No one likes talking to a wall. And yet, that’s basically what happens when you send an email and don’t encourage people to talk back or continue the conversation elsewhere. You send the email and the conversation just ends there… in the inbox. That’s no good for anybody, because as so many businesses have learned, a more engaged customer is one who will buy more and refer you to other people.
With that in mind, why would you want to send an email that doesn’t begin a conversation or encourage sharing on social media?
Here are seven reasons why your emails are conversation-enders now, and how to change that:
1. They’re all about you.
One cardinal rule of email marketing is that it’s not about you. It’s about your subscriber, and how he or she can benefit from your messages. If you want your content to be talked about and shared, don’t just talk all about yourself, pushing information about the latest deals or available products. You have to answer the reader’s question:
What’s In It for Me?
Case in point: Remember LinkedIn’s recent email campaign, in which the social network alerted people that they were in the top 1%, 2%, 5%, or 10% of all profiles on the site? Legitimacy of those claims aside, the campaign was really a promotion for the fact that LinkedIn now has more than 200 million users. But because LinkedIn made the campaign more of an ego boost for its members and not about the impressive stat, the news was spread far and wide; more than 80,000 people tweeted about their ranking.
2. They’re not helpful.
Better than talking about the existence of a product is information about how people can use that product. Or, if you’re a service business, quick tips people can use. Why do people share this kind of information? Because then they can be seen as a resource for their friends. If you provide helpful, non-salesy advice that helps people do something better, then the chances increase that they will pass that information along to their own networks.
3. They’re not timely.
Remember the way Oreo capitalized on the power outage at the Super Bowl this year? That image was retweeted more than 15,000 times in the first 14 hours after it was posted.
You don’t have to newsjack in real time like that, but the more timely your email content is, and the more you’re taking advantage of what other people are already talking about (whether it’s a holiday, a significant event like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, or whatever else is a hot topic), the more likely it will be that your subscribers will inject your content into the conversation.
4. They’re not entertaining.
No one wants to watch or share boring content. Get people to laugh or smile and people will often respond with a rave. Better yet, you’ll see your content spread more easily — just like after something particularly buzzworthy is aired on Saturday Night Live or one of the late-night talk shows.
5. You don’t ask questions.
In each message you send, you should ask a question related to the issue’s theme, or some other topic people will be interested in, and encourage your readers to share their responses on Twitter and/or your Facebook Page.
Not only will that create more of a bridge between your email and social channels, it’ll remind people that there are other ways to hear from you and show you’re interested in a two-way dialogue, not just pushing information. Equally important, it’ll provide you with user-generated content that you can use in your next email. Which brings us to …
6. You don’t involve your readers.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an email newsletter, a blog post, a video, a newspaper article, or some other kind of content: People get excited when they see their photo or hear their name used. GetResponse recently asked blog readers to submit questions that Community Director Jim Ducharme would ask at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Las Vegas. Then, each time he asked an expert a question in a video, he mentioned the person who had submitted it.
You can do something similar in your email without going big with videos. Include a tweet (or some other social post) of the week. That’ll increase the dialogue on social media, get people more interested in what you’re sending via email, and increase the likelihood of people sharing the email because they’re included.
7. You don’t tell your readers to share.
It’s often as simple as this: Sometimes, people need to be told what to do. Always include a message in your email campaign that says something like “Please share this” (with the appropriate buttons to do so). Tell them to share, and your readers often will do just that.
The bottom line
If the goal is to get people talking and sharing your email content, then you need to give them the incentive and the tools to do so. Be helpful, entertaining, and inquisitive, and you’ll be on the right step to creating a conversation with your customers that doesn’t end as soon as they click Open.
What is YOUR strategy for getting people to talk about and share your email content? How well has it worked? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.