I sat in on a session about email marketing at the Online Marketing Summit yesterday, and wow – those folks have one difficult job. Much of the conversation was about formatting, in order to increase the likelihood that the images in the email body will render. Fact is, many email programs and company firewalls disable images, meaning that email marketers also have to pay close attention to their text messages, and there in was some good advice that that PR pros can use, too.
The speaker, Karen Talavera of @synchmarketing, addressed the change in what sort of information works in today’s campaigns, and suggested that it’s time to leave the old AIDA model of messaging for a new approach.
So you can see the differences clearly, here’s a brief outline of the AIDA model:
- A – Awareness: the message attracts the reader’s attention.
- I – Interest: the reader’s interest is piqued.
- D – Desire: the message convinces the reader they want what’s being promoted.
- A – Action: the call to action that turns the reader into a customer.
Instead, she offered a new model that I thought was pretty interesting – “IEEO” which focuses instead on educating and engaging the reader, or, as Karen put it, “Serving, not selling.” Here’s an outline:
- I – Invite – Messaging doesn’t hit the reader over the head with the offer
- E – Engage – Instead, the messaging engages the reader, serving up multimedia and related information
- E – Educate/entertain – The overall tone is educational and/or entertaining – it’s not the hard sell
- O – Offer – Instead of “buy now” the call to action is presented in an offer that is relevant to and fits with the overall tone of the message.
The IEEO approach is radically different than the traditional AIDA method. The newer approach incorporates and is informed by customer needs, and relies upon education rather than desire to inspire the reader to take action.
However, we’re talking about an approach to email marketing. Those communications are designed to immediately capture reader attention, and convert the reader from prospect to purchaser in the space of one message.
While most press releases aren’t intended to generate sales directly, there’s no question that they have to compete for attention, and within most press releases are various calls to action – just like marketing emails. Awareness-building has been a core function of press releases since time immemorial. However, as I considered the IEEO approach to email messaging, I started to wonder if we could generate more value from press releases – for both the issuer and readers – by borrowing some tactics from email marketing. Is generating awareness enough for us, or should we be crafting press releases and other PR content with the goal of engaging and educating our readers – and guiding them to a specific call to action – within the press releases we issue, and the other content we publish?
Follow the tweet stream at #OMSummit for ongoing commentary from the Online Marketing Summit this week.
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.