5 email tips to stop your messages from being ignored, according to experts who work with Facebook and Nestle

Lee Lazarus and Janine Kurnoff are founders of The Presentation Company.
Lee Lazarus and Janine Kurnoff are founders of The Presentation Company.

  • Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus are founders of The Presentation Company which teaches business storytelling to big brands.
  • The sister duo says storytelling is key to sending great emails and ensuring you get a favorable response.
  • They say to use the email subject line as your story’s headline, and to offer context before making a request.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Inboxes are overwhelming, particularly for busy managers, key stakeholders, and VIP executives that everyone wants a response from. Most of us are bombarded with dozens of emails each day, if not more, and can’t afford more than a few seconds to glance over each one before moving on. So if you want to cut through the noise to reach decision-makers and move business forward, focus on structuring every email (and we mean every email) with a story strategy.

Adopting good email strategy – the kind that gets a response – is often the result of years of experience. To save you some time, we’re sharing our five top email strategies, purely based on classic story structure. 

1. Find the right balance between brief and meaningful

Before diving into your email storytelling strategy, we want to dispel a very common myth – that emails must be super-short to get answered. This isn’t true. When emails are too brief – perhaps just requesting some immediate action – they will often be ignored because they actually “get to the point” too quickly. They lack the context that gives recipients a deeper understanding of why you’re reaching out and what you need from them.

Additional information can actually enable the reader to make a decision more quickly. If they’re confused, or your ask seems complicated, they’re more likely to put off the answer you’re looking for. Still, being overly wordy is also a sure way to get your email ignored.

Make sure you find the right balance between brevity and key details in your emails. The reader should always be left with a clear idea of what they need to know and do with your information – and why. 

Data suggests the ideal length of an email is between 50 and 125 words. Emails this length had a response rate above 50%. 

2. Always have a headline and put it in your subject line 

Good emails should tell a story. Good stories have a headline. Ergo, your email needs a headline! And where should said headline reside? Right up top of course, in the subject line. 

Unfortunately, it’s very common for people to squander this opportunity for an attention-grabbing headline and instead use boring subject lines such as “Meeting follow up” or “Project update.” These generic tags tell your recipient very little and probably won’t grab their attention. 

Maximize the prime real estate of your subject line instead and introduce the big idea of your email story. Your big idea is the key information – the ‘what’ of your story – that you want your recipients to remember the most. So, instead of “meeting follow up,” you could say “Reconnecting on next steps for sales kickoff next month.” Instead of “Project update,” you could say, “Project X is on target but needs additional design resources.”

Focus on your single biggest, most consequential, or most insightful piece of information. Put this headline in the subject line to give your email the best chance of being opened.

3. Your email opener must provide context

As we mentioned above, jumping too soon into your ask without providing context will leave your reader confused. Context is key so they can process your information (or request).

In storytelling terms, context is the combination of setting, characters, and conflict that build the arc of a story. For example, if the email is a follow up to a budget meeting from last week, the setting must take the reader back to the “scene” of last week’s financial discussion, the important “characters” affected by budget decisions, and the chief conflicts affecting those characters. 

This look back is critical to remind them who and what’s at stake, and what decisions must be made. 

4. Repeat your big idea

Being overly repetitive is the death knell for any email, however, restating your single big idea is the power move of any great storyteller. When you remind readers of your key takeaway – the ‘what’ of your email story – you cement it in their brains. 

The best way to get in that one-two punch is to establish your big idea first in your headline (i.e. your subject line), then repeat it after you’ve established your context.

5. Always unveil your resolution last

One of the hallmarks of a poorly structured email is when it begins with your recommendations or your call to action without any context. As we mentioned above, many people believe that keeping an email as short as possible is best. So, they just state upfront what they need from the recipient: “Please approve this budget,” or “Can I get your feedback?” or “Need approval for a new hire.”

These requests are all part of their resolution, the answer to a certain conflict. If the resolution comes before the conflict, the recipient is less likely to buy into why they should complete your request. So instead, have this element last in your email.

Janine Kurnoff and Lee Lazarus are authors of the new book “Everyday Business Storytelling: Create, Simplify, and Adapt a Visual Narrative for Any Audience.” These Silicon Valley-bred sisters founded The Presentation Company in 2001 and work with brands like Facebook, Nestle, and Medtronic. Follow them on Twitter. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The cofounder of clothing brand Faherty says the company had its best year yet thanks to a diversified supply chain and the art of storytelling

Alex Faherty
Alex Faherty

In 2020, clothing brand Faherty had a standout year, according to its twin cofounders Alex and Mike Faherty. 

Alex credits one thing that helped keep his company afloat during this time: having a diversified business model and supply chain. 

When the company first launched in 2013, the founders made it a priority to have a diverse business, which saw the brand sold in retailers throughout the United States. Its supply chain stretches from South American to Asia, and the company has stores in various geographic locations, such as the Soho neighborhood in Manhattan and Martha’s Vineyard. 

The eight-year-old brand’s women’s clothing business is up about 100% year-over-year, and its annual compounded growth for the company these past four years has been 64% according to documents viewed by Insider. The men’s side of the business isn’t doing too bad, either – it counts actors Neil Patrick Harris and Matthew McConaughey, in addition to country star Thomas Rhett Atkins, as fans.

The brand is sold in over 250 stores throughout the world and currently has 16 locations of its own. It’s planning to open another 15 this year, and most recently launched in the new markets including West Palm Beach, Rosemary Beach, San Jose, and on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA.

In an interview with Insider, Alex talks about how a diversified business model and supply chain worked for his company during the virus.

Alex and Mike
Alex and his twin brother Mike

Alex made it a priority early on to build a business model that didn’t depend on one channel for revenue 

Early on, Alex said, he focused on diversifying the company’s business model, so that it did not depend too much on revenue from one medium. 

The company started off by establishing an online presence, then built a mobile beach house that traveled throughout the country. In 2014, the company expanded into wholesale by launching into retailers such as Nordstrom and Barney’s New York. By 2020, the brand was sold in 250 retailers throughout the world.

Alex said the company made sure to carefully select locations that varied geographically and in population size, to both sell and manufacture Faherty clothes. It was this diversified supply chain that helped the company survive the pandemic, he continued. 

faherty
A model wearing the Sunwaves Sherpa

The company’s supply chain spans Europe, South America, North America, and Asia. When Asia saw the first shockwave of the coronavirus in early 2020, the company was able to lean on its European, South, and North American channels. 

When the Asian markets opened back up, the company was able to shift back to its manufacturing over there, as its supply chain was taking a hit in the European and American markets in mid-March. 

Even domestically, Alex said, the team was keeping a close eye on migration patterns. 

For example, when physical retailers began to close last year, the company shifted to e-commerce. As people fled New York City, their Soho store emptied out but their locations in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard saw an increase in sales. 

“It’s been a challenging keeping up with the calendars, keeping up with the factories,” Alex said, giving the same advice another small business told Insider about how it was able to whether the pandemic:  “It’s about being nimble and flexible, and having a diversified supply chain.” 

Faherty has been rapidly expanding into the digital marketplace 

Despite the fact Alex prepared for a diversified physical business model, he said the company is still playing a bit of catch-up when it comes to the digital market pace. “Fortunately, e-commerce really accelerated for us,” he said. “So once the shut down happened, we were able to scale our customer acquisition and introduce ourselves to a lot of new people.” 

Alex’s wife, Kerry, who is in charge of social media, is helping the company expand its presence on the digital marketplace. “I’m always thinking about how we are showing up as a brand in the world, and that means both in the physical space, the tactile space, and the digital space,” she told Insider. “When people think about Faherty, we want them to feel a sense of warmth, trust, and inclusion, and we will keep making strides to do that across all avenues.”

The company currently has over 100,000 followers on Instagram and doesn’t use any Instagram influencers. Instead, the company depends on organic interactions with customers, some of whom become unofficial brand ambassadors. Alex said the team started to increase the amount of content it was producing and went on a hiring spree during the pandemic to bring on content copywriters on the marketing side to further develop the storytelling of the brand. 

Before the pandemic, the company used to host live concerts and events, and it took that virtually, hosting “sun sessions” on Instagram which highlights different artists such as musicians and chefs each week. The company has also partnered with a few podcasts to help expand its reach.

Its expansion into the digital marketplace is only set to continue, even as vaccinations continue. 

“At the same time, you know, we have some retail stores right now that are performing incredibly well,” Alex said, adding that the pandemic’s impact on real estate provides them with an opportunity to open more stores throughout the US. 

“In the right areas, where people are still safe, they’re still shopping in physical retail,” he continued.  “We’re looking at lots of different opportunities in the next couple of years to really grow our retail cards as well. And take advantage of an attractive real estate market.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to Effectively Engage Your Audience Through Email Marketing

Gone are the days of Spray and Pray email marketing. You cannot do those once customary ‘Email blasts’ to every subscriber on your contact list. The email marketing landscape has changed rapidly, thanks to the ever-increasing demand for personalized messaging. Striving for higher subscriber engagement is the primary reason behind this transition. However, things are not as simple as they seem to be since subscriber engagement is about sending the right message to the right message person at the right time.

As per a recent report by Campaign Monitor, “Increasing customer engagement rates was the most important goal for 58% of marketers and the most significant barrier for 44% of marketers.” These numbers show how much customer engagement means to email marketers and how crucial it is to enhance it.

Hence, I have compiled a few of the most effective tactics that you can pursue to take your subscriber engagement rate through the roof.

Dynamic and storytelling content

‘Content is king,’ and content hasn’t earned that title just like that. For any communication, be it personal or professional, communication is the soul, which stands true for email marketing. Weaving storytelling content in your emails would immediately elevate their online experience. They would be hooked from the get-go. However, it is some extra effort to sync your storytelling and branding together, but it is subscriber engagement you are aiming for, so you go to give it everything.

You can feature value-added content in your storytelling, such as news, tips, customer success stories, tips, and much more. As per a Forbes report, “millennials no longer become engaged through pure ads.”

When you strike the right chord with the subscribers, your engaging content will start impacting the sales as well. Connecting with people at a personal level leaves a profound impact on their buying behavior, and if executed right, it can do wonders for your brand.

If you are also looking to enhance your email campaign’s engagement appeal, then look no further than Mailchimp email experts or Marketo certified experts. They are the best in the business of taking your email marketing endeavors to the next level.

Impactful subject lines

On average, 121 emails are being received in every inbox each day. That’s a lot of emails, irrespective of whether they are personal, professional, and promotional. Now, in this sea of emails, the subject line is the deciding factor if your emails would be opened or will be another forgotten message that was never read in the first place.

It’s imperative to create subject lines that make a substantial impact on the readers. They will appeal to them and boost your engagement rates. A well-crafted subject line is short, tempting, and descriptive. You can go for different tonalities such as personal, informational, how-to, etc. Inserting emojis in subject lines is clever since they promise higher CTRs.

Here is a good example of how a precise subject line can set the right premise for your email. The subject line for Postable’s email says, “Refer your friends and get $$$.” The messaging is to the point clear, and hence, the recipient knows exactly what to expect once they open the mail.

Source: Really Good Emails

Personalized emails

A Campaign Monitor report found that “improving email personalization was the number one goal for 38% of marketers and was also the number one challenge for 36% of marketers.” To achieve personalization in your email marketing campaign, you can practice marketing automation, email list segmentation, and even third-party integrations.

Striking that chord with the recipients is easier if the content you serve them is relevant to them and as per their interests. Personalization doesn’t stop at just adding their name in the subject line. Instead, you can engage with them in even more ways, such as writing first-person emails and more. The plan is to give them a feeling that you understand your email subscribers and value them.

The following email template example depicts the point I am trying to make. When a subscriber sees the recipient’s name at the outset, they will trust you more, which would lead to much higher engagement. This email sounds more like a well-thought letter than a robotic email that you and I already receive truckloads of on a daily basis. Hence, a personalized email is a perfect start to have a loyal and engaging subscriber base.

Source: Really Good Emails

Segmentation of your email lists

Personalization gets you higher subscriber engagement, and nothing comes closer to personalization than segmenting your target lists. As email marketers, we create so much content that we sometimes forget diversity amongst our respective user bases. Information that’s relevant to one subscriber might be redundant for another. A great way to serve both of them is by segmenting your email list and creating specific personalized content based on that.

For example, if you experience low usage rates, then sending out re-engagement emails to engage inactive customers would be the best thing. For a more consistent customer, you can update him about the upcoming deals and offers.

The big takeaway here? In the end, customer engagement is decisive to customer acquisition and eventual customer retention. However, before trying to engage with them, it’s better to understand them first. It’s indispensable to have an understanding of who your customers are, what they prefer, or what’s the best way to connect with them.

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The post How to Effectively Engage Your Audience Through Email Marketing appeared first on Social Media Week.