Many moons ago, before I joined the WhatCounts team, I was actually a WhatCounts client, working in the travel and tourism world. About eight or nine months into my tenure at that past life, we were having some engagement issues with one of our newsletters, so I had a phone call with my Strategic Account Manager, Sean McGarry (who is still with WhatCounts today), to discuss ways we could turn our email marketing program up to 11. We discussed it from every angle, looking at micro- and macro-level factors, but one piece of advice he gave me immediately stuck in my mind, and it’s shaped my career as a marketer ever since: “Just get weird with it, man.”
Sean wasn’t telling me to start writing emails in Sanskrit or sending them with a From address of Bugs Bunny, of course. What he was telling me was to not be afraid to mix things up a bit, to just try little things here and there, to throw spaghetti noodles at the wall and see what stuck.
It’s commonly believed that you should send your newsletters either around the lunch hour or in the mid-afternoon, because that’s when people are taking a break at their desks or wrapping up for the day. (I know that my inbox explodes around 10 or 11 a.m. Eastern Time.) But that’s conventional wisdom, and sometimes conventional wisdom isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on – if everyone’s sending their newsletters around the lunch hour or in the mid-afternoon, isn’t the inbox only going to be more cluttered, meaning your chances of being noticed as someone triages their inbox on their phone get even smaller? Instead, try a 168-hour metered send and see what day and time works for you.
If you’re having trouble getting engagement with your brand, just get a little weird with how you’re promoting yourself. Some readers may remember a webinar we presented in January, introducing viewers to the brand-new WhatCounts Publicaster Edition user interface. I happened to be working in my home office on that day, and at one point during the webinar, one of my cats wandered over and made his presence known … loudly. Immediately, a flood of questions came into the GoToWebinar Q&A panel: “Is that a cat?” “Do you have a cat on the marketing team?” “Is he your mascot?”
It evolved into a running joke on the WhatCounts marketing team, and now we’re at the point that people are asking us on social media when the “Marketing Cat” is going to make his next appearance. Sometimes, a happy accident rolls along – don’t be afraid to just run with it and see what happens.
Ultimately, you aren’t going to win by doing what everyone else is doing. The signal-to-noise ratio is ridiculous nowadays, and the attention spans just aren’t there. Instead of following the leader and taking your examples from others … just get weird with it.
Inbound Marketing Manager, WhatCounts