Are your emails getting read?
It’s harder than ever to get noticed in your audience’s inbox. Open rates and click-through rates are down across the board. It’s more critical than ever to make sure your email is optimized, and that means giving your audience what they want.
We have a formula that will help you do just that.
Vary Your Email Content
Recently, we had a client that was struggling with their content. People weren’t taking action — the client had good engagement and good visibility across their channels, but no one was doing anything with it.
“How much promotion are you doing?” we asked.
Turns out, not much. They weren’t using a critical part of their content mix.
Want to succeed? Vary the type of email content you send. It can be difficult to know what sort of content to send to your audience. That’s why we created PII™.
PII™: The Key to Your Content Marketing Mix
All marketing content, including email, can be divided into three categories: promotion, information and inspiration. We call this content framework PII™.
- Promotion: content designed to drive action. This isn’t just buying — this could be a click, signup, share, engagement, download … you name it. Your audience wants to act; you have to ask them. Examples include liking a social post and following the account, sharing content with a friend, downloading an eBook, referring someone or selling a service.
- Information: content that has value to your audience. This isn’t just sharing information about you or what you do — it must serve your audience’s needs. Examples would be a how-to on your product or a study that provides useful statistics and insights.
- Inspiration: content that uses emotion to build connections. Passion is the most powerful asset you have as a marketer; people usually act on emotion, not logic. Examples of this include quotes (other people’s or pieces of your own content, like a podcast clip), personal updates and motivational pieces.
Every asset you create is a mix of these three types of content.
Your Content Marketing “Set List”
There are two common mistakes we see businesses make with PII™:
- Way too much selling. Promotion is more than just getting people to buy, but this mistake usually means the business is solely focused on sending sales-based emails. Most of the people who make this mistake are marketers with a commodity sales background or sellers looking to capitalize on a “fad” market segment (Beanie Babies, NFTs, etc.).
- Way too little promotion. Some knowledge professionals fall into the “teacher trap,” just trying to convince their audience they know what they’re doing. Your audience wants to be engaged, not just informed. If your product or service is good, you’re actually doing your audience a disservice by not giving them a chance to take action.
You need a mix of all three elements that works for your business.
I’m a musician, so I think of my content mix like a set list for a concert. You usually don’t want to just do upbeat songs — your audience will get tired. But you don’t want to do a bunch of slow ballads and bore them, either. Your set list should have a good mix of different types of songs.
At the same time, your audience has a certain expectation from your content. If I’m going to a Metallica show, I expect a lot more heavy songs like “Enter Sandman” or “Whiskey in the Jar” than ballads like “Nothing Else Matters.” But if I go to a Celine Dion concert, I’m expecting a lot of slow ballads like “My Heart Will Go On.” A good show has a mix of songs that meet their audience’s expectations. Use common sense — you know what you’re good at, and you should have at least some idea of what your audience is looking for from you. Your content mix needs to match your brand.
You can’t just split your email content evenly between promotion, information and inspiration. They’re not proportional. Every industry has a different content mix — and within each industry, each business has its own optimal mix.
Because email is permission-based, this is even more critical for email than it is for other channels. Once you have your audience’s permission to market to them, you don’t automatically keep it. Start sending them too much of something they don’t want and you’ll see your open rates and click-through rates plummet. You might even start dealing with unsubscribes or getting marked as spam. Use the right proportion for your industry.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
- Retail: 40% promotion, 30% information, and 20% inspiration
- B2B: 20% promotion, 50% information, and 30% inspiration
- Consumer Services: 35% promotion, 25% information, and 40% inspiration
- Professional Services: 10% promotion, 60% information, and 30% inspiration
- Online Business: 40% promotion, 30% information, and 30% inspiration
These aren’t hard rules; they’ll vary from business to business. But these are a good starting point or rule of thumb. Use this to get your email marketing content off the ground, then start fine-tuning.
Finding the PII™ Mix that Works for You
How do you find the best ratio between promotion, information and inspiration for your emails? Test and measure.
Testing is the backbone of all good marketing. A good gut helps — there’s both art and science, or we’d probably be out of a job — but “what gets measured gets managed.” Here are a few ideas:
- Surveys are helpful for this. Periodically surveying your audience allows you to find out what they’re interested in. Ask which pieces of content they’re most interested in and how they’d prefer to be contacted.
- Research your industry — take a look at what your competitors are doing. Are you using a similar content mix in your email marketing? Should you be?
- A/B test your emails. Create two identical emails and then vary one thing between them — subject line, length or topic. Only use one variable at a time or you won’t have clarity on the result.
- Analyze your data for trends. I periodically pull all of our emails and put them in a spreadsheet with open and click-through rates, then segment them by type. Look at the types of content that get the most and the least engagement — if your inspiration is showing a downward trend, for example, maybe you should do a bit less of that and focus your energy into another type of content for your emails.
Your business and your audience are unique. Use these methods to find the mix that’s right for you.
Build A Great Email Marketing Mix
Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal. You need to optimize it — and having a content framework based on PII™ is the key to keeping your audience engaged and getting your email opened.
Use promotion, information and inspiration in the right balance to build your business. Need a hand? We regularly help businesses like yours with their content. Just drop us a line, anytime.
Rainmaker Digital Services