This week's issue of the VerticalResponse newsletter is featuring a very good article on email branding:
"Every interaction with a customer or a prospective customer is an opportunity - an opportunity not only to make a sale, but also to create, refine or enhance the way you are perceived. Yes, email is a functional, cost-effective way to communicate - that's why we love it. But just because email is easy and inexpensive doesn't mean it should seem cheap. Or boring.
Below, we've included a checklist of steps you can take to inject your email campaign with a personality that expresses the character of your company and sets it apart from the crowd.
1. Define your Values
- Identify the key traits or values your business represents and write them down. Attributes such as "reliability," "responsiveness," "efficiency," "creativity," and "economy" are ideals that resonate with customers.
- Keep the list at hand when preparing external communications and try to infuse your messages with as many of the desired attributes as possible.
- At the conclusion of the first draft email, refer to the list and see how many of the terms you've successfully incorporated.
- Represent some concepts visually. Think about ways to complement the text with images, if not in the actual email, then through a link at the top of the message that leads readers to a site where they can see the entire display - text and graphics - without interference.
- Create a style guide that establishes ground rules for email communications. Style guides can encompass which logos to use, what your company does, what your design layout should be and how to emphasize the organization's core values.
2. Fight for Position.
- Each email presents a chance to establish your place in the market so customers have a better sense of what your business offers compared to the competition. You can accomplish this type of positioning in a number of ways:
- Give your emails a dynamic look. Use taglines, altered logos and message-specific color schemes to create a mood and enhance the perception of your brand.
- Highlight the quality of your product or service using adjectives, such as "best-selling" or "industry leader," that place you above the competition.
- Differentiate your company by specifying the manner in which its goods or services outperform those of the competition. Whenever possible, provide real world testimonials to support your claims.
3. Early and Often
- Your email recipients don't have to open your message in the first place - and if they do, they can close it faster than you can grab a remote or touch that dial. In order to capture the attention of potential customers, here are a few tips:
- Strike quickly - you need to establish a relationship with customers soon after they've registered by providing relevant information and the offers you promised them.
- Engage customers repeatedly - not with sluggish emails, but with distinct, compelling quick-hitting communication.
- Stay away from elaborate, slow-loading images and trendy flash designs - they may be pretty, but they can also lose the crowd before your message is heard.
4. Take the Long View Always keep your business's long-term goals and core values in mind, even when promoting special items or limited offers. Remember, for some customers, the first impression is the only impression, for others the last impression is the only impression. Avoid selling-out your company's overall image in order to realize short-terms gains that undermine your brand. It takes years to build a strong brand, only days for one to come undone. If you treat your brand as a precious gift to be nurtured at every opportunity, even in - especially in - email campaigns, you'll reap the benefits across all aspects of your business."