Are your e-shots firing blanks?

Finding your inbox besieged by e-shots is a common problem. From the recipient’s point of view this can be a minor irritation, but for the sender the implications are more concerning.

On some days I receive over 100 e-shots, so the question is how do you make your company’s effort stand out. The advent of off-the-shelf designs and the very cheap cost of entry for sending e-campaigns have encouraged more and more companies to use this medium. But the downside of this DIY approach is that sometimes the content is lacking in interest. Employing a creative team to give your e-shots an edge may seem an unnecessary extravagance but if no one is looking at your emails, you may as well not bother.

An experienced copywriter will ruthlessly question what you are offering and distil your message into something compelling and eye-catching. With a dispassionate perspective they may well spot angles you have overlooked or become too familiar with. An art director will not only add something visually exciting to your e-shot but will also ensure that the design conforms with your company’s overall style guide, adding the consistency that reflects a company’s professionalism. There are also various words, phrases and styles of presentation to avoid if you want more of your emails to avoid the spam box. If you are looking to provide more of an e-newsletter, make sure the articles are of genuine interest to your readers, not just thinly disguised attempts at a hard sell. In short it’s worth spending the money you’ve saved on postage and print on the creative input that will make sure every e-shot hits the mark.

Creativity wins out – when it’s relevant

Last year’s IPA report confirmed what we creative agencies have always maintained – that creativity has a direct effect on ROI. Creative ads do generate more sales. A word of caution though: even with all the analysis tools at the disposal of today’s marketer there is still room for misleading stats to suggest average work is stunningly effective. Getting enormous number of hits on a viral ad is not conclusive proof of a successful campaign. Apart from the fact that skilful web operatives will have indulged in viral seeding to boost the number of hits, there is not necessarily a link between an entertaining piece of film and a sale.

This is particularly the case where the viral film has no intrinsic link to the product. Take the recent spate of ads featuring animated animals, cuddly toys, household objects. Where the product is intrinsically linked to the idea this works well – look at the success of those ubiquitous Meerkats. This fulfils an old criterion of good advertising – that the campaign could not be used for any other product. But whilst this rule is too much of straitjacket today (pardon the impending pun), it’s hard to see the connection between dancing second hand clothes and Cadbury chocolate. Emperor’s new clothes more like.

Waterstone’s watershed

There has been much debate about the vanishing apostrophe on Waterstones. As a copywriter, I am usually pretty hot on poor grammar and spelling in marketing communications, but I have to say this issue doesn’t particularly concern me. We are, after all, talking about a logo here, so the word’s physical shape is important as well as the sound. Spelling and grammar are secondary in a brand name – Toys R Us, Phones4u, Flickr and Xperia all deliberately flout normal conventions. And of course when it comes to the web, urls are no respecters of punctuation. So if your name’s O’Flaherty-Smythe it’s probably best to call your bookshops something else.

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