Email outreach: Aim for hearts, not just eyeballs

Business love letters

Email marketing and newsletters are hot right now — an audience you actually own and can reach directly. It’s downright dreamy.

But while much of the world is focused on numbers — how big is the list, what is the click through, how long was someone on the page — email marketing needs to do more than hit numbers. They’re informative and important, but they can’t be the sole driving force of a meaningful email marketing program.

Eyeballs are not the same thing as hearts.

Above my desk I have this painting by Christine Sutton:

LIttleBird_resized

And below that I have a scrap of paper that says, “Content is everything.”

The boat with the paper airplanes is the touchstone for what I do every single day. It forces me to ask questions like:

  • Are these the right words?
  • If I do this will it move me in the direction I want to go?
  • And most importantly, is every action successfully working together to move me toward my goal?

While these questions apply to pretty much everything, they’re especially important for email marketing or newsletters. What are you saying? Why? Does it take you where you want to go? Does it offer something of value to the people on your list?

All of this is pretty big picture about email marketing, so let’s scope in a bit.

Subject line

This is your moment to shine, the paper airplane that is way out front leading the charge. Don’t take it lightly. A good subject line can change everything — from your open rate to your personality (or perceived personality). I have a friend who has made an art out of sending emails that exist only in the subject line. Short. To the point. I don’t even have to open it, unless it warrants a reply.

For Mamalode’s email newsletter we have learned a lot about subject lines by watching closely, A/B split testing, and also just talking to people. Analytics are amazing, but don’t forget to talk to your audience as well — they will inevitably surprise you.

Body copy

In the body of your email you want to say something that is both clear, concise and worth someone’s time. Email is a tidal wave for most people. Send them a little lifeboat that they can climb aboard and ride for a bit.

Call to action

What are you trying to do? Get clicks? Make sales? Encourage shares? Do you know what ACTION you want to happen? Good, then make sure your audience does, too.

Timing is everything

Our audience at Mamalode is mostly moms, so sending during times of the day that are convenient for them (like after bedtime or on the weekend) not only affects our open rate, it also tells our subscribers that fundamentally we understand them and we care.

Email karma is real

You have to give to get. A great email marketing campaign offers real value to recipients. Be sure your emails aren’t all asks.

Make it worthwhile to share

You want your emails to be easy to share or forward. Your audience has an audience. I heard a great line from www.justadandak.com where he said that people share what makes them look awesome. Let your audience be awesome.

Keep it personal

If hearts are your goal, then most likely the email should come from a person. To take it one step further, it should probably come from the same person. To establish a real connection, be a real person — and let your subscribers see your authenticity in your email signature.

Understand filters

One important thing to look at with email outreach is filters. I love/hate them. I love them for my inbox. I hate the idea that someone might choose to block Mamalode’s emails. But it is an important challenge.

You have to earn you place in the inbox. You have to be wanted.

I personally use www.Unrollme.com to unsubscribe. I edit my inbox ruthlessly, and when I do so I try to be reflective on WHY I am choosing to sever my ties with that particular email and be sure I am not repeating those mistakes in our outreach.

Is your heart in your email marketing campaign? It sounds corny but it’s true: if you can’t love it, neither can anyone else.

Email marketing is hard work. Really hard. Important work always is — which is why I also have this poster above my desk. Because again, sometimes it’s all about choosing the right words.