Just finished reading Michael Pollan's new book In Defense of Food, where he distills his approach to eating healthy down to seven simple words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." What's beautiful about that is that it's general enough that everyone can follow it, and open for interpretation so that it can fit with anyone's lifestyle.
Last week, I stopped by the Marketing Sherpa Email Summit in Miami, and it seemed like marketers from every industry, at every level, were grappling with questions about segmentation, frequency of sending email, types of message to send.
So with a nod to Pollan, let me suggest an approach that may fit into any marketer's email marketing approach.
No, email marketing is not dead. If anything, corporate spending on the medium is increasing, and as the next wave of personalization and preference technology becomes more ubiquitous, and spam filters get better, It seems as if a new age of email marketing is nearly upon us.
Not too much.
Sitting with a bunch of my customers in Atlanta, I asked how much email to them from our company was too much. The consensus was that there is no consensus.
It reminds me of a question I asked the audience at the OMS in San Diego a few weeks ago: How do you know when your toast is done?
Some people like their bread toasted super light, barely warm. Others like it burn crispy so that the melted butter glosses the top of it. So how much email is too much? You have to ask your customers. They're generally more than happy to let you know. Keeping an eye on their Digital Body Language, their online behavior in reaction to your email send, is the best way to track their interest.
This was clear, both at the Sherpa show and at our customer group meeting. If you are sending email on an ongoing basis to your customers, whether it's a regular newsletter, a multi-touch nurturing program, or an introductory note, be sure that what you communicate is of more value to them than their perceived value of their attention.
In a commercial transaction (as opposed to personal), there is an economy of information, where people trade their attention to you in exchange for something of value -- a new approach, an idea as to how to do their job better, some research that allows them to compare themselves to their peers.
If what you're sending is mostly educational, your perceived value will be high to your recipients, and you will find your open rates go up, your response rates increase. And you'll likely find that you are top of mind when the customer is ready to move from the investigative phase of their buying cycle into the consideration phase.
More from Sherpa
Other bloggers have written about their impression of the event. Here are some of the summaries I’ve read:
New objectives in email writing in 2008
Janine from VResponse had some interesting observations and I'm now 0 for 3 on events we're both at, but have no conversation longer than "hey there." with her. Check out her notes:
And Duct Tape Marketing's Ubertaper John Jantsch scored an interview with Sherpa chief Eric Stockton to talk about Sherpa's mission and it's future.