Television and marketing, what can they have in common? In this article, we are exploring some of the best practices used in modern highly successful TV and applying them to email marketing.
Television has shown incredible growth in the last few years, both in quantity and, more importantly, quality.
TV is on the rise with hundreds of original scripted series hitting the screens every year and per-episode budgets for some projects creeping past (and sometimes waaay past) $5 million.
The best creative minds are drawn to amazing big budget projects – showrunners keep the audience on their toes week after week and have them come rushing back to the screen even after long hiatuses.
Can any of their professional tricks be applied in email marketing? Let’s have a look.
Create an immersive experience
A big part of why people love TV shows is escapism.
For an hour they turn off the On switch, relax and enjoy the ride. Not only is the experience thrilling, it also requires minimal effort on behalf of the viewer.
Apply this in email marketing by making your email an experience:
- Establish the look and rules of your world.
- Introduce inhabitants, environment and history.
- Create an immersive design that matches your message and brand tone.
- Tie up your world with text, illustrations and content.
- Use entertaining language.
- Focus on creating stories.
Zara email newsletter from March 26, 2019
Have your reader experience a secret-gardenesque stumble upon the captivating world of your company. Don’t just design a nice email header and stop there – make your whole email a colorful and meaningful experience.
And most importantly, carry your style, both visual and verbal, from one issue to the next.
The second hook
Ever noticed that your typical TV show episode generally has two hooks?
One gets resolved within a single episode, while the other slowly progresses throughout half or the whole season, and sometimes series.
This plot structure helps get the audience from one scene to the next and draws them back to the screen a week later.
Here’s how to apply this in email marketing:
- choose a company event to lead up to and gradually add teasers and bits of information regarding the event, building up the interest as the event approaches,
- host a slow-burn treasure hunt placing clues in your emails,
- add useful information at the end of each email (this can be anything related to your business – from a weather report to market stats to Italian shoe prices).
Make them root for the characters
Shipping has become the root of all epic fandom wars and showrunners’ cluttered twitter feeds, but also for growing ratings.
Audiences root for characters so bad they don’t just tune in to watch every week – they write fanfiction, talk incessantly about them on- and offline, and are glued to social media for a glimpse of spoilers.
In a marketing email, you can use a less ambitious version of this – give a voice to your brand characters and mascots as characters in your emails.
Alternatively, turn the actors you hire to voice or star in your ads into similar email guest stars:
- let them talk about their experiences with your product and business,
- make email announcements of some of your hottest news using the voice of these characters,
- keep your readers updated about the characters’ lives, developing them over time.
Here’s how Jeni’s Ice Cream uses their founder Jeni as their brand character for an email communication:
Jeni’s Ice Creams email from March 20, 2019
Hide Easter eggs
This one will take time, effort and dedication, but you can do it.
Iconic TV shows, as well as movie franchises, are known for weaving in so-called Easter eggs into their narrative.
If you are not familiar with the term – Easter eggs are subtle references, mentions or appearances of previously shown events or characters.
Why use Easter eggs?
- Everyone loves being in the know.
- Easter eggs help foster community by giving your audience something to bond over.
- They are memorable.
- They improve open rates.
- More comments on your social media.
Easter egg ideas for marketing emails
- introduce an inside joke
- refer to a big past event
- hint at a long-awaited feature launch
- mention a beloved personality
Important note: Make the reference elusive enough that casual readers don’t even notice it, and thus don’t feel left out, but true fans of your product and dedicated readers will be able to spot easily enough.
Let them watch you solve a problem
The reason we love watching crime procedurals and medical shows is the pleasure we derive from witnessing brilliant, or at the very least impressively capable, minds work.
Be it Scandal’s Olivia Pope or The Good Doctor’s Shawn Murphy, we take the crazy ride on the emotional train – first being thrown right in the middle of a challenging, almost hopeless situation, and then, after a few twists and turns, coming out the other end (more or less) victorious.
Apply this in your emails:
- share a difficulty you faced and describe how you were able to overcome it
- take on a new challenge and keep your audience in the loop about the progress you’ve made
Bringing value with your emails hasn’t been enough for years. Your reader is most likely reading your email on a mobile device (according to this Adobe Survey) and only allowing you split seconds of their attention – meaning you can’t afford to sound like a press release.
This means packaging your message in a creative and entertaining way is a must.
Use TV tricks of immersive experience, engaging characters, multiple hooks, and a problem-solving stories to keep your readers opening your messages. Make your marketing emails look and sound entertaining enough to justify the trouble of being distracted by a notification.