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Single or multi-story email marketing campaigns - which to use?

June 29 - 2020

Email Marketing Design 5 min read

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Mine was back in the summer. I never used to bother too much with postcards but, in a bid to have some quiet time and pause for some reflection, I decided I'd write some to my nearest and dearest even though they'd already seen most of my holiday through pictures I shared with them on WhatsApp.

It sounds obvious, but what struck me most about the postcard was the distinct lack of space to actually write anything. I love a good yarn and have been known to embellish a story or two in my day. Postcards leave little room for embellishment - particularly with my terrible handwriting. So you have to get to the point. 90%* (*this is a best guess figure) of all postcards ever sent will say: "Hello from [insert holiday destination]! We're having a lovely time, the weather's gorgeous. We did [insert generic holiday activity] yesterday and we're doing this [insert second generic activity] tomorrow. Off to enjoy the sun now. See you soon - probably before this postcard reaches you in fact!"

It's short, it's to the point, it's informative because the lack of space forces it to be and the picture on the front of the postcard has already helped set the tone and tell part of the story. Single-story or "postcard" email marketing campaigns do exactly the same things but with email marketing, you can choose what kind of campaign to send - should it just be one story or do you have lots of things you want to share with your subscribers in a multi-story format?

Let's look at the benefits of each one:

Single-story emails

Royal Crescent Postcard Email

Like the good old-fashioned postcard, these can be quick to deploy, they use imagery to help tell the story and will be focussed on one product or story with one strong, singular and compelling call to action. They have a clear objective and are often used to promote sales, offers and deals. They are also often used to promote 'exclusive' access to a sale or offer which most subscribers love.

In terms of how they look, more often than not they will be designed using the inverted triangle approach with an image and headline, a few lines of copy and a call to action button.

They work best when you have one clear message you want to send to your subscribers and, by using a single story email, you avoid this message being diluted by other irrelevant stories. And, because they can be deployed relatively quickly, they make perfect tactical campaigns that are great from everything to product launches through to welcome emails. Sometimes saying less and having the focus on one thing can be much more powerful than trying to cram a whole heap of information into one email campaign.

Multi-story emails

Moorland Garden Hotel Multi Story Email

However, there are times when saying more can be a good thing. Email campaigns with more than one story gives you the opportunity to present multiple products or stories in one place. It's also a great way of measuring what your subscribers are interested in because, with link tracking, you'll be able to see what content they engage with and what they are interested in, helping you make better editorial decisions when it comes to the content you include in your email marketing campaigns. Typically, they will include an image for each story, a teaser paragraph and a call to action. They work best when they are themed, for example an email with the subject line 'All your back-to-school needs' which includes everything parents need to buy before their kids head back to school is much more effective than a simple 'September Newsletter.'

Like long-form content in email marketing, having more than one story in your email marketing campaigns can help you tell your brand's story and give your subscribers a range of different content to engage with. They are an evolution of the traditional newsletter and still can help serve the same purpose.

Choosing the right kind of email campaign to send

Both kinds of campaigns are effective - the key to a successful email marketing strategy is knowing what to send, when to send it and who to send it to. It's rare to find brands who will just use one type of email marketing and often the best performing email marketing strategies will be those which use a combination of postcard emails and multi-story emails.

As a marketer, your job is to find out what mix will work best for you and your subscribers. If you need a team of experts to help guide you and create the perfect email marketing strategy, we'd love to help.

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