From the Trenches: Three TImes a Charm
“What gives?” I asked him after he was done. “Were you too lazy to update your content?” He laughed at me and said something along the lines of, “New city, new faces. To them it’s new content. It’s a good message, and I'll use this presentation as many times as I can before I update it.”
I was shocked. I speak and write a lot. And one of the things I work very hard to do is always present fresh and new content every time. In my opinion, people are taking time to listen to me, so I better darn well provide something worth listening to.
We ended our conversation agreeing to disagree on the topic, and off we went.
So what does this have to do with e-mail marketing? Good question. A few weeks ago, I had received an e-mail from a customer who had asked when Zinio was going to add a feature that we not only already added, but also e-mailed an announcement about to our list. This got me thinking. The light bulb went off, and I flashed back to the conversation I just explained above.
If people don't read your e-mail, he doesn’t know what you said.
Sounds silly, right? But I'd bet you $50 (yes, you can e-mail me if I owe you the money) that your e-mail content and strategy make the assumption that people read and digest every message you send. If you’re planning your e-mail content to build off prior content themes, you might be missing the boat.
Just because we e-mailed all our customers messages saying they can read three articles in any magazine for free, that doesn’t mean they all read the e-mail. We need to repeat ourselves, just like in online advertising. I’ve heard that it takes four exposures to a piece of online content before someone actually comprehends it. Shouldn’t e-mail be the same?
At the Email Experience Council, we tested repetition in some e-mails as well and found repeating ourselves three times seemed to be the key with e-mail offers and messages. The offer started as a lead story, then was sent as a featured callout and finally was positioned as a last-chance offer. To those different people who read it each time, it isn’t repetitive; it’s brand-new!
Now that you’re done reading this article, click here and read it two more times. I’m pretty sure you’ll pick up on something you missed the first time around.
Who knows, maybe my colleague was right after all.
By the way, we're practicing what I just preached at Zinio. We’re implementing a new strategy that repeats messages and offers three times over two weeks. Stay tuned. I’ll report back on the results next month.
Jeanniey Mullen is the chief marketing officer for New York-based digital publisher Zinio and its sister company, VIVmag, an exclusively digital luxury lifestyle magazine for women. She's also the executive director of the Email Experience Council, the world’s largest e-mail marketing trade organization. Reach Jeanniey at email@example.com.