of customer engagement strategy or ‘CRM’, where each email is designed to move the relationship on from where it is, using knowledge gathered from where it was, to where you want it to go next. In other words, we know that to build a logical customer relationship takes a series of incremental steps, and CRM-oriented email campaigns can do this really efficiently. But, because each of these steps is discrete and purposeful, it is imperative that each step is delivered as effectively as possible. Each message must be single-minded in its purpose of preparing the customer for the next contact. For instance, the sole purpose of one email may be to make the customer think you're nice. This might be by saying, "thank you" after a purchase. This is a good tactic, because if the customer thinks you're nice, they're more likely to read your next email.
So, single-mindedness must be an attribute and quality of every email you send. Each email can do many things and have many messages in it, but none will be effective. By doing one thing well, you will get the best response to an email, and ultimately the best possible result for your email marketing campaign.
Felix Velarde is MD of specialist Customer Engagement agency, Underwired, and runs regular training courses for companies developing their own strategies. For more information, please visit: www.underwired.com.