This article may seem a little odd (read: hypocritical, confusing, contradictory, self-deprecating yet self-serving) but bear with us. It is merely looking at both sides of the argument.
We have already talked about eShots (HTML marketing/informative emails) and their benefits and technicalities, and we’re sure to return to them at a later date as well. Here we aim to look at the other side of the coin.
There’s no denying it, this is a digital world and everyone (within reason) is connected to one another by the internet, communicating in one way or another via the World Wide Web (not the same thing, F.Y.I.). What sensible person would not attempt to use this pervasive, ubiquitous medium to communicate their business services to the masses? Well, there are three operative words in that sentence, carefully chosen to illustrate exactly we’re trying to make:
Adjective – …spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people. Great, just what you need when trying to communicate with lots of people, right? However, let’s expand this truncated definition to the full Oxford dictionary entry: (Especially of an unwelcome influence or physical effect) spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people. And there you have the negative side: it’s difficult to get away from this constant bombardment of information and sales, even (especially?) on something as ‘private’ as your smartphone. It’s even more difficult to distinguish between useful information and senseless ‘spam’. One finds oneself trawling through endless emails during the day, wondering what websites one could possibly have visited in order to have ‘signed up’ for most of the rubbish that clamours for attention on one’s phone. More often that not it’s [unsubscribe] that gets subsequently clicked, rather than [buy].
Thankfully, there are now laws protecting people from unsolicited emails, requiring that recipients must have requested to receive marketing emails from the sender, or at least that they get an explanation as to why they are receiving them. They must also have the option to easily unsubscribe from future emails. Any further emails could constitute harassment.
Adjective – present, appearing or found everywhere. True, this has become the primary means of communicating with lots of people these days, short of television adverts (which are ridiculously expensive) and radio adverts (which are often ridiculously puerile). The problem with this is that the sender risks blending in and simply becoming just another…sender. We come back to the previous point about discerning the quality from the qrap but, more than that, can’t you think of something more creative than just another eShot? More on this later.
An idiom, so no insightful etymology here, but the point is obvious. Just look at the vernacular synonyms: ‘the herd’, ‘the great unwashed’ – who wants to be associated with, well, everyone? But this is what happens with non-targetted eShots. Everyone receives the same thing. You’re in a database, just a series of 1s and 0s. If the information you receive is actually useful and you have a real reason for being targeted then you just don’t care, but if the email is in any way generic or has the audacity to purport to be designed, written for and sent only to you, then you get really
pis irate. Or maybe it’s just the author.
As suggested in the intro, this post may appear to be a succinct way to shoot ourselves in the foot, but it’s not – it’s a wake-up call to get people to think about what they send out and not just follow the crowd. Yes, you probably do need to be sending out something, or your customers will be drawn to those who are – if you don’t tell them about you, they won’t know about you. Just don’t alienate them.
Sure, use data merging to include their name in the subject, but try to blend it in seamlessly and don’t overdo it (they’ll realise that you’ve just discovered that particular button and are frantically bashing it). Don’t insult people’s intelligence by trying to convince them that you’ve spent the time writing them a personal email.
Send them general information about sales and services, but only if they have subscribed to it. Where possible, use a system with if/then logic, so that they only receive a certain email if they have clicked on a previous one to show interest.
Don’t irritate them with a barrage of emails, limit them to once a week or even once a month but make them really attractive and useful. Quality, not quantity. Think of Harrods’ ‘There is only one sale’ – when people see that billboard they take notice.
Most importantly, try to send people information about subjects in which that have actually shown an interest. Have differently focused campaigns aimed at people who have specific interests.
What’s the alternative? This is really the point that this whole article has been approaching: are eShots the be all and end all? They certainly have their place and most businesses need to have their finger on the pulse and realise that they need some sort of digital communication. If it is done well, is not insulting, and if it conveys genuinely useful and relevant information, perfect. However, has this digital zeitgeist left other, more traditional methods of communication largely ignored? You want to show (pretend?) that you have made some effort and sent something personal or targeted to a particular set of clients – say, those who have bought a particular type of product and may want to buy accessories for it? Then do just that: make the effort. People appear to be moving away from printed marketing in the belief that it is old fashioned and damages the environment. In truth, a focused marketing campaign using recycled materials will have a negligible carbon footprint and will show real attention to detail and an eye for traditional methods. A lot of people actually miss having something they can hold and flick through.
Also, bear this in mind: if everyone is just sending out endless eShots but your customer gets a well-designed version through their door, you’ll probably be the only business with a physical presence in that customer’s postbox. The digital method has become so popular so quickly that printed marketing has actually become niche rather than the norm. Incredibly, if you want to stand out these days, send them a flyer or a postcard! If you want to remain deferential to digital, put a QR code on it which will take them to your website at the click of a smartphone camera button.
eShots have their place. If you want to talk about them or about a corresponding printed campaign, give FirstpointPrint a call.