A Quick Caveat
I am NOT a graphic designer, nor do I play one on TV. Never think that what you see in one of my blog posts comes out of our design group. I tend to brute force ideas visually and then let talented artists clean, tune and improve them. Caveat stated, here is why AFTER MARTY has a chance of converting readers to customers while BEFORE MARTY has little chance.
Homaro Cantu Food Genius
I love revolutionaries, no matter where they are and what they are doing. Homaro Cantu is a “food genius”. His MoTo and Ing restaurants are on the forefront of a cooking revolution. Creating great email marketing is like cooking. Too much of anything ruins the dish. Homaro’s newsletter (on the right above and linked below) arrived in my inbox needing some help from an Internet chef. Here is how I tuned Homaro’s newsletter so his audience could convert (do what he wants them to do such as buy his book and make reservations).
1. The 7 Word Headline Rule
Emails are like billboards. They are scanned FAST and visually. Flying by at 70 mph, you don’t have time to read more than 7 words on a billboard by the side of the highway. Whose life isn’t flying by at 70 mph now? No one reads anymore. Marketing is becoming more visual and less text. Create a 7 word headline. Here are some quick off the top of my head 7 word headline ideas for presenting Homaro’s cookbook:
Homaro’s Miracle Berries Cookbook Arrives 1.1.2013
Miracles In Them There Berries, New Cantu Cookbook
Chef Cantu’s Miracle Berries Cookbook – FREE
Not going to fully brainstorm the headline now, but of these ideas, FREE crushes the others in clicks and conversion. Seth Godin proved the only way to “sell” a new book is give it away, get people talking and then curate their chatter. The world is about to be awash in diet books since January is “diet season”, so Homaro should create a User Generated Content (UGC) contest and ask potential customers why it is important to win a copy of the Miracle Berries Cookbook. The value of such a campaign vs. what is there now is beyond calculation.
2. Don’t Oversell the Click
This email is set up as a “Newsletter” and thus its length, impossible size and flood of text. Even in a newsletter, the format of your emails should be highly visual and tease the click. I call the BEFORE MARTY marketing Chinese Army Marketing. This email floods the reader’s senses with information in the hope they will comply. No one ever does.
I thought the BEFORE MARTY email was spam at first glance. Even when creating monthly Newsletters, do so in a Pinterest-like, highly visual way. Use images and sub-headlines to tease the click into a landing or product page. You can’t convert on email so don’t try, and don’t oversell the click.
3. Use Occam’s Razor & Friendly CTAs
One of the problems with being an Internet marketer is you can’t see your own work after a bit. You have what the Heath brothers defined as a “Curse of knowledge” in their book Made To Stick. Things my email marketing team and I thought we had razored down to the thinnest, most minimal components were still never simple enough or clear enough.
If you want to be a successful email marketer, form a partnership with a team like the friendly dinosaurs at Bronto and let them teach you how to email market. If that is too big of a commitment, look at emails that motivate you to click: I bet there is an offer you can’t resist from a trusted source.
CTAs Are Email Marketers’ BFFs!
Call To Actions (CTAs) may be the most important missing element in the BEFORE MARTY example. There are CTAs in there, many of them, but they are so swamped with TEXT and messages that the chance of any one CTA being acted upon is zero. The Seth Godin Rule applies: One is fine, Two is pushing it and Three is insane. I pushed AFTER MARTY to 3 CTAs just to show you can fudge a little.
I like BIG, highly contrasting buttons because after years of testing, they always won. I move the second and third CTA’s down in graphical attention-getting (size and color and moved the 3rd CTA Meet Homaro to a simple text link). I want to focus response where it is needed MOST (selling the book).
FREE is the best CTA, so find a way to use it. In my example I envision a sign-up form where users share why they need miracle berries. Put the User Generated Content received from such a contest into a voting stage to really amp traffic because people competing for the book will drive their social traffic to your website (or Homaro’s).
4. What Is Goal of This Email Marketing Communication?
If you are confused about what you are trying to accomplish, your customers will be hopelessly lost. What is it Homaro and his team want their readers to do? Buy the book? Make a reservation? Both? Neither? Confused customers do many things, conversion is rarely one of them.
Notice I said “goal”, singular. Seth Godin taught me that one conversion goal on a page is a lot, two is bordering on too many and three is beyond the pale (now known as the Seth Godin Rule). Focus your communication to what you want and you may get it, don’t and you are guaranteed not too.
5. Tell a Story & Respect NOW Is Only Email Time
Funny that Homaro has created a diet book, since the diet archetype is endemic to Internet marketing. The best way to sell things online is to tell a BEFORE and AFTER hero’s journey via testimonials. Before Homaro’s book I was 50 pounds overweight, after I drive fancy sports cars and am married for the second time (lol).
The key in the lock of much of the best internet marketing is a BEFORE story full of angst and despair, then the journey (use of the product) and the return of a changed and heroic person. The “diet convention” is so strong online it is one of the few conventions you flout at your own risk.
The most powerful way to sell online is to have the confidence to let others carry their experience onto your platform. If you have a mission-critical website that doesn’t promote and seek User Generated Content (UGC), then you should read Platforms vs. Websites TODAY!
Time Is Always NOW Online
Homaro’s Ing newsletter was confusing. I didn’t know about Ing. I know his other restaurant, MoTo. If Homaro wants to discuss both restaurants, he should name the newsletter the Homaro Cantu Weekly Newsletter, as that covers all bases.
Never put edition numbers and other time codes on emails. There is only ever one time online and that is NOW. Emails are not going to be archived and looked at again, so don’t worry about edition numbers and dates. Say want you need to say and stress taking action NOW.
BONUS TIP – Tune Emails for Mobile
If your emails look like junk on someone’s phone, your clicks and open rates are plummeting and you may not know why. I know why. Since it is easier to delete mounds of spam using mobile phones and pads, these tools are becoming the gatekeepers of our inboxes and lives.
If your emails look bad on mobile, they never make it past that gatekeeping stage. Homaro’s email looks bad on my desktop, horrible on my pad and unreadable on my phone. I believe in the “mobile first’ movement. Create emails that look amazing in mobile and grow to be more and more as my screen space expands.
Hope following these 5 simple rules make your email marketing will do what you want them to do – convert and contribute profits to your bottom line.
How about you? What are your 5 email marketing secrets, tricks or rules? Share your favorite emails with a story about why you love them, and we will curate in here.
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