Digital marketing is a lot like a circus.  This is an analogy you will see me use frequently.  The primary mediums such as primary websites, social media, and email are a lot like the multiple rings under the tent.   Its where most of the action goes on. There are all sorts of side shows and acts running around outside of the the rings, keeping the audience engaged as preparations are made for the next big event. Concession and souvenir stands are the vendors there with their shiny toys and yummy candy to help manage the experience.  Do you feel like a ringmaster?

Email is definitely one of the acts in the main circles.  But it isn’t a one-off event like a guy being shot out of a cannon or animal act with a tiger leaping through a ring of fire.  Its more like a balancing act.  Email campaigns are fluid, have lots of moving parts and could be a main attraction or simply a way to keep the audience engaged while setting up the big event in the next ring.  It’s a balancing act of goals, formats, mediums, and audience.  In this post I’m going to focus on the relationship between goals and message formats.

In the circus, some acts are transitional, intended to continue the ramp-up of excitement and audience engagement.  Others acts are intended to be a distraction while something else is set up or a major costume change is undertake.  The main events are intended to be the elements that leave people amazed and talking.  Each act has a purpose and a place in the flow of the show.  Just like every act in your digital marketing circus needs a purpose or a goal.

Goals for any marketing campaign need to be fully defined and measurable. They need to have very specific run times and in order to run smoothly with all of the other acts, they need to include common themes, careful transitions, and clean hand=offs from piece to piece.  The goals of email campigns tend to fall in to the following categories:

  1. Audience Acquisition – growing and acquiring new potential customers
  2. Sales Conversion – moving people through the cycle to transform from audience to customer
  3. Sales Growth – increasing sales frequency or transaction size

For ongoing, long-term, email-marketing efforts; there are a variety of formats that most campaigns take.  Choosing the proper format for your campaign is simply a matter of coming to terms with the campaigns purpose and what will engage your audience.  A feat more easily said than done.

Most campaigns fall in to 1 of 3 main categories of message format:

  1. Education – raise awareness and knowledge of your business and industry in the minds of the customer
  2. Promotion – deals and offer messages that target specific audience demands
  3. Brand Development – association of your brand with specific themes, activities, or values

Like the performer on the tight-rope or plates being spun on a stick, to stay up in the air, everything has to be in motion.  Sudden changes or stops will send things tumbling.

There is no reason that a long term campaign can’t utilize all of these message formats for individual componants.  But in the long run, the primary focus of the campaign will tend to steer the messages towards one format or another.  That isn’t to say that multiple campaigns cannot be running at the same time.  But to manage audience fatigue, don’t over-do it.  You will notice in the circus there isn’t a lot of competition for attention.