Remember in school when your English teacher taught you to write a paper by following this simple formula?
- Tell them what you’re going to say (intro).
- Say it (body).
- Tell them what you said (conclusion).
Something similar works for email marketing too, not for email content though, but as a guide for meeting your subscriber’s expectations.
Why subscriber expectations matter
I suspect there are more than five reasons to meet your subscriber’s expectations, but I think these are the most important:
- They trusted you with something of value: their email address.
- Right from the start, you will either validate their decision to trust you or not, based on how well you follow through on what you promised when they subscribed.
- You’re setting the stage for the rest of what you hope will be a long and fruitful relationship. Don’t blow it. You worked hard to get that subscriber in the first place. Now you must work hard to keep them.
- Not meeting expectations will damage your brand…
- …and your deliverability.
Applying the English lesson to email marketing
Now let’s go back to our English lessons from middle school and apply them to email marketing in a little more depth:
- Tell them what you’re going to say, a.k.a. Set the expectations at sign up and in your welcome email. This means the signup page on your website spells out the reasons why they should subscribe. That’s where you are setting the stage for everything that follows. Be accurate. Indicate how often you’ll email and with what kind of content. Then remind them of these promises in the welcome email that confirms their subscription. (You do use a welcome email, right?)
- Say it, a.k.a. Keep your promises in your email(s), both regarding content and frequency. Actions really do speak louder than words. If your subscription page promises one kind of content and/or frequency, but the reality is something else, you’re causing a disconnect that shows you’re sloppy or a liar who isn’t keeping any promises. And if you can’t keep your word about how an email subscription will work, how trustworthy will you be when it comes to actually buying product from you?!
- Tell them what you said, a.k.a. Remind them of your promises in your emails. With every email you send, say something short and sweet to remind them why they subscribed in the first place and to show you’re meeting the expectations you laid out. Words like “As promised when you subscribed to our newsletter, here’s your…” or “Here’s your weekly email from…” state facts and reiterate intent.
The business of setting and meeting expectations works for much more than school essays and management memos. It can work to help you meet subscriber expectations too. And when you meet a subscriber’s expectations, you keep them subscribed.