E-mail Strategies and Tactics Exposed: Saturn
In the early days of e-mail marketing, closing the e-mail database gap was a key priority. In fact, according to MarketingSherpa’s 2008 Email Marketing Benchmark Guide, more than 75 percent of e-mail marketers ranked “growing a bigger opt-in list” as a top priority in 2006.
The focus was on quantity not quality as marketers rushed to build their databases in order to take advantage of high response rates and low costs. In the boom years, a whole new industry was created to help marketers grow their lists, offering everything from co-registration and list rental programs to e-mail append.
Over time, acquisition rates slowed and marketers improved their strategies and tactics. Best practices were formed, including building contextually relevant sign-up opportunities throughout Web sites and including sample e-mails at registration points. Many of these would be boring to showcase, but I believe highlighting at least one great example of acquiring a new e-mail address is an essential part of this series.
For me, one of the best examples of acquiring an e-mail address at a critical touchpoint is a Saturn program I encountered some time ago. It was very innovative and combined technology with good, old-fashioned sales. While it’s a bit ironic that my best-in-class example for acquisition is a GM brand — which recently filed for bankruptcy — it's not at all shocking. Some of the best marketing done today is from brands facing adversity. I guess adversity is really the mother of all invention.
The Right Stuff
So what makes the Saturn program and others like it so special and effective?
∗ Contextually relevant. On key product pages, several clicks into the site, visitors are presented with a dialogue box and have an opportunity to chat live with a Saturn Online Consultant. This is a critical touchpoint opportunity, and Saturn leverages it brilliantly.
∗ Effective. This is a program that captured an e-mail address but perhaps more importantly helped move the visitor through the purchase process.
∗ Follow-through. Although recipients were encouraged to contact the Saturn Test-Drive Program Headquarters if they had any questions, Saturn failed to include a simple opt-in box at the end of the chat session or in the follow-up communication. This defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? And, it's an important lesson to be learned.
In the end, it is all about execution. What the Saturn example shows us is that every touchpoint is an opportunity, and to grow your e-mail database, you'll need to make it an integral part of your strategy up front.
Michael Della Penna is co-founder and executive chairman of The Participatory Marketing Network, an industry association dedicated to helping marketers transition from push and permission marketing to participatory marketing. Reach Michael at email@example.com.