Category Archives: Email marketing tips

Keep It Simple


In our busy, complex personal and professional lives, filled with information coming from every imaginable source, simple things are appreciated. We all have a finite amount of time and attention to give each day.

Here’s how you can help…

  1. Write shorter paragraphs, using shorter sentences.
  2. Edit your email signature and dump all that legalese at the bottom (which no one ever reads anyway).
  3. If you own a restaurant, eliminate half of your menu items. You’ll make life easier for your diners, your staff and yourself.
  4. Include just one sales message in your marketing emails. (You don’t have to tell me everything about your organization.)
  5. Make sure images in your emails and on your website are as recognizable on a tiny phone screen as they are on your big desktop screen.
  6. Facebook and Instagram allow for long posts. Don’t do it! Most of us will just scroll on past the long ones. (Thanks, Twitter, for maintaining a maximum post length.)
  7. Place a time limit on videos you share. How long? Determine what your audience is comfortable with. (Consider that some of us may hesitate to watch a 7-minute video but will gladly watch 7 one-minute videos.)
  8. Be merciless when editing content. Three good paragraphs beats twelve mediocre paragraphs every time.
  9. Unless it’s your doctoral dissertation, don’t be afraid to use sentence fragments, when appropriate.

For a perfect example of the beauty and effectiveness of a simple approach, compare the layouts of with and (Google has a 67.68% market share for searches; Bing, 13.27%; Yahoo, 8.14%.)

An almost infinite number of choices in many aspects of our life is wonderful. Unless we want the regular version, in the standard size, and it’s not in stock. Have you ever gone grocery shopping and found a dozen or more variations on the product you want, but not the particular version you want?

The great singer/songwriter Merle Haggard who died last week was once quoted as saying, “The most important thing in a song is simplicity.” Keep it simple.

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Don’t Bury Your Message


During my media career, I have observed the full spectrum of messaging styles. I am convinced that, in almost all cases, the best way to generate a desired response is to make your call to action direct, clear and unambiguous.

Hard sell commercials on radio and TV may be annoying but they exist to sell a product or service or to motivate you to do something that is likely to lead to a purchase—such as visit a store or website, call for more info or ask a doctor to prescribe a medication.

In our new media world, much of the promotional messaging we receive is more subtle and low-key. Often, the call to action may be hidden deep within useful or entertaining content. The call to action may only be implied or vaguely suggested.

A Facebook post that shows a cute puppy may not contain verbiage that urges you to visit a certain pet supply store. But if it’s on the Petco page, you are likely to make a connection and may be more prone to shop there. When Petco mentions a 20% discount in its posts and encourages you to shop by a deadline date, you may be likely to respond (than to the simple puppy pic).

My earliest guidance on email marketing made a strong case for including useful or entertaining content (to assure a significant open rate) in each email and including a sales message almost as an afterthought. While this may work for some, I prefer to describe what is being offered, issue a call to action, then provide means for response: website, email address, phone number, etc.

In today’s environment where we are being inundated with more messages than
before from a larger number of sources, it is important to state what you’re selling, share a key selling point or two and tell how to buy your product or service. Burying your pitch deep inside your content may not produce your desired outcome.

With that thought in mind, a quick (direct, clear and unambiguous) message about my work: I help businesses tell their stories and promote their products and services via media placements, social media and email marketing (among other channels). If you or someone you know needs help with getting key messages to target customers, please call me in St. Louis at 636-346-3434.


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I Like Email Marketing



First thing every morning: spend a few minutes scrolling through email. Delete most, skim some, actually read a few. In rare cases, click on links. Repeat several times throughout the day. This may occur before or after checking social channels for new posts.

As Facebook and other social media continue to grow and evolve, email marketing may, for some, become an afterthought. We’ve had email since the 90s (80s for some), but you probably only began to embrace social during the past decade.

I would never devalue the importance of growing your community on Facebook and other social channels, but email continues to provide an effective, efficient and inexpensive way to reach your target. Social campaigns you judge successful can be enhanced with email backup.

Yes, it’s generally a small minority of email recipients who open marketing emails. Similarly, your less-engaging Facebook posts may only be seen a tiny portion of followers. And, whereas many of your partisans who choose to receive your emails may also be Facebook fans, you can’t presume that most are.

The engagement level you note on social posts can inform your content choices for your email. If you get tons of shares, likes and comments for a photo of, say, your Pumpkin Spice Bacon Peanut Butter Soft Taco, it’s safe to presume the folks on your email list might respond warmly as well.

In mass media advertising, many successful TV campaigns are supported with radio, print and online ads. Since TV is the most effective mass advertising medium, ads on other media are likely to get less attention. Social campaigns generate tons of buzz nowadays and email is old hat. (The movie You’ve Got Mail came out 16 years ago!) But in 2014, email still deserves your attention for all it can do.


(photo credit:,,

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Want Contact Info? Make It Easy.

I attended an “expo” type event recently where vendors had their swag and brochures set up at their booths. Many had “register to win” giveaways. I filled out a couple of entries for gift cards or whatever, writing down my name, phone number and email address. I know that some will add me to their email list, some may even call and I will probably not win anything.

Other vendors wanted to learn more about me (age range, address, homeowner status, etc.) to determine if I was a good prospect for the services they offer. I might have been willing to share my name, email and phone number, but didn’t care to take the time to share more. For want of greater detail, they missed out on getting my basic contact info.

A recent presentation on lead generation at a PRSA-St. Louis event included guidance on gathering information from website visitors. The presenters suggested that, in many cases, it is a best practice to collect nothing more than name and email address from those web visitors who wish to interact. It simplifies things but leaves the door open for further interactions.

With some organizations, more contact information is collected in person than online. A retailer may have forms near the checkout area to be filled out by patrons who would like to receive emails with news about products and offers. A restaurant may ask diners to fill out a comment card and include an email address. (Restaurants should also ask for phone numbers to call those whose dining experience was not totally satisfactory. Some ask for birthday and anniversary information to offer good wishes and/or freebies each year.)

If your business uses this in person method to build an email list, be sure to leave plenty of room on the form for longer email addresses. Speaking as one who has spent many an hour trying to decipher hastily scribbled email addresses, I can guarantee it will help ensure that you are sending your message to a functional inbox.



Seven Email Marketing Tips

  1. Is your email being opened on a mobile device? Yes! You bet it is! When your email is composed and ready to be tested, check it out on your primary email client. Then see how it looks on various browsers via your Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo accounts. Then, see how it looks on your mobile phone and your tablet. Your copy or a photo that looks good on your 17-inch monitor may look horrible on your phone.
  2. If you’re going to include 5 or more items in your marketing email, make them very short. OR include the item’s first two sentences but provide a link to a longer version of the item on your website or blog.
  3. Use your subject line to convey your message. If your message is that your furniture store has new leather ottomans, your subject line should read: “New Leather Ottomans,” NOT “October Newsletter” or “Latest News from Leather Town.”
  4. Don’t use the “Comic Sans” font. Ever. Yes, it looks friendly and casual. And it’s legible. But it just doesn’t look very business-like. Ditch it.
  5. Use bullet points and bold face print. Many of us are email skimmers (see 9/13/12 post “Is Too Much Enough?” ) who may not take 90 seconds to read all your copy. But we will note those two sentences in bold face.
  6. Even though the people on your email list are partisans who, presumably, know and like your organization, be careful with complex ideas and jargon. Send a test copy to people who are not familiar with the organization and ask them to confirm your email’s clarity.
  7. Don’t forget the call to action. Don’t just tell them you have some new ottomans, invite them to come in, try them out and buy one!


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