Reaching your prospects and customers with Automated Marketing - So many choices. . . so easy to get it wrong Part 2
Part 2 (click here to read Part 1)
Before we explore the details on Readability let’s address the real essence of relevance. If it’s not relevant it won’t get read so we need to emphasize the importance in this area.
Chances are you have thousands of records in your CRM’s database. And it’s very easy to just start blasting out emails to those records. But you’re risking opportunity. If your email is not relevant it not only won’t get read but there’s a good chance that your recipient will opt out due to the relevance factor and you’ve just missed any future opportunity for marketing or communicating with one opt-out click.
Relevance = subject matter + timing.
If what you are saying is important to me and it’s important to me NOW you have my undivided attention. To achieve this “undivided attention” be sure to set very specific filters for the target group for your email. Secondly, make sure your CRM can be configured to “time” your emails to fire at the appropriate interval. For borrowers this could mean sending out a very personalized congratulations email when the loan is approved or receiving consistent, periodic emails specific to their current situation (can’t find a property, credit repair, DTI, etc.). For a Realtor/partner or broker it could be congratulations on a loan closing or for hitting a specific loan volume target. If you are crafting a drip/track campaign make sure that the filter for inclusion for your targets is also the mechanism for “killing” the emails from going out once the record no longer fits the conditions (the last thing you want is to send out automated emails that do not fit the situation).
Relevance literally bleeds right into readability. Once you get past the subject line test for relevance, the focus is now on the overall look/feel of the content. If I continue to read your email content it better continue to be relevant and readable or I’m done.
Ok so your recipient thinks your email is relevant enough to view the subject and now the content. Measuring relevance and readability for content can be broken down into the following areas:
Do I perceive your email as a “marketing” message or is it a “personal” message? Obviously in most cases “personal” emails have a higher degree of being read but that’s not to say that “marketing” emails are all bad. Sometimes that’s ok. Not all emails can be personal but you are better off it can be perceived that way to the recipient.
If you do not understand the term “Responsive” this section is for you! Responsive simply means that your email contains special code that automatically adjusts the layout of your content depending on the size of the recipient’s display. If it’s a small iPhone screen it displays your content in a single column (no need to scroll across to read your email) Considering the fact that over 70% of emails are now read on smaller mobile devices, the importance of responsiveness cannot be overstated. If your email template program does not automatically ensure a responsive rendering, get one that does!
- Text Content
- In the very first sentence, does the text make sense? Is it relevant? Does the most important message of the email appear in the subject line and the first or second sentence? If not it probably will not get read.
- Does the text content have typos/grammatical errors? If you can’t correctly type a sentence, what does that say about my confidence in your ability to close a loan for me?
- Does it ramble on in paragraph form or is it easy to scan the content through bullets and shorter sentences (tip: scanning is how Gen Y/Millennials research information) . You may think every word in your email is important. Trust me, your reader does NOT. Be concise and to the point!
- Image Content
- “What do you mean you didn’t see that beautiful image in my last email!” - In many cases images do NOT automatically appear with your content since a lot of email apps make downloading content an “optional” selection when previewing and/or they make downloading images an additional click. This is something to consider.
- Image Considerations - if you are including several images in your content this can have a dramatic impact on relevance and readability. Think about it. If you have one image and mostly text, the readability of the email will not vary all that much, especially if the image is shorter in height and at the top of the email. If most of your content is images your recipient may literally have nothing to look at prior to downloading the image and may see no relevance.
- Click here . . . or not – If you are using a click link in an image and the image does not display good luck. Consider including a text link in the event the link button does not appear.
- Size does matter - The bigger the images, the longer it will take to view your email content. Try to keep your image file size as small as possible (ie less than 1mb) and no wider than 600 pixels.
Image vs Text for Relevance and Readability
There are obvious scenarios where you will really need to rely on a high impact image to get your email read. But there may also be cases where just the subject line and text is enough. Example – when our clients send out an automated email to a borrower about their loan being approved and the subject line is “Your loan is approved”, take one guess what the open rate might be…. It averages 90% regardless of the image! You get the point.
Also remember that images in an email are normally perceived as “marketing” emails. Emails with few or no images that are sent from a person (as opposed to email@example.com) are typically perceived as “personal” emails and are more likely to be opened. So plan accordingly. Is your email a “marketing” email or is it meant to appear to be “personal”? (tip: make sure your CRM is capable of utilizing merge fields so that automated emails contain personalized data from each record in the email content)
- Links – use them!Using links in your email is critical. Links serve multiple purposes in your email marketing:
- Reporting – As you may or may not know, tracking “opens” is no longer a valid measurement of whether your emails are getting read. The only way to measure the ROI of an email campaign is by counting click thrus. Click thrus tell you not only whether your email is being read but was it worth clicking to see more? Remember, if you can’t measure click thrus there is nothing to measure.
- Content length reduction – If you do have a lot to say and are concerned that your email is just way too long, use a link. Not only will you measure the click thru but now you can store a large portion of your content on a web page or web site. This will in turn drive SEO for your site!
- Validation – if someone is willing to click on a link it means your email is relevant and worth going further
- Call to Action – This is the mainstay of any successful Marketing activity. Marketing impressions are nice but when someone takes action they are likely going to move to the next step and hopefully into a sales process. A click thru is a great way to drive action. Increasingly a click thru is the preferred level of action when a prospect wants to go to the next step (as opposed to a phone call). Obviously in a loan prospecting email it would be “apply now”. If you are trying to attract partners it might be “learn more” or “sign up for our upcoming webinar on how we can close more business for you”.
- Social Media – Make sure your signature section has links to all of your social media sites, web sites and any other important URL’s.
- Testing - “You Don’t know what you don’t know” . . . Gone are the days when you could just do a quick test email to your inbox and sign off. Today, there are just way too many variables that can make the difference when viewing that email you spent so much time creating. Here are just a few of the things to consider:
- Is it going to spam/trash folder (for reasons mentioned above)
- Speed – are your images to big and do they take too long to render?
- How does it look without the images being visible?
- Is your email “responsive”? How does it render on a 4.3” iPhone vs a 24” Display? Make sure your email app supports responsive code. If it does, your email will automatically adjust to display sizes.
- Did you proofread the content AND the subject line? Again, it’s credibility if you can’t get the subject line correct forget it… I’m not doing a loan with you.
- Does it look “cool”? This is increasingly important for our target demographics (ie Gen Y Millenials) This means you are NOT using goofy fonts, colors, images and all the other things that make your email look “GOOFY”!
By far the easiest way to test is to use a third party email rendering application such as Litmus®. Litmus can simulate the rendering of your email in dozens of different email programs and devices.
Well, that’s enough for now. Lots to contemplate for your next email campaign right? Stay tuned for the next and final article on this topic!