We’re Doing Email Wrong

By Matt McFadden | May 10, 2017

The influx of social channels in the last few years has changed how we consume content and what we’ve come to enjoy, and email was left for dead on the roadside like a tragically unaware possum.

With pretty pictures, inane filters, and live video making us all feel like amazing content creators, email became just a place for all the boring info we’re obligated to tell our students, alumni, faculty, & parents.

But then I heard Martha Patzer from 270 Strategies talk about how the Obama campaign tweaked, tested, and ripped apart every notion anyone had about email. While her talk was deep on A/B testing (which we won’t get into, because that’s a little heavy for a post that just compared email to a dying possum), it made me think that email can be enjoyable. We can share content that’s “Instagrammy.” We can put a twitter-like stream of consciousness in someone’s inbox. We can crush someone’s data with an overload of gifs. And, when we have to, we can send them the necessary evils. The event updates, the “hey, we got a new endowed chair”, the “don’t forget to pay your parking tickets or you aren’t graduating” necessities. They are far more likely to open and consume the important items if they’ve been opening and enjoying things that remind them of why they love or loved your school.

Email is still popular, if for no other reason than it’s required. And it still gets shared (I just got a re: fwd: fwd: fwd: email from my dad, so, proof). Because of that, you now have a license to make it fun. Just like you’re doing content strategy for social, try it for email. Drop some campus experience in their inbox. Share that amazing student profile you just posted on Instagram a few days later via email. No need to outthink the room, just find a consistent way to repurpose content from other channels and go.

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