In every presentation I give, the first and most important message I want marketers to understand is that people hate (some) email. They have violent reactions to having to wade through garbage in their inboxes in order to get to the messages they want and need to read. Email is personal and intrusive -- and effective. Telemarketing had the same blessings and the same curse. Marketers felt that as long as the dollars continued to roll in, they would continue to ply the trade, with disastrous results for the entire industry.
It is a cautionary tale. It's the reason I preach about providing consumer value, rather than barraging readers with commercial messages "because we can."
A great email program has many components, but one that is missing is lagniappe, defined by Merriam Webster as a "small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly: something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure."
I suggest that you find a way to give little extras in your email. First, it keeps readers opening to find the next surprise inside. Open rates are partly a function of the subject line, but also depend on the reader's previous experience with your email. If you occasionally throw in a little extra, you will keep them opening.
Lagniappe also says "thank you" to your readers. They have given up their valuable email addresses and precious inbox space to you. Let them know you appreciate it.
Lagniappe can be in the form of a classic direct response offer: gift with purchase, free shipping, discount, etc., but also a little digital goodie: a wallpaper, screensaver, printable gift tag, whitepaper, game, joke, and so on. It should be harmonious with your brand and interesting or amusing to the subscriber.
A really great idea can have viral impact; it makes people want to forward to friends and encourage them to sign up as well. We spend thousands on a campaign; why not invest some of that to delight the reader and keep them coming back for more?
I would love to hear from those who are using this technique with examples of what has worked. Let's all do our part to make commercial email welcome in the inbox, for the sake of our readers and our industry.
The Email Diva