The Art of Using Foreshadowing in Emails to Create Anticipation

Email marketing, defined as the art of sending a commercial message using email, usually to a targeted group of consumers. Although today there are also other channels of communications such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and other social media platforms, email marketing still remains one of the most effective forms of communications to achieve a positive return on investment, or more accurately, what we called ‘ROI’. 

foreshadowing in emails

And in email marketing, there’s a great strategy that little people know of. We called it foreshadowing in emails, a unique technique that you can use in your email marketing to vastly improve open rates. This technique is used most frequently on news programs and talk shows. How does it work? Easy – Every time, right before the commercial break, the hosts announces what’s coming up next, what program, which celebrity, what prizes or contests, for instance. The idea is to let your target audience know what’s the next exciting thing you’re coming up with, so that your customers are intrigued enough to sit through the commercial to see the next segment. 

Magazines also used foreshadowing – as they show images, headlines or short bullets of what’s coming in the next issue of their magazine, just so their audience are interested enough to buy the next issue or subscribe to their magazine. 

This technique can easily be adapted for email marketing. You can pique the interest of your customers towards the end of your email message, with a short snippet of what’s coming up in the next email. You don’t have to give all the details, and it’s best to be a little vague just so that your customers will be eagerly waiting for the next mail. 

For instance, if you intend to talk about the importance of email marketing and let your audience know that th next email will be about crafting subject lines to get a higher open rate, you may write something like this: “Keep an eye out for Friday’s email. We’ll talk about THE most important thing when it comes to email marketing. If you don’t get this right, nothing else matters.” To create more interest, mention this in the P.S. of your message, or if you pushes out your newsletter weekly, add in a new section called ‘What’s Coming!’, keep it simple, and use visually arresting images for best results. 

And why not bring it a step further? You can even get your subscribers to open a previously sent email, a technique that is particularly effective if you are churning out a series of email on the same topic. Mention something that you touched on in the last email, and then proceed to today’s topic, finally wrapping it up with a hint about the next email topic. 

Foreshadowing can’t be used in every single email, but you can sprinkle it here and there, giving you a lead into the next email topic, for instance “As promised…” Even readers who missed your last email will be curious to open this one. 

Finally, test it! Let me know how it works, especially if it gives you higher open rates or provides more engagement for your subscribers or readers.

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Andrew Lim

Andrew Lim

Andrew Lim is a trainer and consultant in digital marketing and content creation with over 8 years' of experience helping clients such as Citibank, Coca-Cola, Marriot group and countless others. His specialty is in using video and interactive content to generate leads and results for customers. In his spare time, he goes to the gym and is a rabbit fanatic. Write to him at [email protected]

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