Business Insight: The big three you need for EDM success revealed

Published 4 February 2019
Make your electronic direct mail (EDM) more effective There are three vital elements to make your electronic direct mail (EDM) more effective

Article written by Lorraine Gordon, Director Strategic Projects at Southern Cross University

Engaging with your stakeholders is more than just a digital yell into hyperspace.  There are three vital elements to make your electronic direct mail (EDM) more effective: brevity, regularity and usefulness.

The aim of any EDM is to attract new participants, convert their interest into deeper engagement and then to offer premium content, typically – but not always – monetised. That pathway would be familiar to anyone working in business development.

The same model was used to create a stunningly successful e-publication produced monthly by the Farming Together program, a $13.8m Federal Government-funded program delivered by Southern Cross University.  In two years Farming Together’s e-bulletin has grown to a 10,000+ ‘yes-please’ readership.  From January 2017 to December 2018 it recorded 154,881 total opens, or nearly 75% of the 207,104 total receivals.

Those figures represent unprecedented engagement levels across a national readership of a demographic that is notoriously difficult to reach. Farmers are rarely inside; even more rarely at a desk.  The National Farmers Federation has reported lower literacy levels among farmers, compared with the rest of Australia’s population, and ABS data reveals farmers have less digital access.

Faced with these challenges, we designed a customised monthly stakeholder engagement tool that became the first of its kind nationally – possibly internationally. The e-bulletin garnered people who were keen to support Farming Together’s aim of increasing the number of co-operatives and collaborations among Australia’s primary producers.

Brevity, regularity and usefulness … you will notice that list doesn’t include digital sugar-hits such as whizz-bang graphics, interactive platforms or animated content. Let’s look at the three basic tools you need to produce bulletins with bite.

Brevity: It’s a privilege to have a reader’s concentration, but you probably won’t have that focus beyond the average 11.1 seconds of email readership, as recorded by analytics firm Litmus in 2016. Not only is less more, it’s more exacting on your writing skills and your visualisation/story-telling techniques. Hone those and honour your audience by not wasting their time.

Regularity: You’re entering a relationship with your reader/stakeholder when you launch an e-bulletin. Commit to a publication date, make it public and then keep it.

Usefulness: Turn the mirror around. Rather than thump your own tub, make the content reflect stakeholders’ interests/aspirations and report all things from their perspective. This will drive readership deeper into your document, make the engagement memorable and forge precious shared values.

As the Farming Together program shifts into a new phase, it is developing the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance – a major national initiative to bring conservation principles into conventional farming practices. To subscribe and stay up to date email

This article originally appeared in the Business Insight section of the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper and is for general information purposes only.

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or