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Yes, email has been around since the dawn of digital marketing; and smart marketers know that whilst perhaps not as sexy as its new social media cousins, email is still one of the most effective methods of communication for the integrated, digital marketer.

In the recent EMSA conference hosted by Vision6, hundreds of Brisbane marketers dedicated an entire day sharing in the experiences from global and local experts on email marketing.  It was the keynote from The New Yorker’s Dan Oshinsky that whet the appetite for a day of fantastic insights.  As Dan pointed out, when people agree to receive emails from you it is as if they have invited you into their living room.  So treat this opportunity with respect and don’t abuse the privilege, because trust is hard to win and very easy to lose. 

So how do you keep people engaged in your emails and newsletters once you’ve gained their trust? 

According to Dan, there are three simple principles that effective email newsletters adhere to.  (Given that Dan is now in charge of The New Yorker’s global newsletters program, and previously when Director of Newsletters for BuzzFeed drove 250 million referrals to BuzzFeed.com from newsletters, reaching an audience of more than 1 million active subscribers every week, we reckon Dan knows what he is talking about.)

  1. Identity: This is the content that speaks to you, the individual.  Who are you, what do you love, what do you care about?
  2. Service: This is the content that helps you in life.  It is the ideas or the tips to make life, work, study easier.
  3. Utility: And this is the content that gives you the fundamentals for getting by in the world every day.  Perhaps its the weather forecast or transit updates.

Good emails will make sure to have at least one of these things covered in their content.

Whilst Dan’s three principles above were my biggest takeaways, he had some other great reminders for us digital marketers:

Dan Oshinsky keynote at EMSA 2017It’s ok to be wrong!  As practitioners, managers, owners and clients we need to remember that getting great results sometimes means trialling and testing different concepts and combinations before getting it right.  Make it ok for you or your team to test and try new things in the quest for email greatness.

Learn from your data.  Make use of the data analytics available to you.  I mean that’s what it’s there for.  Take notice of the results of different send times, headlines, links, images and more.  Where do you get your best readership from? At what time of day? For what type of content?  Learn from the data.

Write good (and short) subject lines.  Please?!?!!!!!

Tell a great story, every time.  You can even be fun (if it suits your brand that is)

Create habits and routines so that readers know what to expect, and when.  After all, we are mostly creatures of habit so make things easy for us please.

Deliver great emails EVERY time.

Thanks @DanOshinsky and Vision6 for a great day (even if I did have to run between two parallel events).

About Amy Ward

Amy Ward is a strategic communications and management consultant. She is the founder and director of OTM, a successful management consultancy, specialising in strategy, commercialisation, communications, change and marketing. Her professional experience spans commercial organisations, government and not for profits. For close to twenty years she has worked with complex B2B and innovative B2C programs and services across diverse industries such as information technology, eHealth, primary health and community care, telecommunications, mining and resources, management consulting, process control, integrated transport, geospatial, sustainability, retail (online) and more. Amy is generous in volunteering her expertise as a mentor and as an advisor. In addition to her day job at OTM she is a board director for Communify, an advisor for the Inclusive Brisbane Board, Professional Advice Alliance and a mentor for the Queensland Government’s Mentoring 4 Growth program.

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