ThinkGeek, for all your caffeinated food item needs, and the value of email marketing.

At my last marketing job we bought a lot of stuff from ThinkGeek, for raffle gifts at networking events and business expos, for adding humor to gift baskets, and for our own entertainment. A lot of the goodies on our “Gifts for Geek Clients” Pinterest board came from ThinkGeek. Email newsletter marketing on mobile devices

So we got regular ThinkGeek email newsletters, and we actually opened and read every one.

How does a for-profit business get us to read its marketing email?

By knowing their market, having a really good email template, and filling it with great content.

Email newsletters are stronger than ever as a marketing tool, despite the challenge of making them render attractively or even decently across the increasing variety of devices and email clients people view them on.

Email templates have to be coded in HTML, with CSS. TG’s newsletters display perfectly in Outlook, even though they include lots of images and links.

In Gmail, which strips out all images and much graphic formatting, the newsletter is still readable with text formatting in place and messages that appear in place of the images.

Being mindful of what has to be explicitly built into the newsletter for each email client is crucial. It’s also very helpful to have your email newsletter template built by someone who knows how to make it stand out from cookie-cutter Constant Contact and MailChimp templates.

The TG newsletter is colorful and chatty, with a geek-friendly we-speak-your-language tone. It’s highly topical – like a reference to an Internet-exploding episode of Game of Thrones to promote TG’s GoT board game. A typical week’s also included a product so ridiculous we had to click over to the website- Caffeinated Sugar!

When writing an email newsletter to your client base, you want to keep the welcome mat out for future emails. Don’t spam readers with your priorities.

Keep the focus on what’s important to your clients and add value with interesting content. Gauge the tone to fit the level of formality that’s typical in your industry. Include clever social share incentives like a “tweet this tip” in your informative content. Don’t forget that email newsletters should always include icons that link to your social media and an RSS button to subscribe to your blog.

If it’s appropriate to your industry, make it fun; if your clients expect a more serious tone, make it elegant.

CEOs can help their marketing professionals when it’s time to write a newsletter: what’s new in hires, products or services from your company, are any sea changes in your industry affecting your clients, and is there a segment where you’re gaining or losing clients? Budgeting time for your company experts to write a technical tip for your newsletter pays off in value-adding content.

Offering a coupon, contest or sale at the top of your newsletter and mentioning the exact prize value or percentage off in the header will help you get opens.

If you have a great white paper, include a button to click for a free download. Engage readers by showing you value their input. ThinkGeek uses the brilliant gimmick of soliciting and publishing a weekly Tech Haiku from readers.

A photo contest is a great way to engage your clients, and asking them in your newsletter to submit the photos on your Facebook page can jumpstart your Facebook activity if it’s lagging. If your business is precision machining, like T324’s wonderful client QQE, you can still run a photo contest. Pick something fun about your team and include an example, like “most pictures of kids on desk”, and ask your clients to respond in kind; offer a gift basket as a prize. Ask for stories about how your clients use your product or service, and print the story in the next newsletter.

Remember, an inbox is a personal space. Enter it politely, sincerely, and with something worthwhile to give. And look like you dressed nicely to visit- make sure your template looks beautiful!

this post originally appeared on the T324 blog.

This entry was posted in Serious marketing yakking. on by .

About Suzanne Forbes

Suzanne Forbes is a traditionally trained figurative artist, writer and bricoleur. She is an expat New Yorker living and thriving in Berlin with her third husband and their two cats. In previous lives she was a courtroom artist for CBS and CNN, a penciller for DC Comics on Star Trek, and a live-drawing chronicler of Bay Area alternative culture.

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