6 Lessons about email from ‘How I Met Your Mother’
This is going to be Legen-wait-for-it…
I am not sure if the writers of How I met your Mother were deliberately drawing parallels between their key themes and email marketing, but applying the lessons from one of my all time favourite sitcoms with my work passion – email – has provided me with countless moments of amusement.
(Full disclosure – I own all 9 seasons and have watched every episode way too many times.)
Here are the lessons Barney Stinson and HIMYM unwittingly provide to the email marketing industry:
1. Suit Up!
This is Barney’s signature line about gaining the advantage through always being properly attired and at your best (he appears without his suit only twelve times in the entire series).
Just like Barney, we want to make sure we have the best chance to hook up! Which, in the email space, means making sure design is both creative and optimized. Presenting your best look requires attention to detail: how the email looks on different devices and where your call to action (the hook-up button) is positioned, are all important aspects of ‘suiting up’.
2. ‘New is always better’
Barney’s mantra is that he never goes back to an ex-girlfriend, because ‘new is always better’; whereas Ted continuously goes back to his ex-girlfriends with mostly disastrous results.
This lesson is about keeping your email content fresh and relevant. You have to grab the reader’s attention before you can attempt to engage them in a process (be it sales, subscription or otherwise). Because design trends evolve and people lose interest after seeing the same layout multiple times – it is vital to keep refreshing the design and targeting the content.
3. ‘Saying I love you on the first date and ‘The Lemon Law – it’s a thing’
Ted says “I love you” on his first date and it backfires spectacularly. But it does work out in the end (if you like that kind of ending).
We understand the value of the ‘Welcome Email’. It’s a way of saying “I love you” on the first date. A welcome series builds a brand relationship when the customer engagement is fresh by showing immediate appreciation of them now being a part of your brand family.
But beware! Barney’s Lemon Law says that if you don’t like the person in the first five minutes of a date, you can invoke the Lemon Law . . . and leave. Seriously, it’s a thing! If your customers invoke the Lemon Law in the first five minutes of your relationship because you get the welcome email wrong, you will struggle to get a second date.
Marshall becomes a lawyer in the series and often creates arguments that are irrefutable proof of the point he is making. This is known as getting ‘Lawyered.’
In certain countries, digital communicators must abide by different pieces of legislation, depending on the content and purpose of the message (for the acronym lovers: VAT Act, ECT Act, POPI Act). These acts govern for example: what information must be present on an electronic invoice, that consent must be received to communicate by email, and the security required to protect an individual’s personal information.
5. ‘Nothing good happens after 2am . . . ’
Ted’s mother offers the advice that one should go to bed because ‘nothing good can ever happen after 2am’.
For high open rate and click engagement, send time optimization is vital. Much research has been published about when you should send an email. However, with the world now on the move and our emails going with them across multiple device types, send time optimization depends on many factors. The only way to keep sending at the best possible time, is to keep testing the response against your objective. Who knows? You may get your best engagement on a Friday afternoon!
6. ‘The Playbook.’
Barney has a book he calls his Playbook, in which he records all the strategies he has used for hooking up with women.
A good email partner will have their own Playbook representing years of experience in digital marketing and secure document delivery. If you’re not sure whether you need an email partner – prepare yourself to recognize the signs by reading Sheryl-Lynn Collins’ article entitled ‘9 Signs you need a new digital communications partner’.
If you determine that you do need help with your digital strategy or execution- we say ‘Stop being sad and be awesome instead!’ We can dramatically increase your chances of a successful hook-up. True Story!
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