Customers are pretty picky on where they squander their precious time and attention. So imagine how great it is if you are the only one in your industry that does get that attention and can increase engagement with your audience over your competitors.

It is definitely possible, but requires to rise above the common superficial online marketing push (not the same as push marketing).

The flywheel effect of your customers’ filter frenzy

Filtering of messages is nothing new, people have done this manually for years. But through the changes in the marketing landscape (mobile, social, search, the inbox) more is filtered out as noise while the effect of truly outstanding marketing messages is multiplied.

Take a look at this clip from a recent TED talk by Frans de Waal. We get to observe the reaction of a capuchin monkeys when he sees that the other monkey gets a better “deal” and he continues to get a different, in his eyes worse, reward. The highlight of the video starts at 1:34.

Mediocrity seemed to be enough, at one point in time. But it doesn’t cut it for todays’ well informed customer and will be filtered out. And just like the monkey, will kindly return your goods and reject your message if it isn´t up to their new (and raised) standards.

In itself digital channels are increasingly filtering too. On a social media channel like Facebook only 16% of your messages will actually ever reach the timeline of your Facebook Friends. In search, only the first page for your keywords is really the most interesting.

Uninteresting messages are automatically deprioritized

Inboxes and their filters are now so powerful that they not only filter unwanted (spam) messages, but also know how to sort incoming email into categories and deprioritize uninteresting messages. They will even suggest you to unsubscribe or create a filter for them if you (or others) are not showing enough email marketing engagement. Anything to enhance the user experience and reduce every hint of ‘information overload’.

Think about it, the gap between the haves and have-nots in digital marketing is getting bigger and bigger.
Marketers are now faced with a (new) set of challenges; persuading beyond that initial interest and leaping towards interaction. The tease marketer picks up that glove and goes to work.

Captivate an audience, make them your audience

Behaviour shows which interesting, desired, messages receive more attention. The smart marketer responds to that and makes sure his messages are genuinely more interesting and stimulate action.

This is good news for marketers who already know how to captivate an audience. They will increasingly rise above the mediocre email marketing of others, also in results. One advantage of a highly measurable channel such as email, is that you see the progress reflected in opens, clicks, shares, and let’s not forget the ultimate engagement metrics: Conversions and customer value.

An additional reason to encourage an active and responsive email list.

Tease marketing, a must for the marketer looking for behavioral engagement

Pavlov got his dog to drool by ringing a bell every time he gave him food. Later on, the bell itself was enough to let the dog drool, without the stimulant of the food.

Your stimulant is the tease, the seduction you offer to the recipient, give and maintain this continuously and you are building a relationship.

Replace the bell with your email marketing message and you have a potential goldmine.

From a customer centric standpoint, Direct Marketing has always been about value and interaction. Sometimes a newsletter is more relationship focussed or informative. But most of the times it is predominantly action-orientated. We have combined the factors that stimulate action into a weighted score: The tease factor.

Tease Factor: benchmark the allure and magnetism of your email marketing

The tease factor is an indication of the allure and magnetism of an email. An indication of the extent to which you encourage your recipients to be active and engaged. Think about the combined influence of imagery, offers, text, topics and the right Call-to-Actions.

How to optimize for behavioural engagement

Email marketing messages should, following this rationale, not only be optimized for direct conversions but also for engagement. Engagement can be split in emotional engagement (Feelings, emotions and brand affection) and behavioural engagement (Action; What is done now and decided for future actions).

Active recipients show behavioural engagement with your messages (open, read, click , etc ). As far as measurements go, this is always seen as positive activity. The activity is taken as a sign that the messages are interesting. They provoke action and will at least result in a higher level top-of-mind. Every active touch could represent a step on the road to conversion.

Four steps to look differently at engaging email

Now you may be thinking ; “Aren’t we already doing this?”. Everyone wants higher levels of click-through and conversions? But that’s not the point. A little thought exercise:

  1. Lay out all your emails side by side and see how many are purely focused on direct purchases. This leaves no choice for the people that, at that time, do not want to buy. When there is no meaningful alternative presented, they cannot (be expected to) interact.
  2. Add to that all the emails where the gist or your entire message is in the email itself. This doesn’t encourage any activity “beyond the read”.
  3. And then the mails that, in the eyes of the recipient, contain a repeated message. Without variation there is no incentive for active recipients to further engage with your brand.
  4. Finally we look at the emails that remain (if there are any). For what percentage of your email list are those really interesting? Are they also geared towards the profile of a – soon to be – inactive recipient?

Presenting an – already in itself – appealing email marketing message

I hope those four steps will allow you to look at your email marketing in a different light and craft a more engaging email. Take a step back and craft messages that fit the disengaged profile, add variation to your email marketing, ask for further engagement (click and beyond) and add alternatives next to purchases.

If there ever was an “opt-in for life”, it is well in the past in the eyes of your recipients. It has been replaced with tease marketing, continuously building on a brand relationship based on mutual interest. The challenge is no longer just about matching message, timing and recipient, but also in presenting an – already in itself – appealing and attractive message.

Image via Flickr