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How to Balance Promotional vs. Value-Add Email Content

March 9, 2021
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Balance is important in both life and your audiences’ inboxes. The type of value you deliver with your email content is key to its success. 

Because email is such a relationship-based channel at any digital marketing agency, it’s important to treat it as such and take into consideration the content that will resonate best with your audience. Using your email marketing service to combine a healthy mix of promotional and value-add content relevant to your brand will do the trick. 

The Difference Between Hard Sell and Engaging Content

Every healthy email inbox relationship has a bit of a give-and-take balance between you and your subscriber base. 

Think of your hard sell emails as your “take” or your “asks” to your subscriber list. Calls to action for hard sell emails include prompting the users to buy now, sign-up, subscribe, get a demo, attend events, etc. Hard sell emails are typically your most revenue-diving emails, but can often cause users to unsubscribe if too many are sent in a month.

Content-based emails lean more towards your “give” to your subscriber base. Content-focused emails oftentimes include highlighting blog articles, recipes, helpful articles, whitepapers, research studies, video content, etc. Content emails are helpful in keeping users engaging with your content and can even help push email users to other marketing channels like your social media accounts. Content-based emails are less likely to lead to a high unsubscribe percentage if over-used in a month. 

The Keys to Hard Sell Content 

As mentioned above, hard sell emails make up a huge percentage of your revenue gained from emails. With that being said, it is important that your business takes the right approach. The goal here is to lead your subscribers into your sales pipeline by being direct but not too aggressive. Here are the key factors to keep in mind while you are writing next month’s emails.

Showcase hard numbers: Numbers are your proof. It is important to use hard numbers or percentages whenever possible in order to show benefits the user will receive with the product or service.

Highlight product benefit: Odds are, you’ve got competition in your industry. You want your subscribers to know why your product or service stands out over another. The use of real examples are the best way to showcase how your product or service will add value to their lives.

Create a sense of urgency: We live in a world where “I’ll do it later” is a very common trend. Creating a sense of urgency or scarcity is key to funnel your subscribers to the purchasing phase. Use a limited time offer or special deal to get them to act now so they don’t miss out. 

Personalization: The average person receives 121 emails per day, which makes personalization very important. Your emails should look custom and personal to the subscriber to show your business cares about them. This can be done by mentioning their name, the last product they purchased or any other information that is relevant to your subscriber. 

A/B testing: A/B testing allows you to split test different elements like subject lines, imagery, CTAs, send times and more to see what will give you the best results. Conversion rates are what you’re mostly paying attention to in your hard sell emails, so ensure you’re testing elements in a way that will contribute to your conversions. 

Strategic Timing: Day of the week and time of day are not the only factors to keep in mind. There needs to be a customized strategy behind your sends. If you’re pushing a limited time offer, make sure to send out reminders that are strategically spaced out to avoid annoying your subscriber.

Pro Tips for Engaging Content 

Whether you’re looking to push a discount code or promote your latest asset, your content delivery is key. All subscribers are not equally valuable, so how can you ensure you’re creating engaging content that encourages your contacts to open, click or convert? These three tips should help get you there:

  • Do your due-diligence: Just because you think a topic is important doesn’t mean your subscribers do. Use Google Analytics or heat mapping tools like HotJar to find where people are clicking on your website the most. You can also do keyword research with free tools, like Answer the Public, to identify your most searched service/product online. Hone in on what makes people tick.
  • Use the four U’s (usefulness, urgency, uniqueness and ultra-specific):
    • Usefulness: Make sure your content will be able to provide value to your subscribers. Educating and nurturing your database helps you close those deals!
    • Urgency: Limited time offers or flash sales bring a higher level of incentive to your subscribers. If they feel what you’re providing may not be there tomorrow, there’s a good chance they’ll jump on the opportunity sooner.
    • Uniqueness: Highlight what makes your brand different from the rest. There is so much saturation in the market, so spark interest by coming up with ideas that go against the grain.    
    • Ultra-specific: Make sure your content has one main call-to-action. Introducing additional topics may distract your subscribers from the goal at hand.
  • Have a stellar subject line: Your subject line is the first thing people see before they open your email, so make sure it stands out. Extra tip: Use related emojis to draw visual attention to your topic or use capital letters to give an added sense of urgency.

Planning and Balancing Your Email Content Calendar

Now that you’ve crafted both your hard sell and engaging content, it’s time to build your calendar. Use a spreadsheet to map out your email send dates. Select two bright colors, one for engaging content and one for hard sell focused content, and start highlighting the coordinating emails.

Now, sit back and take a comprehensive look at your calendar! Seeing too much of one color? That’s your signal to re-adjust and find a better balance.

Find that Balance!

As you get ready to tackle your upcoming email content calendar, remember to incorporate a healthy mix of hard sell and promotional content that speaks to both your audience and your brand. 

By focusing on creating engaging, relevant messaging, you’ll make sure your email subscribers stay happy — and converting.

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