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Vary Well: Consistency vs. Change in Email Marketing

Vary Well: Consistency vs. Change in Email Marketing

Posted 09/04/2009 by Gareth Cutter

'Consistency is key' is a mantra drummed into every marketer by marketing gurus and for good reason: consistently high-quality content in your email marketing is more likely to gain trust in subscribers. Likewise, consistent colour schemes and brand logos will improve recognition. Trust and recognition equal more sales.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have commentators advising that messages should be tailored and made more relevant to subscribers. Since subscribers' tastes and marketing trends update on such a regular basis, that would suggest changes need to be made to your email marketing just as frequently.

So it would seem marketers are being told their marketing campaigns should stay the same yet change at the same time. How is this possible?

Decisions to change certain elements of your email marketing should never be made lightly. If you have chosen your company name as your sender name, it would be wise to keep this the same. Changing it to a customer representative's name at a later date might add a personal touch, but it's possible the subscriber won't recognise the name and lose trust in the email. This is throwing away the value of an established connection.

Subject lines, however, are prime locations for establishing topicality and relevance to the subscriber. Provided the sender name is kept the same, you can make changes here and trust people will still identify it's from you. A generic subject like 'Your (Company Name) Newsletter (Date)' holds little intrigue or interest to your subscribers and doesn't communicate why they should open the email. Changing the subject line to fit the newsletter's content will.

Content should also change - which might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many companies wear their subscribers down with the same tired offers and messaging.

Changing content isn't the same as changing the house style of your copy; if you've chosen to write in a professional voice, you should stick to it as subscribers will have formed an expectation around it. Changes to this are likely to be met with confusion and dislike.

Changes to topic and offer on the other hand, are more likely to be welcomed. Likewise, design can be changed too provided it still fits in with the company image - but branding, logos and colour schemes are harder to update without suitable notification in advance.

So it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. All you must bear in mind when contemplating a change is: 'Will recipients still recognise us?' and, 'Is it still in line with customer expectations of the brand?' If the changes pass these tests, embrace the variation.

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