Email Marketing: What’s in it for . . . Them?

As a broad guideline, at least 50% of your email communications should have a clear benefit for your recipients.  A higher percentage is fine, a lower percentage will often result in list fatigue and opt outs.

This seems like a simple equation but it gets complicated when email marketers confuse what benefits them and what is a benefit to the recipients.  So here is a sample of “for them” and “for us”:

For Them:

  • Valuable information – This can be research papers, articles, audio or video tips, or directories to other information but it has to be quality content.
  • Product or service discounts – This can be a special offer to the recipient base or coupons but it has to be a legitimate offer that is simple to take advantage of without strings attached.
  • Request fulfillment – This should be a direct response to a request typically resulting from targeted list segmentation.  For example, if a person specifically asked to know when new items come out in a certain product line, then an email highlighting that item is for them.

For Us:

  • Product or service launches – These emails talk about us.  Of course they should be written to highlight the value to recipients, but it’s still about us.
  • Untargeted promotions – A store wide sale isn’t a specific offer to a select list.  Hopefully it will garner recipient’s interest but it’s an open promotion that recipients may or may not be interested in.
  • Events – Events are another step in engaging or closing prospects and benefits us.  Even if your event has valuable information or entertainment (which they all should) and is free, the event is more about us than recipients.
  • Surveys – Surveys are always asking for recipients’ time which is valuable.  We reap the benefit of their responses so unless there is an easily redeemed reward, a survey is for us.

As a general rule, if the email’s primary goal is about moving prospects further into a sales or marketing funnel, it’s about us.  Of course that is what almost every email campaign is about in one way or the other, but we need to provide a give and take.  It’s perfectly reasonable to promote your products, services, or events, just make sure that recipients don’t get flooded with too much about you and very little for them.