Think outside the inbox

Ep. 4 Takeaways from Love and Links

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About this episode
Let’s dive into the strategies and methods used in the Valentine’s Day love letter email Devin wrote for the customers, featured in Episode 3.

(1:37) Takeaway #1: Take stock of your customer lifecycle after big changes.
(3:47) Takeaway #2: Don’t be scared to sell. The products you’re pitching provide value, as long as you’re not being too pushy.
(4:46) Takeaway #3: Stop evaluating emails by length. Instead, focus on the outcome of the length.
(6:16) Takeaway #4: Borrow from other media
(8:06) Takeaway #5: Think outside the inbox, especially if you’ve got a team to help amplify
(9:24) Takeaway #6: Try a sentiment rating system

Links from this episode:
Take another look at the email we featured in Episode 3
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Speaker 1: 

You know that famous study about our attention spans being shorter than a goldfish. Well, guess what people were given to read to test their attention spans? Something insanely boring. Obviously, people didn’t pay attention to it. Welcome to email swipes, where we peek behind the scenes at the emails that catch your attention and earn their place in your swipe file. Every other week we’ll talk to an email expert about an experiment they ran and in the following episode we’ll dive into the strategies and methods used in the email so you can inform and inspire your own email work. I’m Miky Elbas, the copywriter behind winning emails for eight and nine figure Sassan e-commerce brands like Shopify, forse, sigmatic and Sprout Social, and I know that hearing the background stories to these emails will help you turn Pine the Sky insights into plug and play actions. Ready to make inspiration tactical. Let’s go First a quick recap of the email we discussed last week that we’ll be digging into today To our beloved Bitly users. From that very first visit, when you clicked Get Started, our Bitly family grew by one and with it two are hearts did. We loved watching you grow. With every link you shortened, you made meaningful connections with the click reports to support it. We’ve grown quite a lot ourselves, from a flower to a full bouquet. Once a humble tool for trimming URLs, now Bitly means much more today, adding QR codes. That was for you to grow your reach to greater heights. All your links in one convenient place, so simple, it’s black and white. Now there’s even Bitly link in bio, a page to share. That’s uniquely you. We did it all for you, every last bit, because our Bitly hearts all beat for you, xoxo Bitly. Let’s begin with the entire premise of the Bitly email. So, yes, this email is a Valentine’s Day email and it’s a customer engagement email and it’s an appreciation email. But why did they first begin to send this email out? Because they had started with one product. Then they expanded to two products and then they expanded to three. That’s why they sent the email out to get their customers up to date with what was going on with them. It came in the form of a Valentine’s Day email, but at the core, the email was an awareness email of where they are today. This is so, so important. It is so, so important to take a step back every so often and pay attention to your customer life cycle, but it’s even more important to take stock after big changes. A customer that joins in early stages is going to have a vastly different experience than a customer that joins after a big shift. It doesn’t even have to be a big shift to the product, it can be a big shift in the marketing, for example. Very often companies will create their onboarding and activation sequences after they already have a decent customer base, which makes sense. It’s a big investment to do onboarding properly and you don’t even know what’s important to include as a milestone until you have customer data. But many companies will create this new onboarding, set it up so that the new customers filter through and forget about their old customers. Obviously, old customers don’t need a whole, complete new activation. They don’t need that full walkthrough, but they do need a little bit. It’s a great idea to give them some deeper insights into the features that they’re already using. It’s a great idea to prompt them to use the features that they missed. And you can even use it to reengage customers that switched away from you because you didn’t have a feature set that they wanted and now you have it. Point is and this is takeaway number one take stock every so often, and especially after a big change, make sure that all your customers are aware and excited about new products or features. Sure, we send out feature launch emails anytime we launch a new feature, but one email isn’t the same as a concentrated. This is where we’re up to update sort of email, or even just a set of feature launch emails every so often just to remind people, especially if you see from the engagement data that they are still not using this new feature. Now let’s talk about the fact that this email came about because of legal restrictions. I love that so often we look at restrictions, especially, let’s be honest, legal restrictions we look at restrictions as well. Restrictions, ideas we can’t act on words, we can’t include budgets, we can’t cross Basically, things that make our work worse. But we all know that creativity thrives with limitations and boundaries. If we can’t use that idea, what idea can we act on? If we can’t use that word, what word can we use instead? If we can’t just throw money at the problem, what can we do to solve it? If you haven’t Googled gorilla marketing in your life, you’re in for a treat of a rabbit hole. A lot of the greatest original gorilla marketing campaigns came about because the small budgets forced to creativity. So takeaway number two if you’re struggling with an email. Can you place some limitations on yourself and next time someone puts a limitation on you, can you view it as an opportunity instead of a chain? Okay, I’m curious what you thought about the lack of links in this email. Devin said it would kill the authenticity of this email, that it wasn’t a fit. Basically, he put himself in his reader’s shoes and took out what we as marketers want to include an engagement metric, so that it would resonate better. At the same time, he did manage to create some product awareness, which is a pretty cool fee. I agree that a link isn’t appropriate here, but sometimes we’re too scared of selling and our customers actually want us to sell to them or they want us to make it easier for them to find more information. If I was using Bitly for link shortening and I had no idea about their new link and bio feature, despite the fact that I need one and I read about it in the email, I want to go check it out. I want a link to click. So I don’t know if there was an awareness follow up to this email, especially since they were waiting on legal, but in an ideal world I would definitely include an email or two after this, one to give that context and sales push to the customers who need to understand more about the new products without having to take away from the authenticity of this email. So this takeaway is really two takeaways. Number one don’t sell too much. Take off your marketer hat when you finish writing an email and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How close are those two articles of clothing? Sorry, sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s just so funny. Why do marketers get hats but customers get shoes? But I digress Part two of this takeaway don’t sell too little. If you believe in your product, you believe that giving more information and options to your readers is actually helpful, not annoying or pushy. Okay, let’s talk about length. I said it was a whole conversation and I meant it. I wish people would stop focusing on length and focus more on value. We’re so scared of long emails because most people can’t write them. Well, you know that famous study about our attention spans being shorter than a goldfish. Well, guess what people were given to read to test their attention spans? Something insanely boring. Obviously, people didn’t pay attention to it. On the flip side, sometimes we’re so fantasized by this idea of like a long email that people are going to really get into and read every word and they’re going to be drawn in and sucked in and it’s going to be so amazing. Sometimes it really is a valid strategy to want a short email, but it shouldn’t be about now. We need a short email, just like it shouldn’t be about now we need a long email. Length should just not be part of the equation. If you’re given feedback that the email length of an email you created should be different, try to dig into what that really means. And if you’re giving feedback about the length of an email and how it should be different, try to dig into the core of what that means too. Let’s say you want an email to be shorter. What do you really mean? Do you mean now we need something punchier. Now we want them to walk away and do something. Now we want to lighten the mood. It should be more about the outcome that the length gives than the actual length itself. And, by the way, sometimes when we make our readers work, we’re getting more of a micro commitment and we get better engagement. Getting a read on a short email is worth less than getting a scroll on a long email. It might make sense for your email to not fit into the screen. So takeaway number four forget the length and focus on strategy. That means being very lean. Every word must carry its weight, but it also means not being scared of having a whole lot of words that carry their weight. Now for takeaway number five, and this is the real clincher of the email the authenticity. I asked Evan what he thought made it so authentic and I think all the things we discussed tie back to the idea behind takeaway number three. Why was there no link in the email? Because it didn’t fit the goal of the email. Sometimes we need to lean into the quote, unquote email-ness of email and sometimes we’re aiming to mimic another medium. In this case, the whole idea of the email was a love letter. So the simple design, the handwriting font, the lack of CTA, those are all things that made it what it was. Takeaway number five borrow from other media. Emails don’t have to be emails. Next, omni-channel. Omni-channel is a fancy word for doing more than just email. As much as we love email around here, a huge part of what made this email so successful is its subsequent heyday on social. Takeaway number six think outside the inbox, adding in an SMS campaign or Facebook post, push notifications, insta-reals there is no end to the channels that we can show up on. This can feel really overwhelming, but it also can be an awesome opportunity to continue the work you started with email, especially if you get team members on board to help promote and take it beyond email. This can be a great tactic to further engagement on any email you send. By the way, sneak peek, episode number eight, is another great email-turned-viral of social sensation. Stay tuned. And last but not least, those sentiment rating systems. Have you seen them? Do you know what we were talking about? You’ll see them at the bottom of email little icons that have you rate the email good, bad, mediocre, thumbs up, smiley faces. The idea behind them is that it’s a lot easier for people to just hit a button than to hit reply. It also feels more anonymous for people and it’s a great way to get engagement when there’s nothing else to click. Also more subtly, but equally important, it shows your readers that you care about them receiving value. It shows that you’re sending emails with intention and accuse them that you listen to their opinion. I love the idea of furthering the feedback gathering with a link to a survey where they can expound on what they did or didn’t like. It’s such a simple way to get really great qualitative feedback. Just one tiny thing to be aware of with sentiment ratings, you’ll probably get a lot of negative and a lot of positive and very little neutral. Even with something as simple as a cliff, typically people don’t react unless they really like it or really don’t like it. There are some brands that put them on every email, usually the more newsletter style brands that don’t really have engagement links, but it’s also a great idea to include them on just a few specific campaigns that you need more of a gauge on people’s opinion. Alright, that’s it for today. Go, take action on one of our takeaways and let me know which one and how you did it. Thanks for geeking out with me about that email story. If you enjoyed either of these episodes, you’ll probably enjoy getting my emails Plus. You’ll never miss another episode. Sign up at nickyalbustcom, slash subscribe and, yes, that link is in the show notes. Up next, on email swipes.

Speaker 2: 

Our third response was from one of the wealthiest individuals in the universe who built a tremendous company. He reached out saying hey guys really love what you guys are doing. If you ever wanted to get some advice, please reach out, and we’ve had calls with him ever since.

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