Learn The Rules… So You Can Break Them!

We have all heard the phrase, “rules are meant to be broken,” right? Well, in some cases, rules really are meant to be broken. In the previous two newsletters, we gave you some rules that are generally applied to email marketing. But, are there any exceptions to those rules? When is it a good idea to follow your own instincts? As a client, it is extremely important t you know what you want for your website, email marketing campaign, or newsletter. Remember, a service provider is there to bring your ideas to life and give you sound advice on how to proceed. If you know what you want, you are more likely to get it!

Here are some familiar names that are doing email marketing by their own set of rules.

Costco, we have all heard of this company, right? Well, Costco has bypassed the all important rule that says you do not want to saturate your preview pane with too much information. Instead, Costco offers quite a bit of detailed information in this area. Why does this work for Costco? Maybe because we all recognize this brand and the services offered. Many of us will take the extra step, click on a link, and scroll up to the next column to see what Costco has to offer.

Who else is blazing their own trail? Nordstrom is following a different set of rules when it has to do with subject lines. Subject lines typically contain 35- 45 characters. However, the subject line for Nordstrom’s email marketing reads, “GET FREE Shipping with Any Shoe Purchase.” This immediately sets up the viewer for an offer for free shipping, but instead “sets up the subscriber for the sight of great shoes.” While the content and intent of the email is not exactly clear, the shorter subject line and enticing header is something that gets a reaction from people.

How about Pandora? According to best practices, “Pandora’s copy is long, and the message is not direct (it doesn’t steer subscribers back to the website). Because Pandora is a free service that does not need to upsell to already-engaged subscribers, the company uses its welcome message to highlight its human face and to introduce its accessible customer service.” In other words, Pandora does not need to re-sell services to those already receiving their email marketing. Instead, Pandora reinforces the importance of customer service human interaction.

Lastly, we take a look at Backcountry. This company basically spoofs itself and the whole idea of “call to action” by being irreverent, “light it up.” Yes, normally any call to action would be highlighted and right at the top, where the subscriber can clearly see what is being asked of him or her. However, there are times when a more lighthearted approach does the trick. Backcountry is the perfect example of this approach.

So, what does all of this mean to you and your business? It means not every rule will apply to you or to the type of business you are promoting. How you promote your business depends greatly on the audience you are trying to reach, the services you are providing, and branding. The best way to conduct any email marketing campaign is to discuss your goals with a savvy email marketing provider. A good provider will not only listen – they will also offer you sound advice on how to reach your target audience.

*Did You Know – email ad spending will increase to $677 million in 2011, from $492 million in 2008?

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