Evanne Schmarder

Evanne Schmarder is a columnist for Woodall’s Campground Management. She is the creator of the RV industry’s first Digital Marketing Workshop – www.DigitalMarketingWorkshop.info. She’s also the owner of Roadabode Productions – outdoor hospitality communication consultants specializing in digital marketing strategy, social media program development, seminar facilitation, educational presentations, business writing services and the producer and host of the RV Cooking Show. Contact Evanne at evanne@roadabode.com or (702) 460-9863 or visit her online at her B2B site, www.roadabode.com, or her B2C site, www.RVCookingShow.com.

Want to know how to get your e-mail marketing message read? It’s part art and part science. In this second installment of our E-mail Marketing is Dead! series we’ll concentrate on the art portion of the equation, what I like to call e-mail royalty – the king and queen: content and relevancy.

Begin by developing an editorial calendar. What topics do your readers want and need to know? Consider breaking news, ways for them to save and still enjoy your offerings, seasonality and local happenings. Just like you plan your marketing year, you need to plan your e-mail editorial calendar.

Your job as an e-mail marketer is to deliver value by providing your e-mail subscribers content that is interesting, valuable and so importantly, relevant. Let’s face it, no matter how visually appealing your design or catchy your subject line, if your readers aren’t interested in what you have to say they are not going to read it. Period.

So what topic ideas might be beneficial to your recipients? Depending on the type of missive you are sending – an e-newsletter, a special offer e-mail blast, an information update e-mail, etc. – you’ll always want to provide value in exchange for their time. Consider sharing:

  • theme events/local happenings
  • stay specials/money saving promotions
  • camp/resort/business upgrades
  • volunteer/guest/customer recognition
  • tips and tricks on how to use your product or service
  • information on how to watch newly released videos
  • message from the owner/manager
  • contests/reader response items
  • group/rally invitations
  • general park/area/local attraction news

When developing content for your e-mail communication, remember to:

  • write in a friendly, conversational tone
  • keep your content fresh and relevant
  • avoid punctuation, spelling, grammar and other errors
  • be brief and to the point
  • place most important info on top
  • use your business’s name frequently
  • proof, proof, proof

A Few Tricks of the Trade

As you develop each missive, keep in mind that a tremendously important and clear indicator of relevance is your subject line. In fact, your subject line will most likely determine whether your e-mail is opened or deleted. Craft a concise subject line (don’t be misleading – it’s the law) that encourages readers to open your message. Always send your e-mail “from” the same recognizable e-mail address, for example parknews@XYZCamp.com.

Avoid using the following words in a subject line since they are considered “spammy,” may deter your message’s delivery and could very possibly hinder reader interest (a tip of the hat to George Carlin fans):

act now, all new, 50% off, earn money, double your income, you’re a winner, save up to, no cost, no fees, serious cash, join millions, you’ve been selected, excessive $ or !, million dollar opportunity, amazing cash bonus, as seen on, buy direct, get paid, please read, don’t delete, while supplies last

There’s quite a bit of debate about personalizing your messages. I’m not sure anyone really believes you sit down and personally address the e-mail blast to each recipient directly. A danger in using personalization is malfunction. Have you ever gotten an e-mail marketing message addressed to Dear: [firstname fallback=]? No kidding, I have… and from a very accomplished e-mail marketer to boot. Other times, subscribers may make a typo when subscribing or simply use a false name to join your list. In my professional opinion, it’s just not worth the risk.

Content Can-Dos

Study upon study has shown that readers especially love surveys, money saving tips and insider information. Bullet lists and calendars are very popular. Proven to be the most effective promotional words, consider sprinkling these into your headlines, subheads or body text:

you/your, new, now, how to, save, results, proven, guarantee, benefit, safe, easy, fun, health, love, money and of course – free

Pay close attention to branding your missive not only in the design of the template, but also in the use of your park’s name. Don’t overdo it, but do try to insert it at least once, conversationally, in each story.

While video is an absolute winner in many situations, including it in your e-newsletter may very well flag your missive as spam. Rather than embed a video into your e-mail, pen a catchy blurb and link to it from your missive. Not only will you be providing interesting content, you’ll be able to gauge interest in this type of thing for future issues based on e-mail statistics.

Take a little time to think about what you like and dislike about the e-mail marketing that arrives in your e-mail box. What exactly is it that encourages you to open the e-mail? What piques your interest and keeps you reading? Conversely, what deters you opening and/or engaging with a piece of e-mail marketing? It might not be a bad idea to start paying attention to what grabs you.