Call Me Old Fashioned But I Like My Women Old Fashioned Marketing With New Fashioned Technology

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Old Fashioned Marketing With New Fashioned Technology

It seems we have come full circle when it comes to communicating with our prospects and customers. I’ve noticed recently that I’ve been paying a lot less attention to online newsletters and the beautiful HTML messages that arrive in my inbox every day. There are of course a few exceptions. But mostly I’m interested in the CONTENT of what’s being delivered, not the design or graphics. When given the choice, I no longer ask for the HTML version of anything – instead I just choose the text version.

There was a time when it was unusual to receive anything other than plain text in your email inbox. We then moved on to designing branded newsletters and “postcard-like” invitations that would grab our readers’ attention. Now, thanks to ever-improving SPAM filters, many of those fancy invitations, notifications and emails don’t even make it to our desks. And for those who get through the firewall, we’ve gotten sick and tired of looking at all these designs. We just want the information – short, sweet and simple.

Based on this hunch, we recently experimented with a client who has been running a series of seminars. As is typical, invitations were sent out using HTML and branded design. But registrations were down and we were looking for a way to increase attendance. So we sent out another notification about the event, except this was a simple text email. In the “from” section, we had the real person’s name. In the line “subject” we inserted the name of the seminar. In the body of the email was a sentence inviting the recipient to attend the seminar. We had about 3 key “what you get” bullets and the basic description of the 2 hour session.

Within 24 hours of sending the SMS email, we received an additional 10 registrants for the event. Since the event was limited to 25 participants, this was almost 50% of our audience! We thought we might be on to something, so we did it again for another customer event. And again the results were the same. The plain text email outperformed the HTML invitation by over 50%. Why? I think our brains are just a little tired. You can compare this to walking down the Las Vegas strip at night. For starters, the lights are beautiful and everything grabs your attention. But walk the strip every night for months and months, and after a while the pretty twinkling lights won’t catch your attention anymore. You just want to focus on arriving at your destination.

Because of this, I believe we are returning to a more old fashioned way of communicating. I don’t have time to read my online newsletters as often as I’d like. But I notice that on Sunday afternoons I sit down and read several printed journals I receive in the mail each month. The “cold-call” email blasts never catch my attention, but last week I got a very smart direct mail that gave me pause and actually made me call the service provider. And I recently signed up for a webinar on advanced search engine marketing techniques that I learned about from a plain text email delivered to me from the owner of the interactive consulting firm.

Am I advocating that we do away with HTML newsletters and announcements? Of course not. They have a place in our marketing mix just like anything else. I suggest you consider switching HTML with plain text and experiment with both. If you’re hosting an event, why not alternate each message — the first in HTML, the second in plain text, etc. And the day before the event — send a reminder in plain text. And let me know if your response rates start to increase with this “old fashioned” approach to email marketing.

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