Email Marketing for a Journalist

I recently attended SoCon, a social media and social networking conference at Kennesaw State University, which is just north of Atlanta, Georgia. In the event’s opening panel discussion, one of the participants made a comment that set the tone for how email would be covered for the rest of the event – it was ignored. Here’s what panel participant Victor Hernandez, title of CNN, had to say:

“I hope that social media will forge a way to lessen people’s anchor to their inbox.”

To put that comment in context, he thinks people will soon rely less on email and more on other channels to get their news. Is this foreshadowing for the end of email? Not necessarily, since according to this blog post from the DMA, email’s growth rate was greater than that of Facebook and Twitter in 2010. But to Hernandez’s point that there are multiple news sources consumers can use to get information and email is just one of them.

Since we’re in the email business, let’s talk about how we can apply the rules of Journalism to email marketing:

Know your audience: What are they expecting to hear from you? Stick to the promise made on your sign-up form in terms of frequency of communication and the content of the messages.

Don’t bury the lead: Just as a news story opens with the main point, an email should quickly make its purpose known. Don’t bury your call to action in the fine print.

A newspaper’s headline is akin to an email’s subject line: The same way a headline tells what’s to be expected of the story below, a subject line should do the same for an email’s contents. In just a few words, address what’s to be expected of the message being shared.

Tailor your writing for the medium: A TV reporter doesn’t write the copy for their story the same way a newspaper reporter would write theirs. Modify your content for the parameters of an email message. Not sure how to do that? Less is usually more.

(A disclaimer – all of these points could be expanded into blog/newsletter posts as individual topics, which may happen in the future.)

But, to go back to Hernandez’s comment, if people are relying less on their inbox as a source of information, how can you get the most out of your email program? We’re vested in our email program and want to get the most of this channel.

Improve relevancy: This chart shows some tactics to improve relevancy and the percentage of companies that responded to the survey who use them.

Think of email as the hub of your communications efforts: Use Twitter, Facebook and SEO in conjunction with your email campaigns. Toss out the idea that the channels are silos.

Your mailing list has (presumably) volunteered to receive email from you. Make the most of this consent by keeping these points in mind and your email program should continue to flourish. Feel free to comment on this post or send me an email if you want to add to or continue this dialogue.

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