We've all seen it before. We're sitting around a board meeting, marketing meeting, or committee meeting and everyone is brainstorming ways to promote the next product, upcoming event, or shiny new thing. Ideas are flowing and then inevitably someone says "we need to do an e-blast."
Everyone nods their heads in agreement. Of course we'll do an e-blast. Duh!
Or maybe the boss suddenly wants to "get this announcement out" by tomorrow to promote the upcoming open house. All of a sudden, it's time to send out an e-blast! After all, it's quick, cheap, and easy, right?
Next, some poor, overworked volunteer or employee is assigned the task of getting the email out and it usually consists of:
Badgering people for information
Getting a bunch of piecemeal, hastily-written, unpolished content
Adding a bunch of unnecessary fonts and images to the email because the board, committee, or boss wants it to "pop" (this is sometimes where Comic Sans rears its ugly head)
Cramming as much stuff in the email as possible because everyone else wants to "get their stuff in"
Sending it out with no specific schedule or editorial calendar
Rinse and repeat willy-nilly at the whim of the board, committee, or boss whenever something new needs to get sent out
Wait! Please, wait!
So many organizations fall into this trap. Often times we see mass email as this magical, low-cost conduit that we can use to easily shove as much information at our constituents as possible. After all, the more we shout at them, the more they'll listen, right?
Think about how many emails you get every day. How much of it is spam, newsletters, special offers, and "announcements" that you may or may not care about? Now think about what you're competing with when you send out a mass email.
The more haphazard, busy, and chaotic your email communications are, the higher the likelihood is that your message will end up ignored along with all the other emails that do the same thing.
So how do you break through the noise?
While the "e-blast" syndrome is easy to fall into, there are some things you can do to fight it. Here are some ways to move from e-blasting to true email marketing.
Set a schedule
This is tough. It's not easy to decide that you're going to send a consistent communication at the same time every week (or whatever your schedule is). However, consistency helps your constituents develop a sense of routine with your messages. If they know that your message comes out every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., they will learn to expect it and may start to mentally "allow" it into their routines. Yes, this does involve planning ahead.
Keep content short and focused
Most of the "e-blasts" that I see are so filled with stuff that it's overwhelming to even look at, much less read. Long emails full of lots of competing calls to action are great ways to encourage your constituents to glaze over and reach for the delete key. Try keeping each message down to one key topic to improve reading comprehension.
Link to your website for more information
Instead of cramming every bit of content possible into one email, give your readers a short blurb and then link them to your website for the full article. This not only improves reading comprehension, but makes your content easier to share via social media channels - which we would like to see, right? Hint: ditch the "newsletter" idea and publish a really great blog. This then becomes your newsletter.
Keep design simple and less "spammy"
Many people think that the only way to get someone's attention in an email is to fill it with images, crazy fonts, and lots of colors. This ends up making your emails look ugly and spammy and can also affect deliverability. Keep it polished and simple. Less is more. We're all tired of the shouting.
Place calls to action in prominent but tasteful places
If you're trying to get people to sign up for your next event or take some other type of action, try placing the call to action in the sidebar of the email or in the sidebar of the blog (or both). Make it a simple, well-designed, tasteful graphic that you can show consistently with each communication. This helps reinforce the call to action without all the shouting.
Bonus: make the content useful
Instead of just announcing things and spewing marketing at people, try crafting educational articles that people will find interesting and relevant. This is a good component of content marketing.
While it's not easy to stick to a disciplined, well-executed, polished email communication plan, it will reward your organization with better results. If you can get your team to avoid the "e-blast" syndrome and use email more strategically, you will start to enjoy less chaos and stress and more engagement and results.
If you need some more pointers on getting this started, we're always here to help.
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