Your email marketing: bacn or ham?

| April 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

Email marketing: Everyone’s heard of spam. But what about bacn?

Widely slammed as the new scourge of our inboxes, bacn isn’t spam. But it isn’t personal email either. It hovers uncomfortably between useless and useful in a dreary email marketing no-man’s land. You don’t really like it. But you don’t hate it either. It’s the marketing equivalent of magnolia paint: acceptable, neutral, dull.

You might have signed up for email updates on a whim, or through force of habit. But unless the messages are useful, relevant, interesting and all that good stuff, they don’t resonate.

It’s all very well creating worthy email marketing content. But you need to step up your game if you want to avoid generating bacn.

How do I avoid creating bacn?

Wouldn’t it be lovely if people fainted with pleasure when reading our news and spent the rest of their lives unable to eat or sleep with the sheer excitement of it all?

In reality most people never get further than the subject line. They’re too busy, too preoccupied, not in the mood, having a bad hair day, at the wrong end of the buying cycle for a multitude of reasons from the sublime to the ridiculous. All of which makes creating email marketing messages that deliver real value, pleasure and usefulness pretty damn tricky.

Luckily there are a few things you can do to minimise the risk of creating bacn.

Getting your subject line right isn’t enough

While a compelling subject line encourages people to open the package, it can’t help you if there’s a bacn buttie inside. Imagine the disappointment when you open an exciting-sounding email only to find it’s about as thrilling as watching grass grow.

Looking the part

Most of us can look at the content of emails from our inbox without having to actually open the messages. If it looks boring it doesn’t matter how shockingly brilliant your subject line is – they’ll hover and delete. Your looks are as important as your content in this context – include fab images, use colour to its best effect and create a template that’s just as easy to find your way around as it is good looking.

Relevant or off-piste?

You could stick to being strictly relevant, narrowing your content down ’til it squeaks in an effort to target people’s interests and needs head on with all guns blazing. Or widen your reach and talk about interesting off-piste subjects to pique and hold your audience’s attention. Or do a bit of both.

Being extraordinary

Whether it’s off-piste or bang on target make your emails worth the bother: powerful and definite not limp, bland and middle-of-the-road. I know everyone’s banging on about it but you need to be extraordinary. It’s usually easier said than done, but within the realms of possibility.

Setting the right tone of voice

Drone, drone, drone…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Make everything you write a pleasure to read and it’s less likely you’ll end up with bacn. Err towards a professional tone of voice if you need to, or take a lighter tone if you’re selling less serious stuff.  But make your voice recognisable and consistent, warm and attractive, and you’ll weave the right kind of spell.

Analysing customer data

You can use customer data to tailor email marketing messages according to what people have bought, when and how, observing and analysing their buying behaviour.

Imagine someone has just bought a small blue thing. Would they like to know about the big red thing you’ve just got in stock? It helps to apply logic like this and if marketers’ faith in targeting has any real welly behind it, customer data analysis should help you achieve bacn-free email marketing.

Avoiding hard sells

Do you enjoy being bombarded by hard sells? Probably not. Nor do most of us. Go light on the selling, heavy on the interesting, informing, entertaining and inspiring.

Only contacting people when there’s something to say

There’s nothing worse than sending a marketing message just because it’s on your schedule. If you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, don’t say anything. Less is more. Never ‘do’ marketing just for the sake of it.

Providing opt outs in every communication

It’s best marketing practice to give people the chance to opt out every time you contact them, not just at the start of your relationship. Opt out stats are also handy for analysis. If one particular message makes people opt out in droves, take a long, hard look at it and see if you can figure out why they disliked it so much. And don’t make the same mistake again!

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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