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Email Marketing
Q.
I'm in charge of writing all of our marketing text, including our trade show email promotions. What are some key things to keep in mind when composing these ever-important messages?

A.
Most people whip off emails every day of their lives without a second thought as to their effectiveness. But exhibit-marketing emails are a whole different ballgame. Often, you have to not only lure recipients (most often strangers) into reading the messages, but establish a relationship and prompt them into taking action. So here are five major missteps that can get in the way of effective email marketing. They're the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating effective e-marketing campaigns, but if you avoid them, your missives will have a far greater chance of being both read and acted upon.
➤ Self-Centered Subject Matter. Marketing emails should always provide something of value to the recipients. Sure, you might want people to come to your booth or check out your online product catalog, for example. But what's in it for them if they do? For a better success rate, provide an enticing offer (maybe 10 percent off an immediate purchase), special treatment (perhaps a VIP gift distributed at the booth), or links to resources, articles, etc. And by all means, call out these offers in your subject line to prompt people to open the email in the first place.
➤ Too Many Missives. Is one email per day too many? What about one per week? Is one per month still overkill? If you're promoting a specific exhibit presence, an effective plan might be to send one primer message a month before your campaign, then another the week prior to its launch, and maybe two more in the days leading up to the show. But each industry has its own tipping point, and it's up to you to use trial and error, track open rates and campaign success, and determine how much is too much. If you bypass that tipping point a few too many times, recipients will quickly tune out your messages and perhaps turn up their noses at your booth.
➤ Confusing Content. Marketers often cram too many messages into one email, trying in vain to accomplish multiple things at once. But one clear call to action and a single campaign message per email is all recipients can successfully consume in a sitting. For example, your message might be "We offer the highest-resolution security camera on the market," and your call to action could be to visit your microsite and sign up for an in-booth demonstration. But when your message is a to-do list – buy this, call for a free consultation on that, follow us on Twitter, sign up for the newsletter, etc. – recipients are easily overwhelmed and less likely to follow through with any action.
➤ Visual Clutter. The most effective emails keep the design interface and messaging simple. That means clearly written and formatted content, as well as clean, fresh graphics and design. You want to attract the eye and deliver your messages as quickly and succinctly as possible. Then, if readers are ready for more content and eye candy, they'll click on the link to your website, which should be an omnipresent component of all your electronic correspondence.
➤ Failure to Segment. Today, online marketers have countless options of list segmentation at their fingertips, including geographics, socioeconomics, and demographics. Exhibit marketers can segment by job title and company location, and if you've qualified past leads properly, you can separate by buying power, plans to purchase, etc. With the ability to break your audience into several bite-sized chunks, every email should be a delicious morsel for each specific audience. For example, don't send a time-sensitive discount offer to a recipient who has already told you he's not ready to buy for another year. In short: To increase effectiveness, segment as much as possible and target your messages to each unique group. Doing so sends the message that you understand and can deliver on prospects' needs.

As you can see, none of these tips are rocket science. But far too often people view e-marketing messages as an afterthought – something they can whip up and send off with very little consideration. By simply avoiding the aforementioned pitfalls and giving a bit more time and attention to your email-marketing campaigns, you'll likely increase effectiveness the next time you hit "send."


— Kevin Layton, CEO, Data-Dynamix Inc., Teaneck, NJ
Help Wanted
Send your tough questions about exhibiting to Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitormagazine.com.

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