“Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity, whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity. For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom; the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water.” Friedrich Nietzsche
To connect to those who open and read your e-mails, avoid strategies that might obscure your intentions. Before you start your e-mail content, give careful consideration to how your readers might perceive your message.
Why are you sending them a message? What do you want them to do when they get it? Are you asking them to help you achieve your objectives?
Your prospects and customers need to know why you’re sending the e-mail and what you’re asking them to do. It helps them to know what your expectations are if the message is clear.
There are four major categories into which your e-mails will normally fall. They are:
- Offers — you want to sell them something
- Announcements — you want to tell them something
- Networking — you want to share information/you want them to share with others
- Processes — you want to provide them detail about your product or service
Offers will generally contain a call to action, and directions on how to take action.
An announcement will generally provide information to help your prospects or customers form an opinion, provide details of upcoming events, but seldom contain a call to action beyond reading the e-mail.
Newsletters, non-specific testimonies, and frequently asked questions fall under the general category of networking, with the call to action an invitation to share the information with friends and associates.
Processes are how things work. You want the reader to understand how to use or operate what they’ve purchases, or you’re explaining your policies on privacy, shipping, billing or other relevant information.
When you mix two or more of these categories in the same e-mail message, your primary intention in sending the e-mail can easily be lost and the reader confused. Aristotle said: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.” A truth? Yes. And…confusing?
You, too, can confuse your readers by mixing your categories together; leaving them confused about what action you want them to take; resulting in no action being taken.
When your primary purpose is to persuade your prospects or customers to take a specific action on an offer, such as making a particular “buy” decision, it’s important for your e-mail to have promotional content related to this particular decision only. If, for example, you really only want your customers to buy product “X”, of which you have excess inventory, and you include promotional material for product “Y” and “Z”, you may not get the objective you desired.
While it’s preferential to have just one category in any e-mail, you can mix more than one if you choose to do so, if you have just one main category. Then, group the balance of the other related categories together under the main category.
An example of this might be an e-mail advising of a change in your website address, combined with an offer of a 10% discount on their first purchase at the new website; or a purchase discount for providing feedback on the new look and feel, with a survey link and discount coupon attached.
The primary purpose of this e-mail is the announcement of the change. Tying it together with an offer specifically related to the new website allows you to reinforce the main purpose, which is to ensure the reader knows where your new home is located.
However, if you’re not going to change website locations for another six months, and the primary purpose of your e-mail was to make a major offer for a product launch, mixing these two messages would not be a good e-mail strategy.
When the customer can clearly see what’s in it (the e-mail message) for them, and what they need to do, if anything, both your objectives and theirs will be met.
Making everything obvious creates less confusion. Unless of course you’re Michael Stipe, 1960’s singer and songwriter, who said: “Sometimes I’m confused by what I think is really obvious. But what I think is really obvious obviously isn’t obvious.”