How often do you receive promotional emails from companies that you either don’t read at all or just spend a few seconds scanning before deleting? And, I’m not referring to ‘spam’ here – because I’d bet these same principles are at work even with many promotional emails which you have opted in to receive…

Let’s take a step back and consider the essential nature of email communications. One of the key characteristics of email is that it can be quickly scanned and discarded, and unlike letters, most people don’t come back to an email once they have opened it. The implication here is that you must provide your reader with an instant, compelling reason to keep reading. Similarly, you need to persuade your prospective customer to take action straight away (usually to click through to your campaign landing page). A proven technique is to provide your reader with a compelling time-sensitive offer and persuade them that they will miss out if they don’t act immediately – before they move on to another task.

Another aspect to consider is that you need to offer a quick and easy way for your audience to give you immediate feedback – above and beyond any sales-related call to action. For example, you could encourage people to just reply directly to your e-mail with their thoughts, or to leave comments on your blog via a link. This immediacy encourages your prospective customer to leave valuable feedback – increasing their engagement with your communication as well as allowing you to quickly gauge whether it is hitting the mark or not.  Do however ensure that you have sufficient resources in place to process and reply to the additional feedback you will receive.

You should also bear in mind the issue of immediacy when prospecting for new business – it’s generally a good idea to keep your initial email brief and easy to scan, otherwise it can come across as a little daunting. For those prospects who have not yet expressed a clear interest in your proposition it’s often better to keep the initial email tightly focused on your single-minded proposition (backed up with your promotional incentive), with clear links through to your campaign landing page if your reader is interested in gaining more information.

The exception to this is where you are in the fortunate position of being able to precisely target those who are highly likely to already be interested in your proposition. In this particular scenario, so long as you ensure that the email is compellingly written, has clear navigation and is relevant to your readers’ specific needs, then you may be able to keep them reading throughout long copy. However, in today’s time-pressured environment where your prospective customer is often bombarded with many similar emails each day, it can prove very difficult to gain this level of engagement in practice. The point still stands though that even for ‘qualified prospects’ you need to keep your emails immediate by quickly latching onto the relevant benefits you can provide in order to pique your reader’s interest – and keep them reading.

Are their any additional principles or techniques you use to improve the immediacy of your own email communications?  Do let me know in the comments below…

If you’re interested in exploring this area in more detail (together with relevant examples), you might like my recent book ‘Successful Marketing Communications’.  If you have any thoughts or comments, please drop me a line below.

Written by Rob H

I’m a Chartered Marketer with over 20 years’ experience working in digital and offline marketing communications across the financial services, leisure, education and technology sectors – most recently working for a large financial services organisation, managing the acquisition marketing communications team. I gained an MSc in Strategic Marketing from Cranfield Business School in 2005 and the CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing in 2012. In 2012 I became the part-time course tutor at the Cambridge Marketing College for the CIM diploma in ‘Principles of Mobile Marketing’ – also authoring the accompanying Mobile Marketing study materials for the college. In March 2017 I published ‘Successful Marketing Communications‘ (available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks), which has become recommended reading for delegates at the IDM (Institute of Direct Marketing). When I’m not knee-deeping in reading/ writing the latest marketing communications articles I enjoy outdoor swimming and anything involving snow – with my goal for next year being to combine the two…

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