Which Email Style Suits Your Business Best?

In a recent blog post for MarketingProfs.com, Stephanie Miller, an email marketing expert, describes how Scotts Miracle-Gro uses its newsletter to generate sales. The email is targeted by grass type and zip code, information captured at registration, and is sent monthly during the growing season. It also stops entirely during the off-season which can last as long as six months in some areas.

The information the newsletter contains is entirely didactic. It doesn’t push special offers. It doesn’t announce bargains. It doesn’t even have a call-to-action, hardly a surprise when you consider that the firm has no online sales channel. It simply informs and teachers customers about growing grass.

And yet, says Miller, the newsletter is responsible for boosting sales by annual average of 150 percent.

Educated Readers Unsubscribe But Buy
It’s an impressive strategy, but not one that’s going to work for every kind of business. Maintaining a lawn is apparently a more complex affair than it sounds. Scotts then, needs educated customers, people who understand that they need their products. The aim of the newsletter isn’t to sell — although it does that — but to raise the knowledge of customers to a level high for them to understand that they need to buy. (Ironically, once they have that knowledge, they then tend to unsubscribe).

For most email marketers, the aim of a newsletter is going to be much more straightforward. For retailers, it could be as simple as delivering information about a number of products, including bargains, and driving people to buy immediately. Ideally, that message should also come with a sweetener that delivers information of value and interest to readers. MooShoes, for example, a vegetarian shoe store in New York, goes heavy with announcements of new products and ends with a discount code, but mixes the information into related event news. Readers can feel that they’re getting a free listings email describing lectures and talks that they might find interesting, even if it is one that comes with plenty of advertising.

That’s a fairly simple model for any retailer to follow. A bookstore, for example, might include a few lines about an author reading alongside announcements of new releases. A hotel could describe renovations to a local tourist site next to its special weekend offer.

Personal Email Marketing
Other businesses though, particularly those associated with a personal brand, may have a less commercial and a more individual feel. They might look like an email from a friend rather than an emailed flyer. Often, they’ll have no graphics and no design. They’ll use the first person, describe the writer’s thoughts and feelings, maybe throw in the odd personal anecdote. But they’ll still carry an offer and a call to action.

Each of those approaches can work, but they’ll work differently for different businesses. Before you plan your email marketing messages then, it’s vital to understand your own business and, most importantly, the nature of your relationship to your subscribers and customers. You need to know whether your newsletter should be giving them information they’d find interesting, a letter from a friend or even an education about keeping the grass growing.