Everyone knows about showing not telling (ask Sara Blakely how she used a ladies room to get Spanx into Nieman Marcus). Human beings love a demonstration. But there’s a whole next level to this that warrants looking at more closely, because if you don’t, you could be undermining your credibility every time you send out an email.

Let’s take a basic (and sadly, ubiquitous) example – a hot new content start-up puts out a weekly newsletter to current clients and prospective leads to drive their B2B strategy. Their content is useful, digestible and well informed, but their hit rate is abysmal. What are they doing wrong? Their email design is fraught with code glitch and none of the links work. They’re not just losing engagement, they’re losing credibility.

Email marketing remains one of top touchpoints to reach your customers, but unless what you’re putting out there mirrors what your company stands for, you’re going to lose engagement and credibility in equal measure. Here are 5 tips to help you take your customer cred right through your email strat.

1. Be the first person to get your email

Before you hop on MailChimp and detonate that weekly email to your entire community, do a final test send to your inner circle. Honest feedback and an extra tone and sanity check before releasing it into the world can save a lot of red faces and shouting later on.

2. Be agile

Tonal consistency is just as important for driving credibility, when you’re showing not telling, as the content you produce. But that doesn’t mean your format should be. The same old type-driven email just looks like you’re not trying. If your audience thinks you’re not trying, there won’t be a second date. Throw in a video. Infographic your thoughts. Borrow with pride. Content creation is not a silo. If you rely on a team of content producers, get them talking regularly. People who share ideas and opinions daily tend to create a better team product. One voice, a thousand ways to use it.

3. Consumer need is still king. Get used to it.

By all means unfurl your content wings to include a much bigger cloud of interesting (and useful) stuff the people want to know, but when you’re playing the 80/20 game, make sure you’re not making that decision based on what you want to see. Listen to your users before you fire off another banal email about how marvellous pool noodles are to an audience looking for an Apple Watch.

4. Make your community manager president

Because a good community manager should be teaching everybody else in your organisation exactly how to spin that chat. First of all, a good community manager is like a ninja in a siege situation. You don’t realise how much you need them until the food runs out. Overseeing the voice, tone and tenor of your outgoing content is an excellent job to give them to make sure what’s coming out is consistent with how you want to be perceived.

5. Check your ego at the door

Anytime you’re tempted to put out a piece that fluffs up your own feathers, it makes your organisation look like an instant chump. Audiences can’t click away fast enough. Few things damage credibility more than meaningless pouting in a marketing email. What works for pigeons will not work for you.

Integrity is often touted as a key part of a business communication strategy, but it is easily missed in the daily flurry of pushing the message out in your marketing emails. You do so at your peril. Staying credible is one of the most important customer obsessions to develop. Start with this.

Wendy Shepherd,
Lecturer – Copywriting/Digital Content