Last week I sent out an email – A one-liner.
‘What’s the biggest challenge you face with your online marketing right now?’
It might surprise you, but that super-short email got more responses than practically anything else I’ve ever sent out.
I was thrilled to hear from people launching webinars and writing eBooks, setting up eCommerce sites, launching entire new businesses, working hard on their email marketing, and lots of people forging ahead on social media.
Many people also shared some of the challenges they’re facing, including finding time for online marketing, prioritising what to do first, having the confidence to go ahead with an ambitious new initiative, getting buy-in from senior management, technical know-how, knowing what to say and getting organic traffic in a competitive marketplace.
Understanding all this will help me make our emails even more relevant to you in the future, so thanks for being so generous. I hope that some of the advice I shared will come in useful!
But now for another question.
How can it be that the least interesting email I’ve ever written (…I’d like to think….) also generated the most responses? And what can you learn from this, for your own business?
The answer is that unlike so much of the marketing drivel that clogs up our email inboxes nowadays, these short messages sound authentic and real. They read like the kind of message you would genuinely write to a colleague – and so they demand a response.
The truth is that very short emails, usually asking a question, are beginning to crop up more regularly in the marketing world.
It’s not something you should do regularly (if every email you sent out was just one line, your audience would disappear pretty fast), but it’s great after webinars or after leads have downloaded a resource…. When you really need to follow up with people and really want a response from them.
The subject line which won our A/B test – “Hey” – was similarly short and casual.
It was actually made famous (if the word “Hey” can be made famous….) by Barack Obama, who used it in an email to his supporters during his 2011 re-election campaign, generating more opens than practically anything else he sent out.
He was so thrilled by the results that he used the same subject line in four other emails, and then, when that got tired, followed up with “Hey again” 🙂 (Hey, why argue with success?)
You’d open an email like that, wouldn’t you, not only because it’s so vague – you really want to know what’s it’s about – but because for a second, you allow yourself to believe that Obama is writing to you personally. It doesn’t sound like an official email, more the kind of thing Barack might send a friend he hadn’t seen in a while.
People are sick of being bombarded by sales pitches that read as if they were written by soulless minions. They crave a real connection to you, so the more authentic you can be, the better the bond with your readers and prospective clients.
Don’t be afraid to give of yourself, telling them what you really think, sharing real stories and writing in a relaxed way, without the offputting jargon and stiffness that characterises so many business emails.
Just make sure you keep it real. Two other trends right now are for marketers to send emails with deliberate typos – so their writing looks raw, unedited and heartfelt — and also to pretend that the last link they sent out for their webinar or video was wrong, so here it is again…… “Whooops”.
I was annoyed when I received the umpteenth “whoops” email and realised it was a ploy, not a real mistake. It was so hokey.
There is a world of difference between being genuine and just trying to appear genuine………