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Mar 19, 2007
Blog Post

Dramatic Shift -- Email Creative That Works

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, President

Is email no longer a super-personal medium? 10 years ago I used to train marketers in the art of email best practices. "Make your creative personal," I'd say. "Email is a more personal medium than direct postal mail. It's one-to-one. Not mass."

But, after looking over our latest Creative Samples Gallery of Email Awards (see link below if you missed it last week), I suddenly realized email-creative-that-works has changed a lot in the past decade ...

I and other email "experts" used to counsel against the mass-marketing look and feel for email creative. However, I've seen the (often private) results data for hundreds of campaigns in every marketplace you can imagine in the past 12 months ... and, the truth is, email creative that works has changed.

Email creative that looks like an advertising flier; that looks like a mass communication; that looks punchy and promotional; absolutely can work gangbusters in the right market.

I guess consumers who used to think of their in-box as a personal, private space don't anymore. The email box has become much more like a real-world mailbox. People expect to see, and respond to, a range of styles -- from glossy fliers to multi-offer catalogs to plain transaction notes.

In fact, the old adage about making your email creative appear to be from one person to another is probably far more true of mobile marketing for now. If you're going to text message (AKA SMS) your mobile opt-in file, then it should be personal.

Now, I'm NOT saying email marketing that works isn't one-to-one. One-to-one really, really matters. But it's a different kind of one-to-one. It's all about personal relevancy.

Is the offer (or content) being presented in the email truly relevant to the individual receiving it? Or are you sending the same offer (or content) to the masses? If you segment carefully so each part of your list gets what really matters to them individually, then they'll respond. Big time.

So, the big shift for email creative boils down to this:

Instead of making our email creative appear or read like it's from one human to another human (which was nearly always a lie, after all), it's OK to let it look promotional. However, that promotion *should* be targeted to the individual as much as possible.

You're sending an ad, so use your best (tested) ad creative. One-to-one in email is now all about sending the right ad to the right person instead of the same personal-looking ad to everyone.

Useful links related to this article

If you didn't get a chance to review Sherpa's Gallery of Email Awards 2007 here's the link -- it's incredibly inspirational and open year-round for the benefit for the marketing community:

If you'd like to learn about other marketing awards, you can nominate yourself for, Sherpa tracks a grand total of 251 for you here:
See Also:

Comments about this Blog Entry

Mar 19, 2007 - Janis Raye of Raphel Marketing says:
I agree with the concept that email marketing can indeed look like good professional ads, and that people will be happy to receive them in their e-mailboxes if the content is relevant. We send monthly birthday and anniversary email messages from a restaurant chain, using the restaurant's customer database who have volunteered their email addresses to receive these offers. This kind of email message is targeted and generally welcome to those who have joined the database. This kind of email is very akin to direct snail mail -- it's often the list that reigns supreme. By the way, we've taken a page from your book and started a blog to discuss marketing issues. Take a look at

Mar 19, 2007 - Susan Weiner of InvestmentWriting says:
You are so right that email has changed over the past 10 years.

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