I wish there was a taxi-like meter I could install on my laptop, phone and iPad that would track the amount of time I spend doing email. With each passing day, it seems the list of messages in my inbox gets longer and longer and more and more time is being spent weeding through sales pitches and social media notifications to get to the important stuff.
A recent inbox update to Gmail made things a little easier by breaking out messages into tabs called Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. Less important email gets dropped into those buckets while the more important stuff gets dropped into the inbox, now labeled Primary. But despite that minor improvement, I’m finding it harder and harder to end the day with an empty inbox.
Over the past month or so, I’ve taken a proactive approach to limiting the number of emails that hit the inbox by unsubscribing to marketing emails from my favorite retailers and hitting the “Report Spam” button each time I get something I didn’t sign up for.
Those actions got me thinking about something. The future of email marketing.
There’s nothing I hate more than coming home, walking to the mailbox and pulling out all the crap that gets stuffed in there. The newspaper-like coupons, supermarket circulars, coupon magazines, postcards from the dentist who just moved into the neighborhood and is looking for patients, and those official looking envelopes that promise imprisonment if I put it in the bottom of the cat’s litter pan. After I search for the latest issue of “Leg Show” among the junk, I toss everything else right in the trash, without giving it a second thought that I might be missing out on a coupon for a buck off Bounty.
Like me, I’m sure you’ve learned to tune out those forms of advertising as well, making the only people excited to receive them the garbage men who will have a job forever as long as money is still spent mailing that crap.
But as we get more and more solicitations via email, are we slowly tuning them out as well? I tend to think the answer to the question is… yes. Today, when I get a promo email, if it’s a merchant I don’t typically do business with, or one who’s products I just don’t have an interest in, I unsubscribe. I tend to only keep the emails coming from stores I shop at regularly and who offer me a coupon that makes me want to go back and shop some more.
I just don’t have the time to weed through the noise. Or as I said to someone the other day, I don’t want my inbox to become Twitter.
While email marketing is still a successful and viable marketing channel for eCommerce store owners, I wonder how much longer that trend will continue. For the most part, the same content stores are pushing out in an email to their subscribers is also being shared on their social media pages, making your membership in the “exclusive” email club not so exclusive anymore. If I can get the same content from my favorite brands on Facebook, why should I subscribe to their email list?
Before you answer that, I know that if I let a whole day go by without checking Facebook, I may miss out on the once-in-a-lifetime, second annual, going-out-of-business, 33% off sale on all genuine horse hair fishnet stockings at StripperClothes.com. But, if I’m really interested to see if there are any deals going on when I need to buy something, I head to the retailer’s Facebook page or go directly to their website to see what’s new. I may miss out on an exclusive coupon, but are there such things anymore?
As a child of the 80’s, I remember the day video killed the radio star. If my uncle from north Jersey was still making book, I’d lay odds on social media killing the email marketing star in the next few years. Don’t hang the crepe and break out the black veil just yet, you’ve got some time to keep using email marketing to your advantage and hopefully persuade people like me to not hit the unsubscribe button.
How? Here’s what I’m looking for if I’m on your email marketing list and want to continue hearing your message:
- Make me an offer I can’t refuse. Let’s face it, we’re all cheap (or as my lady friend would say, “thrifty”). Give me an offer that is going to make me come and shop at your store. $5 off a $100 order ain’t gonna do it. But a BOGO, 30% off, free gift with order, or even free shipping may be just enough to make me come on over and drop a dime.
- Make me feel special. I mentioned before about being on that “exclusive” list. Make me feel exclusive! Why should I remain a subscriber if you’re going to post that exclusive offer on your Facebook page and on your website so every Tom, Dick and Randolph can claim it. Treat your subscribers to something special and make them feel part of an exclusive club.
- Don’t make me hit that button. If you hit me with too many emails, you’re going to face the unwanted unsubscribe. I know some retailers push out an email or two a week and they may be successful doing that. But in my case, I don’t have the time or willingness to hear from you more than the three year old next door who calls me “daddy” for some odd reason. Two or three times a month, in my book, is about all I want to hear from you.
- Keep it simple. If I wanted to read a book, I would. Don’t ramble on in your email about how wonderful your $15 coupon is and how many of your amazing new products I can fit in my linen closet. Give me an eye catching graphic that tells me visually what the offer is without having to wade through sentences and paragraphs of text. You’re not J. Peterman. Although, I would love a pair of Himalayan Walking Boots.
- Make it look great. If you look like a three dollar hooker working South Beach next to an $800 an hour lady of the evening, you’re outta here. Invest in hiring a designer to build you the Mercedes-Benz of email templates that you can use to push out professional looking emails. Image is everything, and if you look cheap, chances are we’re breaking up. For good.
Well, that’s enough for today. My inbox is rapidly filling up and I’ve got a Bloody Mary that needs to be taken care of. I need to decide which to prioritize.