Best practices for Email Marketing
Business use of email has increased dramatically the past 2 years, with many workers checking their email constantly throughout the day. A study from the Gartner Group showed that 42% of users check their business e-mail even while on vacation, and 23% check it on weekends. During the workweek, 32% check their e-mail constantly throughout the day, and 53% check their e-mail six or more times a day. This is the good news.
The bad news is estimates that by 2005 the average e-mail recipient will receive 1,600 commercial e-mail messages, as well as 4,000 other e-mails in their inbox. How do marketers cut through the clutter?
Permission boosts response rates. Give the client the perception that they are in control of the messages they are receiving.
Target your messages
Not only do you generate better response for the initial mailing, it builds credibility with clients so that they will read future e-mail. The main point is to avoid e-mail fatigue.
Whether sending content or promotional info, don’t send fluff. Make sure your copy is well written.
Where possible segment your list and personalize according to your client’s profile, to add personalization beyond simply addressing them by name. For example, if you have five types of clients, use “dynamic personalization” to customize your feature/benefit points to the client (e.g. Law Librarians vs. Legal Secretaries).
Monitor and limit quantity and frequency of mailings
General guide for frequency is one email message a month to stay in the client’s mind, and max once every two weeks. This guideline is only for marketing email, and doesn’t include other customer service or confirmation emails you might be sending. Other factors impact your client’s tolerance, such as the level of relationship they have with you, how many other marketing communications they receive through mail, advertising, etc. If you can’t control other messages, at least be aware of the risk of email fatigue, and keep those messages targeted!
Fitting E-Mail into your Marketing Mix
Speed, ease of response, and cheap production costs make e-mail ideal for:
customer relationship communications (e.g. a newsletter)
relationship-building customer service e-mails
It can also really boost response when used in conjunction with your other communication vehicles, such as PR, advertising, postal mail, or telemarketing. Email excels in offering levels of personalization and segmentation that can be cost-prohibitive with print.
Comparison of E-Mail vs. Postal Direct Mail
Strengths of e-mail:
Speed of response – find out how your campaign is doing within hours instead of weeks
Reduced production time
Increased testing capabilities
Potentially more cost-effective than print
Ability to track every single action and tie it back to a single user
Ability to increase campaign reach through forwarded email (tell-a-friend or viral marketing)
Can create dialogue with your customer
Easiest and quickest way to get customers to come to your site to fill in your database (vs. collecting paper forms and business reply cards).
Weaknesses or Differences:
Up to 50-80% of response is generated within 48 hours and up to 90% within a week. Compare to postal campaigns where it can take two months to receive 85% of response, with peak response typically in week three and four. However, some marketers are finding customers hanging on to their emails, especially newsletters, and generating up to 20% of their responses two to four months later.
Like postal mail, a targeted, opt-in list is the key to response, but seems even more important with email. Whereas postal campaigns one can argue the importance of list, offer and creativity is balanced, with email it is still weighted to your list and offer. With the increase of spam, expect your customers and subscribers to demand better creativity to cut through the clutter. Bad creativity can kill response. Read on for details.
Planning your email campaign
Just as important as the actual email and offer itself, you need to plan the following:
Where do you want recipients to go when they get your email? Do you need to design a landing page?
If you are designing a specific campaign, then, yes, you want to create a landing page for them that reinforce the offer and encourage them to close an appointment. Coordinate your landing page with your email, i.e. use the same design, wording, etc. Continue the copy started in your email. Repeat the promotion and your call to action.
Where will replies be sent? Who will respond to them? What questions could be answered in the email instead of making clients ask for information?
Is there any information in the email that could not be forwarded to a recipient – e.g. a special offer only for that group of clients? If so, be sure any specifics are covered in the email.