Top 12 issues your directors should know about eMail marketing

#1. eMail is used by all types of organisations

Over a decade into the internet revolution, you would think that eMail marketing would now be acknowledged as a valuable asset, even by company directors. This assumption is made at your own risk. Its better to demonstrate email’s acceptance in the language that your directors understand – numbers.

eMail is the most widely used internet-based communication channel and it’s the cornerstone of viral marketing. A few facts are worth pointing out:

Sending and reading eMail remains is the #1 activity on the internet 99% of internet users say they use eMail 96% of internet users check their eMail weekly or more 60% of internet users checked their eMail yesterday

There is simply no other internet-based, one-to-one communication strategy with the adoption rate, reach, and usage that eMail enjoys.

#2. eMail Is cost-effective

There is also no other marketing medium as cost-effective as eMail.

With pay per click for example, you have to rent keywords. With direct mail, you have to pay for printing and postage. With eMail, you can cost-effectively use your own data to build your own proprietary list of subscribers who are interested in your products and services.

Remember, your eMail subscribers are a company asset that no competitor can reproduce. Even better, eMail lets you communicate with subscribers through a direct, internet-based medium that is very affordable and provides instant delivery.

Today’s??s tough worldwide economy demands that marketers look more closely at the ROI of their marketing campaigns. In times like these, eMail continues to be an excellent investment. It offers a highly-engaging, customisable, highly-targeted medium to strengthen customer relationships, produce sales, and improve brand recognition.

What is there not to like about eMail?

#3. eMail is profitable

The US Direct Marketing Association??s annual survey has revealed that eMail marketing provides the highest ROI of any direct marketing tactic â?? whether itâ??s online or offline.

In its 2008 survey, the DMA (USA) found that eMail generated £30 for every pound spent. That’s an ROI of over twice that of any other online marketing tactic surveyed.

The possible danger of sharing emails ROI with your company directors is that they may see it as a justification to send out unwanted eMail, instead of more permission-based, focused eMail. Emphasise to your directors that aMail is not direct mail.

The eMail inbox is not a postbox – its a far more personal space. eMail subscribers dictate the terms of their marketing relationship with you. Unfocused, mass mailing is not a valid strategy – its a recipe for subscriber revolt and delivery problems.

Better ROI comes from developing a long-term eMail marketing strategy, designed to build relationships. eMail is superb for customer retention and lead nurturing. Once your directors understand that eMail ROI is tied to subscriber satisfaction, they will be more inclined to accept your long-term marketing communication strategies.

#4. eMail must be permission-based

It’s worth continuing to emphasise to your directors that the inbox is not the postbox. Many recipients will simply use the delet button to purge unwanted eMails. Worse than that scenario, aggrieved recipients can hit the “Report Spam” button and potentially block your company from sending any eMail to other recipients at that domain.

A recent survey by MarketingSherpa and Q Interactive found that 48% of those who use the “Report Spam” button do so for reasons other than the regulatory definition of unsolicited commercial eMail. Instead, they use a perception-based definition based on dissatisfaction.

 You must convey to your directors that the majority of subscribers will lump all of the following complaints into the spam category:

eMail that is not requested eMail with irrevelant or uninteresting content eMail that is sent out too frequently

If your company does not respect subscriber preferences like content and frequency, it will be treated like a spammer, and it will suffer impaired eMail deliverability and declining ROI.

Here’s how to treat your subscribers:

Treat subscribers individually Respect each subscriber’s unique preferences like content and frequency Provide them with timely, relevant content that meets their needs

An eMail strategy that incorporates this subscriber philosophy will avoid the spam button and help develop meaningful, long-term customer relationships.

#5. eMail needs data integration

As you explain the detail of eMail marketings high ROI to your directors, you will inevitably need to cover the two important subjects of resource allocation and data integration. Unfortunately, this is where the cost-effective nature of eMail can work against you.

In a recent survey Maximizing Routes to Revenue (a CMO Council survey from 2008), over 70% of marketers surveyed felt they were not realising the full revenue potential of their current customers.

Consider a website development project for example  it’s well understood that there will be significant third-party costs including software, creative design, development, testing, and maintenance. Consequently, significant resources are allocated to this type of campaign.

eMail marketing, on the other hand, is often a small line-item near the bottom of a marketing budget. While eMails ROI far outpaces every other medium, spending on it often lags behind, because it is seen as a retention vehicle with deployment costs far lower than other marketing tools.

Experienced eMail marketers will understand that eMail deployment is actually only a small part of the investment required. The other key components are:

Personnel:employing knowledgeable eMail marketing experts committed to building long-term results Data Integration:investing time and human resources in a strategy that brings website, CRM, and response data together to make eMail interactions more relevant, personal, and timely

In these budget-conscious times, the good news is that you may already have the human resources in place. What is needed is a long-term strategy to integrate customer intelligence to enable more timely and relevant one-to-one communications in the future.

You will need to get your IT and CRM teams on side. Thorough integration can eliminate deliverability problems and cut down on IT’s burden by empowering the marketing department with easier access to relevant data.

With your IT and CRM teams working together, youâ??ll be in a better position to demonstrate to your directors that data integration can provide significant, long-term benefits that go far beyond eMail marketing on its own, and that eMail should be seen as an integral component of the much larger IT and CRM strategies.

#6. eMail is personal

With your organisation’s data integration in place, you will then be able to incorporate segmentation and personalisation into your eMail marketing campaigns. The four R’s are essential:

The Right message The Right person The Right time The Right channel

A 2008 CMO Council Survey, Maximizing Routes to Revenu reported that 60 % of marketers surveyed are introducing better segmentation, profiling and targeting strategies, while 49% plan to add or improve database marketing systems and 30% intend to acquire new analytics capabilities to better target and engage.

When explaining this to your directors, it’ss essential to demonstrate that personalisation is far more than simply beginning your eMail with, Dear John…It’s all about using the information that your subscribers have shared with you, and combining this with data you already have from CRM systems and previous online interactions. This will enable you to deliver content that is consistent with their particular needs and interests.

Examples of eMail personalisation include:

Providing account status information Tailoring content based on preferences Populating content based on browsing history Reducing eMail frequency based on subscriber requests

The above points represent some of the highest ROI eMail marketing strategies available today. The use of greater segmentation and personalisation is a proven way to increase spend and ongoing customer retention. Both are excellent goals to achieve in the current economic climate.

#7. eMail is immediate

One attribute of eMail that often gets neglected is its immediacy – your eMail is delivered almost instantaneously to every recipient. The eMail medium offers companies an instant channel to manage unforeseen crises and enables them to exploit opportunities as soon as they appear.

To take advantage of eMails immediacy takes two things:

Permission to send the eMail A detail-oriented team with a rapid-broadcast mentality.

Its worth emphasising that permission-based eMail subscribers are often your most loyal, return customers. Maintaining happy, engaged subscribers should be an important part of any company’s marketing plans. If an issue should suddenly arise, your most engaged and committed customers need to be contacted quickly.

The second point is that a â??rapid-broadcast mentality is required. Once you hit the send button, you can’t recall your eMail message the horse has bolteb. This differs from other forms of advertising where there is a production window in which your campaign can be amended or even cancelled. This is also different to the traditional launch and fixwebsite development philosophy.

Why is this rapid-broadcast mentality important? Because few marketers can take the pressure or have the attention to detail that eMail marketing requires. You will need to identify and retain staff (or an external agency like eMarket2) who have these attributes.

A long-term eMail marketing strategy requires committed and passionate people to execute it. This sort of talent is worth its weight in gold in today’s economic environment where customer retention is vital.

#8. eMail is now accessed using mobiles

The iPhone (and similar mobiles) are revolutionising internet access, with eMail, websites, interactive maps, and search engines available on the move.

Thanks to Apple’s decision to delay multimedia messaging (MMS) capabilities, eMail is the main way that iPhone users share photos, videos, and links.

With the increasing use of smartphones for business, mobility and eMail access now go hand-in-hand. It’s now critical to determine if your subscribers are using mobiles for eMail and web access.

If they do, you must offer mobile-friendly versions of eMail messages. The investment of time will result in much better responses from your mobile eMail users.

#9 eMail is extremely flexible

Remind your directors that eMail is the most flexible marketing communication channel ever developed. Consider for a moment these 30 different ways that organisations can, and do use eMail:

Product releases Affiliate communications Lead nurturing Order confirmations Contests Loyalty club Sale notifications Monthly statements Service updates Customer service News alerts Shipping notices Drip campaigns Newsletters Store openings Event notifications Product alerts Upsell messaging Abandoned cart notifications Franchise communications Product recalls Account alerts Invitations Corporate communications Membership renewals Satisfaction surveys Coupons Membership rewards Service reminders Cross-sell messaging

The overall use of eMail communications within an organisation encompass far more than simply eMail marketing messages. With todayâ??s eMail marketing technology (eg eMarkets eMail systems) companies can aggregate, optimise and measure their overall eMail communications across the entire organisation.

If your company is for example, still sending out untrackable, text eMail order confirmations, then it’s time to move to a single-platform eMail system. This will not only enable you to use eMail in all its different forms, but it will also provide you with the statistics you need to justify further data integration.

#10. eMail is easily measurable

In today’s results-motivated marketing environment, eMail is popular because itâ??s measurable – you get immediate feedback on who is receiving, opening, and responding to your eMail messages.

The integration of web analytics with eMail is a powerful means of optimising ROI. Companies that use real-time performance data to optimise their eMail content will separate themselves from their competitors.

By using web analytics solutions from providers such as Omniture, WebTrends, and CoreMetrics, organisations can easily track the post-click behaviour of their eMail subscribers. This creates vital data that can be used to assess the ROI of an individual eMail campaign. It will also aid future eMail segmentation and personalisation.

The only way to find out if eMail is returning the best ROI or if itâ??s helping to retain customers is to examine your data in detail.

#11. eMail is NOT spam

There’s always a director somewhere who say “all eMail is spam”, simply because they get so much of it in their inbox. There”s no question that spam is and always will be a problem. However, if you respect your subscribers permission and send only relevant, timely, and requested eMails, THIS IS NOT SPAM.

If your doubting director isn”t convinced, point out that prospects continue to give their permission to communicate with them via eMail. B2B prospects and customers continue to prefer eMail for:

Order confirmations and “a thank you” messages Financial alerts Account status updates Permission-based promotional eMails Polls and surveys about recognised companies

All spam in the inbox may be eMail, but not all eMail in the inbox is spam. With eMail, you should be embarking into a one-to-one environment requiring careful listening to customers to achieve smarter and more effective relationship marketing.

#12. eMail represents the future

Hopefully, your directors will now no longer be pushing you to blast out eMails and they will value the company’s eMail list among the most important marketing assets. However, they might also start to ask you about SMS (text messaging), behavioural targeting, and other new forms of one-to-one marketing. They want to be a”get with it” in terms of the latest marketing methods.

Take the opportunity to encourage your executives enthusiasm and point out that new tactics like SMS have even more stringent standards and gatekeepers than eMail. With eMail, thereâ??s no mass medium to control, only millions of individual conversations to join.

Conclusion

The winners will be those companies who incorporate Best Practice eMail marketing, in particular adhering to the â Four R’s – the Right message, sent to the Right person at the Right time, using the Right channel

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