When is a Click More Important than a Purchase?

Live from MarketingSherpa Summit 2017


How long do you have to know someone before helping them move? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t invest that kind of time without having an existing relationship with a person. As I listened to my father, Flint McGlaughlin, teach in today’s Email Messaging Workshop at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, I recalled an episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry went into a panic when asked to help a new friend move:


If you wouldn’t even help someone move at the beginning of a friendship, how could you expect a customer to be ready to make a purchase with only an email? Marketers often get so focused on increasing purchases that we confuse the goal of an email with that of a landing page. The goal of most emails is simply to get a click.

In today’s workshop, we reviewed a recent experiment conducted with an internationally recognized news service known, specifically, for its work in journalism. The goal of this test was to increase paid home delivery subscriptions using promotional email campaigns.

The Control

The Control email attempted to sell the customer, asking too much at this stage in the conversion process. Everything from the headline to the CTA asked the customer to “subscribe” before they even know what they’re being asked to subscribe to. Essentially, the value was not understood, and therefore, the perceived cost outweighed the perceived value. As Flint McGlaughlin writes in his book:

“The marketer must match the message to the stage. We achieve this by synchronizing geography with chronology. This requires the marketer to map each micro-yes of the thought sequence, to understand each degree of incremental commitment, and most importantly, to view each macro-yes as the sum of the total micro-yes(s) in the process.”The Marketer as Philosopher, “Reflection 5.”


The Treatment

After analyzing the customer’s motivation and mapping the thought sequence, the research team developed a treatment that guided the reader through a logical series of micro-conversions. The new email ended with a call-to-action that asked for just the right amount of commitment to match the customer’s stage in the conversion process.

The Results

This resulted in a 30% increase in clickthroughs, and thus, a 136% increase in purchases.

Ultimately, your value proposition should be the essence of every email; the copy is only the form. As Dr. McGlaughlin often says, “Clarity trumps persuasion.” With everyone’s inboxes already flooded with emails, it is natural to have to compete with the many other voices in the marketplace; however, you should never have to compete with unnecessary voices in your own collateral. When writing effective email copy, you must always consider the question, “Is there a single word/piece of content in the email that does not help to achieve a click?” Anything unnecessary is just “noise” distracting from the click.

Today, the importance of communicating your message quickly and efficiently is more pressing than ever. The amount of time you have to hook your readers is growing smaller and smaller every day. People receive their email notifications on an anything from a laptop, to a smartphone, or even more limited, a smartwatch.

I recently purchased a smartwatch, myself, and have been greatly enjoying my new ability to judge every notification I get within seconds of its delivery. I can glance at the subject and first sentence or two of an email and know immediately whether I am interested in its content. With so many of your customers having this same ability, you must ensure that your email captures their interest immediately. At the end of the day, to stand out from the many competing voices and limitations in the marketplace, there are essentially six key objectives your email should accomplish:

  1. Arrest attention
  2. Build connection
  3. Build problem
  4. Build interest
  5. Build suspense
  6. Transfer momentum

Summit Day 1 starts tomorrow, so the speaker sessions officially begin — I’ll be eagerly looking forward to learning more about how to craft effective messaging in them.

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  2. Prathamesh Yeotekar says

    Shaniah Great article in Hype of Email Marketing the true purpose of Email Marketing can be ignored. Emails can divert traffic but the main work to convert a customer starts after.Article is was totally worth of reading.

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