Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wake up and Send More Email

Social media is all the rage these days and I’m in complete agreement that it should be part of your campaigns but let’s not overlook the power of email and how it’s being underutilized by many organizations today. From conversations that I have with marketers I sometimes sense this feeling of anxiety when I recommend that they should increase the frequency of emails that are sent to their opted-in database. This fear stems from a number of different sources and I typically hear the following:

  • We don’t have anything good to send to our database
  • We don’t have any time-sensitive events that we need to promote
  • We’re sending too many emails already
  • We need to cleanse our database first before executing campaigns

Too Many EmailsDon’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should go and carpet bomb your database with a press release on how your company now has an office in the North Pole to service the growing northern population. On the other hand, what you may find is that there are opportunities to send more relevant and timely email communications to certain segments of your database. Let’s take a closer look at these sources of fear when it comes to pulling the email trigger to help marketers break free from their “email frequaphobia”.

”We don’t have anything good to send to our database”

There is an inherent issue with this statement. When the marketer says “we don’t have anything good to SEND to our database”, they assume that the marketer is defining how and when the buyer should receive information. In today’s B2B purchase process, the marketer is no longer in charge. The marketer needs to make educational materials that will guide the prospect along the buyer’s journey as they progress through the evaluation stages to the eventual product purchase. If this is not done, there is a greater chance that leads will leak out of the sales and marketing funnel and may go to the competition.

Therefore, marketing organizations can no longer use this statement as a crutch. What is recommended is to map out the content that prospective buyers would be interested in at various stages of the sales process and automate the delivery of this communication. In terms of having the necessary content, many organizations may be surprised at the content that they already possess. Review your website and other sources such as blogs and previous campaigns and look at ways that content can be repurposed (I talk more about this here: The Recession is Here - Time to Become an Eco-Marketer). If the email content is relevant based on a prospect’s recent behaviors, then increased frequency becomes a non-issue. Yes, these initiatives will require resources to prepare the content as well to set up these types of campaigns but it is well worth it – trust me. You can also take advantage of technology to at least help with the campaign execution piece. My recommendation is to start small and show results and then build on that momentum.

“We don’t have any time-sensitive events that we need to promote”

This statement is very similar to the first section. Just because you’re not presenting at tradeshows or executing monthly webinars doesn’t mean that your database should not be receiving regular communication from you. Here are a few campaign ideas to consider when thinking about providing relevant and engaging content via email:

  • Email newsletters. This tried and true communication piece will work as long as the content is good (i.e. more educational than promotional)

  • Welcome Program to ramp up new email subscribers on the resources available to them. See: Ready to Welcome Your New Leads?
  • Lead Nurturing Programs for leads that are currently evaluating your product or services
  • Longer term lead nurturing programs for leads that have been passed back to marketing
  • Reengagement Programs. These are programs that target leads that are associated to stalled opportunities or contacts in your marketing database that are no longer responding to your emails.
  • Additional event triggered communication. For example, I describe how you can engage web visitors that have searched for something on your website but couldn’t find what they’re looking for:
  • Customer communications. This may include emails for new clients, timely product usage information, regular tips and tricks and renewal notices. It all depends on your type of business but I’m sure there are not many companies that couldn’t improve in this area.
  • Social media highlights. If you have a blog, Twitter account and/or YouTube channel, consider blending the best content from these different sources into an email that can be shared by your email subscribers. Don’t assume that just because you tweet that people read it. Use email as the glue to your social media efforts to get the most out of your social media content. Consider adding RSS feeds from these channels directly to your emails (an oldie but goodie: Latest Trends in Email Marketing: RSS and Calendar Reminders).

Part of this effort is creating a lead nurturing culture in organizations which I’ve outlined here: How To Build a Lead Nurturing Culture Part I.

“We’re sending too many emails already”

    You may have this gut feeling that your sending too many emails to your database and that if you keep sending emails that your subscribers will call it quits. This issue tends to generate even more hysterics in larger organizations. The first thing you need to do is to get a handle on how many emails that you're actually sending. You should be able to get a sense of he average number of emails that the majority of your database is receiving within a given time. If your data is telling you that the majority of your database only received 2-3 emails within a three month time period, there may be an opportunity to send relevant content to your database to keep them engaged and maintain the brand awareness that helped get these subscribers in your database to begin with.

    Make sure you can easily obtain this type of email frequency information and monitor it regularly. What you don’t want to have happen is create a multitude of automated programs and the realize that a proportion of your database is in fact receiving too much email. For more information on this topic, see: What’s the [Email] Frequency Kenneth?

    “We need to cleanse our database first before executing campaigns”

    Ok, your database is a bit of a mess and it’s taking time to clean it up. Guess what – you’re always going to have some data issues. Your database will never be perfect. Don’t use that as an excuse to not start on a simple nurturing program to a specific segment ( for example: a specific industry) or creating a welcome program.

    In addition, you can even use automated email programs to collect more information regarding your subscribers over time which can help clean up your database. In fact, when you start sending out regular email campaigns, you’ll soon see who in your database truly wants to hear from you based on the digital body language that these subscribers are exhibiting.

    Keep this in mind: The more you wait before you execute your campaigns, the more stale your database gets. Don’t let this happen to you. Start thinking about what you can do to increase the number of quality interactions that you can have with your database via email. Break free from email frequaphobia and leave your competition in the dust.

    Chad H

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    Anonymous said...

    The second-best time is now! No talk, just work with the data. Good post.

    Anonymous said...

    very interesting read...

    ellipsis dive said...

    Good detailed article. The art is not in bulk email but rather in sending targeted quality emails with customized messages.



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