The next Sunday morning, you sit down at your desk and open up your weekly email message from Grandma. She doesn’t ask about your week or remind you to call her. Instead, she simply embeds a video. You click the arrow button and suddenly you’re watching her perform a “walker dance” with the other residents of her nursing home. The video ends and you watch it again, giggling all the way through it. You forward it to everyone in your contact list, tweet it and post it to your Facebook wall. Everyone who sees it does the same. The video goes viral and your grandma becomes an Internet celebrity.
It’s Celebrity Grandma you need to think about when creating the next email campaign for your company or website.
Making your email an experience
Email has earned a reputation as a boring form of communication because people make it boring. That blank box is widely regarded as a text box, when it really should be thought of as an embedded webpage. A successful webpage doesn’t just present information; it provides users with an experience. The best webpages are interactive, encourage clicks and user participation and hold the interest of recipients enough to prevent an early trip to the digital trash.
Where to start
Keeping in mind every email has webpage potential, design is paramount. It’s like a magazine page: content is key but layout matters. Truly interactive emails grab a reader’s attention from the get-go. They don’t start with a block of text describing the fun to be found below the fold. You’ll lose half your readers before they scroll. Put the fun above the fold where it can’t be missed. Smashing Magazine has spotlighted a few email newsletters that work, all of which have a couple of things in common. One, they look more like websites than emails. Two, they feature clickable graphics and videos. These newsletters encourage interaction, as any successful business email should.
Some things you might embed into an email encourage clicking on their own, such as that video of your grandma. When people see a play button, they know what to do. The same goes for surveys and polls. If you want people to click through a link to your website, though, you must tell them why they should, but don’t be wordy. A small block stating “50 percent off” or “Win a date with George Clooney” is almost as irresistible as a play button for many readers.
Even if a user never makes it through the body of your email to your website doesn’t mean your email's interactivity offers no value. The longer you keep people in your newsletter, the more information they’ll absorb from it. Not every email has to bring in a fortune or a gaggle of new blog readers. Well-designed, entertaining emails help you build a reputation for providing interesting material, which will keep readers opening your emails time and time again. If you can tie that video of your grandma and her friends doing their walker dance into the theme of your email, you can almost guarantee attention that goes beyond your current subscriber list.Today in a guest post from the wonderful Joseph Baker, we look at the marketing implications of the holiday season. (Joe works at Professional Intern)