Improve Customer Relationships and Profitability With the Right E-mail Content
Generating cash flow is good, but increasing profitability is better. The combination e-mails (Group C) outperformed the control (Group A) by 117 percent. Profits from informational e-mails (Group B) beat promotional ones (Group A) by 73 percent.
Individual customer reviews provided more insight into the effect of non-promotional e-mails. Customers in Group B and Group C were more active in their response and the number of orders. Their average order was slightly lower, but they were more likely to respond.
Does this mean that every B-to-B company should scrap its promotional e-mail program? No, but it indicates that price may not be the best motivator. The only way to know what will work for your company is to test.
Here are some tips to help you create the most effective e-mail marketing program for your customers:
- Encourage recipients to reply to your messages. The customers in the test who replied to e-mails encouraging comments or questions spent more over the course of the year. Use a real e-mail address instead of the "no reply" ones that go into a black hole.
- Provide a designated contact person for top customers. Test sending e-mails personalized with that individual's address for the reply. People connect with other people better than they connect with an organization. While there may be challenges if someone leaves the company, the return more than offsets the costs.
- Invest the resources required to target your customers well. Look at the products and services they buy, their historical buying patterns, and the messages that drive response. The better you can adapt the message to the individual, the more successful the implementation.
- Include calls to action in every e-mail, regardless of type. Marketing e-mails have to require a response to be effective. Create a slippery slope that begins when the e-mail is opened and continues until the action is taken.
- The best e-mail marketing programs are a hybrid of direct marketing and social media. Use yours to create strong bonds with your customers. It'll make it impossible for your competition to lure them away.
Debra Ellis, president of Wilson & Ellis Consulting of Asheville, N.C., can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WilsonEllis.