Email works, right? It boasts one of the best ROIs out there -- approximately $40 for each $1 spent -- and research shows that in 2012, 92 percent of executives surveyed planned to maintain or increase email marketing budgets.
The question is: if you're operating on the same emails strategy you have for years, what's the point?
If all you're doing is throwing a dart at the board blindly, hoping it'll hit the bull's eye, why spend more money? To buy more darts? Today too many big companies, looking to make every penny count , do email marketing all wrong, focusing too much on acquiring more email addresses and forgetting there are actual people behind those names with different wants, needs, interests, and expectations.
If you've been using the same email strategy since you had an Earthlink account, declare an end to batch-and-blast email process and say "hello" to a more effective email strategy, empowered by consumer behaviors and changes in the industry. To turn your email campaigns into winning experiences, your mantra for the immediate future should be: triggers, tailoring, and togetherness.
"Get'em while they're hot" is a helpful focus for email marketers. There's no better time to make a sale then when someone has recently shown interest in your company's product. Trigger messaging -- messages automatically sent based on a customer's action as part of their larger experience -- can help increase your conversion rate into the double digits. These campaigns are easy to set up and almost effortless to maintain. They also add an extra level of service to your customer base.
All you need to do to hear opportunity knock is look for the other parts of the audience's experience that prompt smart outreach.
Some trigger campaigns are welcome emails, sent to someone who has just opted in to your company's communications; abandoned cart emails, sent to someone who hasn't completed a transaction; confirmation emails, sent to someone who has completed a transaction; even emails sending along birthday wishes. All of these create value-added experiences for your customer and additional sales opportunities.
For welcome emails, inform your customer of what to expect from your company. Drive them to your company's website, creating an incentive for first-time purchases. For abandoned cart emails, urge them to return to the site and complete their transaction. Confirmation emails should do more than confirm the order: Offer additional items that may spark their interest (e.g., "customers who bought this also purchased X") to entice them to make another purchase while their credit card is out. For birthday emails, include an incentive to encourage a purchase. (And maybe remind them how young they look. That's for kindness vs. effectiveness.)
Over time you'll begin to set a benchmark for testing. For example, for abandoned cart emails, maybe including a 5 percent, 10 percent, or 20 percent discount will show improved success in returning and completing their purchase?
Today's consumer is intelligent and busy, demanding communications tailored to them. In order to meet that demand there are a number of ways to personalize your communications for both new and existing customers.
The start to composing strong, customer-focused communications is to create a well thought out preference center that allows you to collect important information about your email list.
More than just getting an individual's name, a preference center provides a starting point to create dynamic communications customized to their personalities, interests and needs.
Make sure every question asked relates to a way that you will split your list. Don't waste their time asking for useless information. Be to-the-point, clear and concise, avoiding too many questions that will cause them to drop off before completing the form.
Some industry-specific examples of information that can help create better-targeted communications and boost engagement are retail (gender, style-type, age); entertainment (event interests or genres across music, sports, theater, film); financial (spending habits, yearly income, marital/family status) and the lists go on.
Offer frequency options. One who likes receiving daily flash sale emails may not like receiving daily upgrade emails from her credit card company. Offering a number of communication options (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly) puts your customer in control while decreasing list attrition.
Avoid going overboard with segmentation. Five segments or less is good enough to provide a tailored experience for the email recipient.
Now that you've collected data points, what's next? Many successful email marketers work within designed templates, broken up into changeable sections ("modules") that are determined by a customer's preferences and demographics.
Too many companies have siloed marketing initiatives. This is counterproductive to the overall goals of any organization, causing extra dollars spent in the wrong ways, and it's horrible for customer experience. Email should not be siloed any more than any other part of your marketing efforts. It's too closely tied to every other element of your plans in ways you may not have recognized.
Tag-team with all other channels who also contact your email list to create integrated, multi-touch campaigns that focus on the customer experience.
Have a sale approaching? Send out a direct mail piece, followed up by a reminder email during the sale letting them know there are only a few days left.
Launching a new investing package? After an email is sent out, create a priority calling list for the inside sales team, reflecting people who opened the email and clicked but didn't purchase.
For any initiative, make sure that there is consistency with look and tone. Your customer should feel that they are speaking with one brand, not a number of different people.
And there you have it. Three simple steps on the path to amplified effectiveness: Triggers to engage behaviors in a timely manner; tailoring to account for consumers as the people they are; and togetherness to evolve your digital marketing model. And of course, the most important thing of all: the willingness to defy what's worked well enough to achieve what could be working better.
Opportunity is in your inbox. Reply.
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"One, two, three" image via Shutterstock.