i’m sorry to be the one to break it to you… but no one is reading your emails! if you’re not being deliberate about your content, and if you’re not using analytics to inform your content strategy, it’s just not happening!

when done right, however, email is one of the most powerful – and underutilized – tools for growing your business and building your brand. did you know, for example, that email conversion rates are 40 times those of facebook and twitter? 40 times! that makes email one of the best ways to connect with your customer, remind them of your value and drive conversions. so, let’s talk about how you can optimize your email efforts and make email work harder for your brand and your business.

first things first, email is both art and science:

  1. the art part is content and the key is that content is king, but only if you craft it with your goal in mind
  2. the science part is analytics and the key here is that if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it

on the art of content:

like with any other channel, having a solid content plan is the key to success in email marketing. step one, ladies and gentlemen: decide on your goals and build an editorial calendar with a content mix that speaks to those goals.

here are three goals i’d suggest using to shape your content mix: 1. build a connection with your brand, 2. deepen engagement around that connection and 3. drive acquisition. you’ll want a mix of these but it’s up to you to decide how much you’ll weigh each of these types of content. the important part is to always craft your email content with the goal in mind.

  • build the brand. this content is designed to tell the story of your product. it’s great to tie this kind of content to timely, seasonal topics and very important to tie the key message of the email back to your brand and your value proposition. remember your goal: get your customer to read and connect with it!
  • grow the community. this content is designed to generate action around the connection with your brand. that can mean asking them to share something, engage with you on social media, watch a video, and so on. when you want customers to engage with you in some way keep in mind that facts, tips, giveaways and questions are a great way to prompt engagement. remember when drafting these emails – in both content and design – your goal is for them to share it!
  • drive acquisition. this content is designed to drive customers to purchase your product. here it’s important to give them a clear action. but only one! the more you give a reader to do the less likely it is they’ll do it. and remember your goal here: buy it!

on the science of analytics:

with the resources available today, analytics should be an important part of your strategy. if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it, and if you cannot manage it you cannot improve it. the key is to test different elements of your email, measure and adjust your content accordingly. let the data (and not your assumptions about your customer!) inform your decisions.

here are some examples of elements you can test: subject lines, tone, design and layout, use of social media, the action or “ask” of the email, and personalized content for different segments of your list.

and depending on what you’re testing you’ll want to look at: opens, clicks, conversions (whether than means buying a product or engaging with you on facebook) and related engagement on other channels.

in conclusion:

remember that effective email marketing is equal parts art and science:

  1. the art part is content and the key is that content is king, but only if you craft it with your goal in mind
  2. the science part is analytics and the key here is that if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it

this post originally appeared over at the TSBC collective. more here!


meet harry. harry’s is a very cool shaving company that breaks from the traditional model and brings you a “great shave at a fair price.” it’s a brand i really like: the main man in my life loves the product, they have a really clean design, they have a very consistent brand voice, and i love their website.

what i really wanted to share was their magazine, five o' clock, and talk a little bit about brands creating editorial content. harry's says the magazine is about “undiscovered moments, advice, and generally useful information for a well-lived life.” generally, i think the voice of the content works, it’s thoughtful content for the modern guy, and it’s on brand. i also give them credit for not throwing up random images and text: they have real photographers, illustrators, editors, etc. they’re doing a lot right but I think there are some small things they could do better that would make a big difference.

  1. focus your content. it’s too broad! narrow the content so your customer knows what he’s coming to the site for. also, “making today better than yesterday” doesn’t really mean anything.
  2. always tie it back to the product. if the post can’t be tied to shaving, grooming, getting ready habits, then it doesn’t work. there’s a post on apologizing, you guys. it’s too random.
  3. brand it. they have great posts about men they admire and their morning routines. this is great content! but there’s a missed opportunity here. they should be telling us what harry’s products these guys use, how often they shave, their favorite products to use alongside harry’s, and so on. the line between effective branded content and annoying product placement is thin, but it can be done. and when it’s done right, your content will work harder for your brand and your customer will get more out of your content.