Striking the Right Balance With Email Content
When email marketers talk about “the right amount of content” to send to customers, often they're referring specifically to the number of emails sent within a given time period. From a strategic perspective, the rule of thumb has been if the message is relevant, then it's worth sending. From a creative perspective, determining the right amount of content for a specific campaign is less clear cut.
Ultimately, the purpose of almost all email messages is to facilitate engagement and guide recipients to take action on a landing page or website. Generally, the most effective way to do this is to highlight critical content that's easily scanned and acted upon. Sometimes though, you have to include more supporting content to get to that point. The question is, once you consider such factors as inbox competition, emerging communication channels, changing consumer habits and rendering issues, what's the right amount?
There are four factors to consider when trying to determine your customers’ email content tolerance: brand enthusiasm, message criticality, predictive rendering device and current data. Here are more details about these factors:
This is where marketers have to be honest with themselves and understand their brand’s perception and reason for existing within the marketplace. For example, if your primary product is insurance, chances are there will be less enthusiasm for your messages when compared to a favorite retailer. In this scenario, your best bet is to focus on your core message and communicate it as quickly and effectively as possible.
Of course, this is advice all email marketers should adhere to. But the difference is that some marketers may have additional flexibility to craft a story or theme within a given message where the brand experience is as important as the specific message itself.
Working with the assumption that the basic purpose of your message is relevant, there are still varying degrees of urgency among your desired messaging points. They key is to determine what's needed to drive immediate engagement and what can be communicated either at a later date or once on a web page. This can be a little tricky in some scenarios, such as a welcome message.
You'll want to include multiple messaging points, since this is likely to be one of your most widely read communications. At the same time, there's real risk of rendering your message ineffective by obscuring your main points and overwhelming the recipient with excessive content. One option is to break down what needs to be explained and what can be highlighted in a navigation bar, text link within a paragraph or side rail quick link. This way, you can hopefully cover all your needs while emphasizing your main points.
Predicted rendering device
As more consumers migrate to mobile devices, the less likely they'll be willing to read an email with extensive content — no matter how critical. They may choose to save and review later, which may be the best you can hope for in certain scenarios. But if you know a significant portion of your audience is using a mobile device to view your messages, it makes sense to keep your content light and to the point.
Conversely, if you predict a significant portion of your list is viewing your messages on a desktop or laptop, you might have more flexibility to include more robust content. Realistically, marketers should count less on this scenario as the mobile experience continues to expand. Consumers are frequently using more than one channel to receive information about your brand, products and services.
Finally, one of the best guides is already at your fingertips. An analysis of past campaigns can provide great insight into your customers’ preferences and needs. Once you can answer questions such as “Where do my customer clicks drop off?” and “What are my most popular links?,” you can better craft your content to reflect these facts.
If your data is inconclusive and you have the capacity to support some basic A/B testing, comparing the results of two campaigns with the same primary message can be very insightful. You may find your emails perform better with just a single message, or the opposite, where secondary or recovery content helps further drive engagement. If you don’t know, there's only one way to find out.
The intention isn't to question many widely recognized best practices such as including secondary content and a recovery zone to highlight optional paths for engagement. The focus here is to make sure you have the right content and the right amount.
As email marketing continues to evolve, your email campaigns may be exceeding the content tolerance of your recipients. It's essential to find out what's the ideal amount of content based on available data in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Not only will you enhance the user experience and improve your metrics, but any chance to cut time and unnecessary creative and production costs should not be passed up.
Related story: 6 Steps to a Successful Subscriber Preference Center