Jonathan Gesinger, Austin, Texas-based manager of business development for Emma, expands on ideas he shared in Part One of the interview for integrating email into an organization’s content delivery programs.
Below is some data from The Nielsen Company that shows the correlation between social media use and email consumption. Interestingly, those who score high in social media consumption also spend more time on email.
The chart is a reinforcement of Jonathan’s point about the value of integrated marketing and communications plans for delivering content.
CC: Can we get more specific on tips for producing stellar email content?
Always start with the subject line. It has to be engaging, interesting and entice people to open. “August Monthly Newsletter” won’t grab my attention when I have 59 other new emails in my inbox. On a smartphone sometimes the “from” and the subject line is all you get to work with to get to an open, so paying attention to both as you create a campaign is vital.
CC: What else will get a customer to open a message?
JG: Branding and design are important. Most people read their inbox via the preview panel now, so seeing that instantly recognizable brand or captivating design in the header is also key for engagement.
CC: And the content itself?
JG: If I could give you a checklist for content it would probably include the following: relevant, brief, valuable and targeted. You could also say personal instead of targeted. Email is a great way to introduce an offer, a topic or a piece of content, and then use a click to deliver the reader to where you can pay it off.
You don’t need to include 5,000 words of content in every email, and by paying the email off elsewhere you can generate readership to your blog or return visits to your website.
CC: Let’s talk about measuring success.
JG: Email is extremely trackable. Being able to see who opens, who clicks, who forwards it to a friend, who shares the content across their social networks is something you cannot do as easily in most other forms of direct marketing.
Once you have that data, you can deliver follow-up, targeted emails based on preferences or activity. You can also use stats like social sharing data to find out how your audience is using social along with your brand.
CC: Jonathan, you’ve given a really helpful overview. Is there anything I forgot to ask that you’d like to add?
A. There are best practices in email such as getting permission, personalizing and segmenting but “best practices” is also kind of a dirty word when it comes to email. Okay, actually that’s two words, but you get the idea.
What may work extremely well for one company, may not for another. Please test. That’s what makes email so great is that you can easily create A/B tests.
CC: A/B tests?
JG: Take a slice of your list and try something new, then make changes based on the results you see in your results section. You can also send a survey to your audience, ask them what they want to receive from you, and deliver it. Test. Test. Test.
I attended a conference last year where a case study was presented of a brand that increased sending frequency from once a month, to daily, over a period of time. They lost a huge part of their list but sales went up. The people who dropped off were probably not engaged in the first place, but the people who were somewhat engaged became more engaged.
That won’t work for everyone but they did it in such a way that after testing it, and discovering it worked for them with a small part of their list, they rolled out the frequency change to their whole audience.
CC: That’s a great story about increasing engagement.
JG: If you have a hunch, test it out and slowly work in new practices based on your results.
CC: Do you have any rules of thumb as far as budgeting for email within an integrated content delivery strategy?
A. The DMA does a study every year and the most recent one out states that email will provide a $42 ROI for every $1 spent in email marketing. The next closest ROI is Search, at roughly $22, so you can see there’s huge value behind using email. The key is that it’s not a one time “a campaign” effort. The dreaded days of “let’s email blast this offer out” are going away, and companies are realizing they need a 12-months-long email strategy to keep their customers engaged, and deliver them great content consistently, to get the best results.
Costs can vary a lot based on your chosen solution, but across the board it’s inexpensive compared with other marketing, and it’s equally, or more, effective with delivering results.
CC: And to wrap up, because time off can recharge our creativity at work, is there anything fun that you’ve been doing this summer?
Keeping up with my 8 and 10-year-old daughters requires the majority of my creative energy. We’ve enjoyed trips back to the Pacific Northwest and to Florida — you know it’s hot in Austin when you go to Florida to escape the summer heat.
I’ve also spent a lot of time on my bike this summer. Living in Austin with the rolling hills of Central Texas and lots of biking space is one of my favorite things about this place, and I’m training for the Livestrong Ride this October. Anyone want to join?
Please comment below on how you’re using email as part of an integrated content delivery strategy.
If you want to keep the conversation going with Jonathan Gesinger or find out how to join him as he raises money for the fight against cancer in the Livestrong Ride Austin, send an email to email@example.com. You’ll also find Jonathan on Twitter @j_gesinger.