In a recent article in MediaPost, Kara Trivunovic responded to a tweet by @BenchmarkEmail about what it takes to keep subscribers engaged in their content. We weren't surprised that readability and creating relevant content were at the top of the list; in order for an audience to be truly engaged, they must be able to easily access and scan email messages for information. Earlier this year, we published a similar article on driving email response rates, B2B Trends for Healthcare Marketers.
Content is a challenge for marketers today, largely due to our ability to target individuals via email so succinctly. But having the ability to identify these customers and not having anything unique to say to them can have negative ramifications all the way around. So when you are planning your content, what types should you consider that will keep your subscribers wanting more?
Realistically, what is going to resonate will be different from brand to brand, and even subscriber to subscriber -- but there are a few general areas we can focus on that will give a broad audience something to dig into:
Email is a very visual channel -- but once upon a time, the inclusion of extensive visual elements in your email program was frowned upon. The issues were typically related to file size, deliverability and ultimately loss of message due to image suppression. Today, however, the concerns are fewer and email creative is really starting to stand out. “They” say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in email those words couldn’t ring truer. A compelling and relevant image can really draw your subscriber in. It could be as simple as featuring a photo with a family to relate to those subscribers who have kids.
Motion in Email
As with visual content, we have made some significant advances for including motion (and interactivity) in email today. This has more to do with the inbox providers allowing a wider breadth of code to render in the inbox environment than any coding advancements that have been made. Regardless, it is possible -- and effective. Including animated gifs, video, surveys and tap- to-interact content has demonstrated lifts in email engagement of 40% or more for many brands (but clearly this is very dependent on the brand, the email and the content).
People Love Lists
Test after test after test that I have seen demonstrates that lists work. People love lists. So consider the top three best ideas of the month, the top 10 most-posted pieces of content, and the top four best-selling items of the month. It isn’t a tactic you should leverage daily as a content strategy, but sprinkled throughout the mix of other tactics, it can prove very engaging.
Emails that include your customers via quotes, tweets, testimonials and images is content that gets attention. Showing the real-life use of products provides a less marketer-centric, more customer-centric view, one focused on connecting with other like-minded subscribers.
I could go on and on about content that engages, but my final piece of advice is that you have to be mindful of your content length. Too much of a good thing can turn bad really quickly. Knowing when to say when (while not a content type) is a content rule that will help engage subscribers as well.