Imagine you're having a meal at a fancy restaurant
You're settling in for some delicious starters and at this point something strange happens. The waiter informs you that there's a wonderful chocolate cake for dessert.
And delightful the chocolate cake may be, but you're irritated. You're bugged because the waiter broke the sequence. And we all know the sequence, don't we? First the drinks, then the starters, then the main meal, and so on. If the sequence is broken, it doesn't matter how good the up-sell is—we just get irritated.
That's approximately the same thing that happens when you send out an email newsletter
As email newsletters go, we all have a ton of editorial. And then we have advertising. We’re selling an event, promoting some other event, or offering some product or service to our niche audience. And we're not exactly sure where we should put this “advertisement”. Should we put it at the start? Or at the end? Or smack in the middle?
Let's explore what happens when we put it at the end.
The job of your article is to empower the customer. Now let's say you wrote an article about headlines. And let's say the article wends it through several steps of headline writing. With every step, the reader is empowered. And empowering a customer means they get hooked in. They want to know more. And more and more.
What you've done effectively, is given them the “starter”—and no half-hearted starter but something that has gotten their juices flowing. Now they're keen for the main meal. The main meal as it were, is your workshop, your consulting or your product. It's a logical jump from starter to main meal.
So if you up-sell at this point, there's far less irritation and more eagerness to get to the next step. So yeah, the ending is a great place to have your “advertisement”.
But what about the start of the article?
Don't people up-sell at the top, before you even start the article? Yes they do. And that too—amazing as it may sound—is natural. We like to know what we're in for, so if your waiter were to tell you what to expect for starters, mains and dessert—and do so at the top, you wouldn't find it weird at all.
You'd treat it merely as an announcement—akin to having an agenda, or a table of contents. You don't see it as much as an intrusion.
But in the middle it jars…
It's irritating. It breaks the sequence. It interrupts. It spoils the mood. You have to clamber over the advertising to get to the other side. The job of the restaurant is to get you from one point of the meal to the other and the next action is always integrated in the previous action. Anything out of sequence always jars.
And so with your email, you need to follow the sequence where you hold the customer's attention. And you take them from one end to the other, and the up-sell becomes not only natural, but wanted. It's all integrated. There's no speed bump.
But is there research to back up this concept of integration?
Sure there is. It's a little obtuse as it's not directly connected to email marketing, but it will give you a good idea of how integration works all the same.
So let's look at integration. In the reality TV series, “American Idol” there are three sponsors. When research is done about the sponsors, most people can remember Coke (that seems to come to mind first) and then Cingular Wireless. So who's the third sponsor? Are you stumped? Well most people are.
And it's not because the third sponsor gets less airtime.
It’s not because the third sponsor is not a well-known brand. It's not because the third sponsor is some weird product or service. So why don't people remember the third sponsor? It's because it's not integrated in the whole sequence of events.
Coke is. You see the red seats. You see the judges drinking Coke.
Coke integrates naturally in the whole sequence of events. The other sponsor, Cingular Wireless also integrates. You have to text or SMS your response to vote. Again it's integrated. But the third sponsor has no such integration in their sequence.
Yes the third sponsor is Ford
So you see a lot of stuff about Ford, but there's no integration at all within the sequence. It’s about a car company in the middle of something. And so like a lot of interruption advertising, it simply jars. It gets in the way. It becomes less memorable and less actionable.
When you're interrupting the customers you're just getting in their way. And so the response of the customer is to either ignore you or “detest” you in some way.
But it doesn't have to be like that at all. You can integrate information in your content very easily and get the customer to not only like what you say, but take the next step and buy what you have to offer.
So get rid of that ad in the middle.
Stick it at the top of your newsletter if you like. Put it at the end. You'll find out that not only is it natural to put it on both ends of the newsletter, but your readers find it to be the most useful locations as well.
Or you can choose to interrupt—and give them dessert before the mains.
It's your choice.
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