Email Marketing: Solving WIIFM

Posted by Scott Cohen On January 19, 2011 in story time I 0 Comments

At the end of the day, there is one question you will receive (and must answer) from your subscribers:

“What’s in it for me?”

How you answer this question in each and every email message you send will determine how successful your email marketing program will be.

Why is it important to answer this questions? Because that’s what your subscribers will be asking themsleves when they see your message pop up in their inbox (hopefully).

Ultimately, the question is about value. What kind of value are your subscribers receiving from your messages? How you establish value really boils down to the basics: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

1. Who

Who are you? Establishing a consistent voice in your messaging is important, even for big brands. It’s human nature to trust the people we know as opposed to the people we don’t. As a sender, you want to become known as a trusted resource. So let your subscribers know who they should be expecting messages from and stick to those expectations.

2. What

Be clear about what you want your subscribers to learn or do as a result of your message. If you have one call to action, make sure it’s not buried within copy. Make it easy on your subscribers to perform your desired actions.

3. When

If your message is time-sensitive, let your subscribers know what the deadlines are. And most importantly, be honest about and hold true to those deadlines. There is nothing worse than receiving a “TODAY ONLY SALE” message one day, acting on it, then receving the same message the following day.

(If you did that, you would have—as Ricky would say to Lucy—some ‘splainin’ to do.)

4. Where

This ties into the previous two basics for obvious reasons. The call to action asks your subscriber to do something. You can tell them when they can perform that CTA. You need to also tell them where they can perform the desired action: your website, coming into the store, or finding you on Facebook. These are a few examples.

5. Why

Ah, the true question behind it all. “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM) is essentially another way of asking “Why should I care?” This is where you get to put on your sales hat and begin selling. What are some ways you can “sell” your subscribers?

  • Exclusivity. Perhaps it’s special access to a sale, or being the first to know about a new product.
  • Status. If what you’re selling is appealing, particularly to those who seek status, then that can be a critical part of your messaging strategy.
  • Filling a Need. Perhaps the most obvious answer. Sometimes, people just need what you’re selling. (And sometimes they don’t know that.) It could be Christmas gifts. Or maybe their favorite jeans just tore and they need a replacement pair. Timing can be everything.

The important thing to remember is that email is about relevance and relationships. If you can continually answer the WIIFM question, then you’ll find your relevance. If you can consistently bring relevance to the inbox, you can establish a relationship. With a relationship, you may find your subscribers regularly anticipate your next message. (And wouldn’t that be awesome?)

So, before you hit send, ask yourself this: “If I were receving this message, what’s in it for me?” If you can answer that from a consumer’s perspective, great. If not, start over.

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