The Marketing Magic of E-mail: Nine Ways to Make It Work For You
Marketing guru Chris Baggott, author of “Email Marketing by the Numbers” offers some insights to help you make the most of your e-mail marketing.
Stay out of the spam folder. The same things that make e-mail valuable to you also make it valuable to spammers. There is a lot of bad e-mail out there, and if your message gets lumped in with the trash, it will mean ruined constituent relationships for you. And you don’t have to sell questionable sexual enhancement products to be labeled a spammer. Even trustworthy organizations can abuse e-mail.
Get your recipients to act. One of the most glaring issues for e-mail marketers is dwindling engagement. For whatever reason, people who at one point opted-in by opening e-mails and purchasing through them have stopped engaging. To solve this problem, look at the four factors that influence an e-mail’s success—past behavior, relevancy, frequency and creative strength.
Build a killer database. To leverage the benefits of e-mail segmentation, you need a good database. And to build a good database, you need to understand what data is going to drive your business and e-mail marketing programs. There are three ways to collect e-mail addresses for your databases without alienating your constituents: online e-mail collection, offline (physical location e-mail collection), or B-to-B/networking/real-world registration.
Find the best recipients. When you have something relevant to say, you must say it to the right individuals. Segmentation is your answer. It’s one of the most effective ways to boost engagement and prevent list fatigue. It lets you identify individuals with similarities, allowing you to develop messages that are likely to be relevant to these select portions of your audience.
Find or create relevant content. Creating the right content for you all comes down to what works for your business and what will provide value to your constituents. Often the word content is synonymous with worry for marketers. There are budget fears, resource fears, and time constraint fears. The good news is there are several easy ways to create relevant content for your messages, and they won’t necessarily require more work. For example, you can use information from your Web site, utilize third-party content and tap into professional copywriters.
Use analytics that matter. Once upon a time, you couldn’t tell which parts of your marketing effort worked and which didn’t. That truth is outdated. By paying attention to analytics such as your deliverability rates, open rates, click-through rates and unsubscribe rates, you now have the power to know exactly what’s happening and why it’s happening. In fact, you can apply a return on investment amount to every single e-mail marketing activity.
Put your messages to the test. In today’s high-tech world, it’s easy to find out which elements of your messages are more likely to work before you commit your entire database or segment. There are two ways to test: A/B and multivariate. A/B will require you to pull two random samples. You’ll then send out a message where only one element is different—a subject line, for example—and look at results to see which subject line encouraged the most recipients to open the e-mail. The winner is then mailed to the remainder of the audience. Multivariate testing involves simultaneously testing several variables at once and measuring the net result.
Ask for feedback. In a relationship, dialog never stops. It’s impossible to know all you need to know about someone, which is why you should strive for more information on an ongoing basis. Asking is the best way to receive information directly from your constituents. Requests can be made during registration, at the point of purchase, or via a survey. The most important thing to remember is that you have to make positive changes based on the data you collect. Not using data will erode trust and perhaps prevent further participation in the future.
Triggers, transactions, and integration—What does it all mean? Triggered e-mails are automatically sent to a subscriber when an event happens—a purchase, webinar attendance, or e-mail opt-in are examples. These events, or “transactions,” are indications that a constituent is engaging with you on some level. Typically, automation and triggering entails “integration,” which is a means to seamlessly move your data from your database marketing system to your e-mail marketing system. This direct connection will enable you to sync your database of record, provide e-mail marketing from within your other systems, automate, and even syndicate content.
“E-mail is such an inexpensive and easy marketing tool to use it’s unfortunate that more companies aren’t using it effectively,” says Baggott. “I want to help people build relationships with their constituents that make them feel appreciated, unique, and valued. E-mail marketing is the way to do that. It allows you to reach out to your customers in a one-to-one, deeply personalized way that goes beyond communication or even selling. You’re actually engaging them in mutually beneficial dialog. E-mail is a revolutionary marketing tool . . . you just have to know how best to use it.”
Chris Baggott is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of ExactTarget, an e-mail marketing software firm. He is author of “Email Marketing by the Numbers: How to Use the World’s Greatest Marketing Tool to Take Any Organization to the Next Level” (Wiley, 2007, $24.95). You can visit his blog at http://exacttarget.typepad.com.