June 18, 2002 Volume 2 Issue 2
Mama don't 'low no E-zine playin' 'round here
My radio is playing a blue grass / New Orleans jazz style piece titled Mama don't 'low.
It's an upbeat piece of music. The lyrics change with the artist - you add almost anything to the end of "Mama don't 'low". Such as ... " any guitar playin' 'round here". Or "... fiddle playin' 'round here". Or "... dancin' 'round here". Whatever fits your mood as you're thinking about Mama.
The tune got me to thinking about marketing and E-zine marketing. What is allowed, and what is not? What is expected, what is passed over? Which E-zines get opened, which get read? Which get passed along?
Next week the First Anniversary issue of this E-zine - a special two-week edition - will fly your way. I've been planning this for several months. I've done a lot of online looking. Reviewing the score or so E-zines I receive each day.
And reading the print trade, too - as there has been a lot of ink about E-zines. Electronic newsletters. Sent by E-mail, often with links to more of the story posted on the senders web site. Just like this one.
So, what have I learned in my digging about? What will Mama 'low? Well, what I've learned is that almost everyone who is anyone has an opinion about the E-zine as a marketing tool. No matter what Mama says!
How it should (or should not!) become a part of your marketing programs. What it should look like ... html with graphic support, or plain text. Interactive or not. There have been discussions about east/west scrolling, as well as the more conventional north/south.
There is chatter about type size. And style ... serif (best for reading things you hold in your hand, like a magazine, a newspaper, piece of direct mail, a brochure). Or san-serif (best for things read at a distance, such as a poster, a billboard, a sign). At the end of the day, there is no answer to this one. Why? Because there has been no research on reading type off the screen. All there is is opinion. Mine. Your webmaster. Your creative director. Our customer!
There are lists, too. I like lists - they get attention. I find in my seminars people pay attention to lists. They begin to take notes when I announce I have 7 points to make.
Well, there are certainly a wide collection of E-direction lists. Some with 10 points, others with 5 or 7. Or 22. Such as The Top Ten Tips for Successful E-Marketing. And Five E-Marketing Trends to Watch.
Writing that Works, one of the sources I researched, talked E-zine value, with this statement; "No matter how easy the text is to read, people will ignore it if they don't value the information." Touche!
From the same document, this; "... it's not how 'pretty' a publication is (print or electronic), but how worthwhile the information is to the reader." Double touche!!
Paul Horstmeirer of Hewlett-Packard says it this way: "E-mail name acquisition is all about relevance, usually contextual relevance." Applied to this E-zine story, if your message means something to your marketplace you've got something working. If it does not, you do not.
Each of these statements support the concept of opt-in, for some double-opt-in. Meaning your send your E-zine only to those who agree to allow you to send it. No "cold call" mailings. SPAM is out.
Oh, the folks at WtW are not saying readability is unimportant. Only that it is a piece of the total, not the end result. The end result may have as an objective;
No matter the message or tone of your words, an E-zine is an action piece. Even when the sell is soft.
My guess is Mama of "Mama don't 'low" fame would have a list for E-zine marketing. This is what I think she might say;
#1). Strategy comes before tactics
Meaning, have a plan. Know why you are creating an E-zine in the first place. What is its' purpose? Who cares? Have direction - have focus. Know why you're talking the time and making the effort to get this document out. Have achievable objectives. And have them from the get-go. From the beginning.
#2). Understand your customers' needs
And then write to those needs in a style and format your customer will understand. No one knows what you have to offer better than you do. Yet, you still must tell your story. In a way your marketplace understands. Avoid jargon. And "inside" lingo. Eliminate abbreviations ... spell everything out. This is not talking 'down" to your audience - it is talking with them. You do this best when you write as you would speak in a 1:1 conversation.
#3). Your subject line is critical
And so is the "from" line.
The subject line must be believable. Subject headlines SCREAMING at me are deleted before opening. And, they are guaranteed to go to the waste basket if I do not recognize the name in "from".
Your audience, at home or in the office, is busy. Make certain they "see" in a mil-a-second who you are. And understand in the next second enough about your offer to "click" open.
#4). Make your message personal & friendly - and keep it relevant
There's a lot here. Personal is not private - you must choose your words carefully. Be sure you do - there are 625,000 in English. You have a choice - chose wisely.
Friendly does not mean you are invited to my home for dinner ... it means talk to me in a language that is outgoing. Warm. Written so I believe what you say.
Which also means the topic must be meaningful to me - relevant to my cause. Know your customer. And then talk to them as you would one-on-one.
#5). Start fast ... and take as long as it takes
There is no such thing as short or long. Length has nothing to do with success. Only interesting and uninteresting. Period!
Still, with your E-zine you must be interesting quickly. Story telling is AOK, as long as you start at a run. You can slow down later, if you must.
It's not that your audience doesn't have time to read - they do. Yet, they select what they are going to read. Be interesting - get selected.
#6). Be creative ... use color, bold, graphics to enhance
Just like you do in print. The world is tuned in to color and style. Pictures and illustrations. Like it or not, we all live in a graphic world. Why, even the staid Wall Street Journal is upgrading with color and more.
Yes, some E-mail programs will not support HTML - text only. The answer is to offer a text version along with a graphic version. Let your audience pick what works best for them. They will!
#7). Have 1, 2, 3 calls to action
At a minimum, several direct links into your web site. With a meaningful offer ... so there is a reason to go!
Include a complete signature block with a "hot" E-mail link back to you. i.e., make it easy for your prospect to become your customer. And your customer to buy more of what you sell. Allow your audience to come to you as often as they wish, and any way they wish. Make it easy to measure success with several calls to action.
That's what I think Mama would 'low. Anything not on this list will most likely get you a bit of music that sings Mama don't 'low that here!
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.