We place a lot of pressure on our email programs, often expecting exceptionally high contributions towards an event’s or product’s success. There is nothing wrong with that – email can take a lot of heat, and it’s no coincidence that it is the go-to channel for most marketing communications. Over the years, email has proven to be effective, efficient and reliable.
But come on – give yourself a little credit here. Your email program, no matter how well-oiled, doesn’t run itself. The success you enjoy from it has more to do with the way you and your company approach it than the unique environment that is the inbox.
Many of the articles right here on this blog are all about the ways you can approach email to squeeze even more productivity out of it. Some of the success of your email program, however, is not a function of how you approach email, but how your organization does business overall. Email is the conduit for your company’s reputation and brand. It is possible for a strong brand to have a lousy email program, but I have never seen an example where a poorly run company enjoys sustained success through email marketing. I have seen unknown companies build their brands largely through email, though the correlation is unchanged: only successful companies enjoy successful email programs.
If your email program is going well, take some credit for your execution of email and extend an attaboy to the corner office as well. It is this collaboration between the channel and your brand that drives success. But if your email program is not performing as strongly as you would like, there are two things you can do: 1) improve the execution of your email, and 2) use the email channel to strengthen your company’s brand and reputation. Most of this blog is about the former, so today’s post will focus on the latter. Here are some tactics:
Remind Subscribers of the Brand Promise or Mission Statement. Your organization’s emails come from many different departments on all manner of topics, but they are all ultimately born from the same company mission or brand promise. Use the footer of every message – no matter who from – to reinforce the message your company needs to communicate. Like the “About Us” section at the bottom of a press release, use this real estate persistently and the message will start to resonate.
Invest in a voice, or at least a style guide. If your brand is in the process of positioning or re-positioning, a constant voice within your emails can go a long way towards conveying the brand attributes important to your organization. For example, if you define your brand as “authoritative, credible, professional” your emails should not include exclamation points and whimsically colored text. If you want your brand to be perceived as “approachable, community-oriented, energetic” emails written from a first-person perspective and in an engaging, conversational tone will help convey the positioning. Email is a strategic communication, but only when it reflects the communication strategy.
Create a new content channel. In addition to using your existing messages to reinforce your brand, consider an entirely new newsletter, monthly update or other content channel expressly for the purpose. If you find, for example, that your association’s member benefits are largely unknown, launch a monthly newsletter on benefits, highlighting one each issue, and/or including a case study of how a member received value from a particular benefit. Have a new chief executive? Launch a quarterly update written by him/her, discussing the state of the company at a strategic level. Whatever is important to your organization, surely there is much activity aimed there. The job of this newsletter or message series is to call attention to the work you’re already doing, to reinforce the brand impact.