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Paul Rijnders

Earning an Email Marketing Gold Star: Worth It?

Apr 13 2011, 01:11 PM by

Sometimes a Different Spin Gets My Attention
I’ll admit that because I’m actively engaged in email marketing on an almost daily basis, I probably subscribe to more email lists than I can comfortably read. This said, it certainly takes a lot to get my attention these days.
The Subject: Hooray for Newbies!
It’s been said over and over on this site that the subject line is what really gets you through the door with your subscribers. If a person is open to your email marketing, they’re probably on a few more email lists as well. When the time to read emails becomes limited, the subject line that really stands out is the winner. I couldn’t ignore this one this morning that stated, “You just unlocked the Newbie badge! Hooray!”
I Won the Game I Didn’t Know I Was Playing

Now I’m not willing to divulge whether it’s because I played Nintendo as a kid or Xbox as an adult but I can only be honest about what gets my attention. To a kid of the video game generation, we connect more with “unlock” and “newbie” than we do with “discover” or “half off.” And face it, nobody puts “Hooray!” in their emails, so this subject line stood out right from the start.

There are multiple lessons here for those looking for a new spin on subject lines:
It helps if you say something never said.
There are plenty of unused magic words left that can get attention.
You might identify with your subscribers in ways not related to the immediate business.
Foursquare Sends Me a Badge
So I recently signed up for a fun little app on my phone that apparently follows up with email alerts. This could have been a recipe for disaster. I probably overlooked the fact that I agreed to get these emails. And if the emails were these long, sales-oriented pitches, I’d have unsubscribed and deleted the app from my phone. But you know what? The email was fun, almost mindless, completely unnecessary, but much appreciated.

You foursquare veterans might counter that the whole point of foursquare is to earn badges, but is it really? It’s a way for people to share what they’re doing. This whole thing could have been as boring as, “This email is to confirm that you have successfully checked-in at your chosen destination.” Let me say something I would have said in my Nintendo days: Gag me with a spoon.
I Guess I Just Need a Little Positive Affirmation
So what was this “Newbie Badge” email all about? Not much. Take a look:

So I get these badges when I eat. Cool. I guess I’ll try to use the app more so that I can get these little bonuses in my email to up my self-esteem. On the surface, it appears to be a waste of an email, especially when the app already gave me my “badge” on the phone. But by sending this short email, a few key things were achieved:
The phone app experience became even more tangible.
The event’s impression lasted a bit longer.
The app got another chance at branding.
Do You Need to Badge Up Your Customers?
I don’t know, do you? What’s your business? Would a plumber send a “You’ve earned the unclogged drain” badge to a middle-aged lady? Probably not. But this isn’t about badges. It’s about sending the short email that follows up the customer event, even when there’s nothing to sell. It could be a basic thank you email. But whatever it is, make it as fun and simple as you can get away with. Remember, you’re just trying to give your transaction a little more leg to run a little longer in your customers' and subscribers' minds.

Posted in Tips & Resources

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