Outfox Your Email Competition

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If you’re anything like me, you get a lot of emails over the course of a single day.

For me, that number often reaches the triple digit mark. Those emails range from email newsletters to social media updates (shout out to that new follower on Twitter and the five tweets that they favorited) to promotions and product updates. It becomes a lot to deal and that’s why you often see people’s inboxes spiral out of control with hundreds, if not thousands, of unread messages. With that kind of volume, it becomes increasingly easy for the average subscriber to completely miss the monthly newsletter that your company is sending. Think about it, over the span of that one month, your email could be one out of 3000 or so in their inbox. To keep from getting lost in the shuffle, you need to outfox the competition. What do I mean by that? Let me take a step back and explain.

In the last few months, the sports world has been abuzz about Leicester City Football Club (AKA the Foxes), the spunky little soccer team from England’s East Midlands that defied ridiculous odds and win the English Premier League title with a pair of games to spare in the 2015/16 season. If you happened to miss the story as the season progressed, it goes that Leicester City were one of the worst teams in England’s top league during the 2014/15 season. They barely escaped relegation and earned the chance to play in the Premier League for another year.

At the start of the 2015/16 season, the bookmakers in England gave every team in England their odds of winning the league. Due to the fact that the Foxes were dreadful for so much of the season before that, the bookies handed them impossibly long odds of 5000:1 to actually finish in first place. To put that into perspective, the Miracle on Ice (the famous 1980 Winter Olympics hockey medal round game between the United States and the Soviet Union’s national teams) gave the United States long shot odds of 1000:1. Anyway, Leicester City started the season on a roll and the whole of the soccer world assumed that it would just be a matter of time before their hard-running style would tire them out and the preseason favorites would eventually catch up. That never happened and the Foxes rolled past the competition week in and week out to win the league, becoming one of only six teams (out of the 47 total to have ever played in the Premier League) to actually take the title.

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Your monthly newsletter’s odds of standing out aren’t nearly as much of a long shot as Leicester City’s were but it’s good to know that there is still a precedent for your work to come out on top. the question now is: “how?”

The answer? Your email newsletter has to provide useful, relevant information and it has to look good while doing it.

Your readers don’t have time to read essays in their inbox. The average email open time is only 15-20 seconds so you need to get the information that you want them to see right away. How do you go about that?

Curate

If your company is blogging with BARQAR Marketing or doing it independently, there’s a good chance that you have a lot of content to share. Some of our clients do 12 blog posts per month and as you can imagine, that would make for a very long newsletter that will likely be abandoned way before the reader manages to lay eyes on the majority of the content. This means that not only would a lot of effort be wasted in compiling that content and placing it into the newsletter but that readers may start avoiding your mailings because they know that they will never read the whole thing. In order to get around this:

  • Pick what you want them to see whether it’s the most popular content of the month or it’s something that you need more people to see.
  • Keep it simple by choosing 2-4 pieces of content that you want to feature. You can always place more text links at the end of the email or link between posts on your blog
  • Draw them in with clear headlines, short and sweet descriptions of what the post is about, and make it easy for them to get to your post with clear links and calls to action.

Design

Ugly emails turn people away. If your newsletter is difficult to read from a design standpoint due to tiny type, poor color choices, or broken code, your readers will learn quickly that they should stay away. Good design helps prevent this by improving readability, making content visually appealing, and giving the reader a clear path to get the content in full. Here’s how:

  • Give your content life. Plain text is boring. It fails to grab attention and it fails to differentiate itself.
  • Give your content breathing space. Scrolling is a fact of life on the internet now and users, especially those on mobile, have to continue down the page in order to get more information. Take advantage of this by keeping posts clearly separated with a comfortable amount of space between lines of text and between each section.
  • Creating a visual hierarchy makes calls to action clear. Make your buttons stand out from the background and text and make it obvious that those are the actions that the reader needs to take.
  • Use visuals where possible. It’s no secret that images grab attention better than plain (or colored) text would. Use relevant photography or illustration to really emphasize your newsletter items and entice readers to click through.

When sending out a newsletter, you’re fighting for the attention of each and every one of your readers while being up against a lot of competition in doing so. You’re up against the odds but that certainly doesn’t have to stop you.  Just outfox the competition!

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