Hit ‘em Where It HelpsApril 11, 2012 by Brian Handrigan
Three Keys to Email Campaign Success
Companies are always looking for better ways to leverage the Internet to both acquire and retain customers. Social Media, SEM and SEO have had all the attention lately, which is indeed warranted. However, lets not forget about Email Marketing. Email marketing is a staple in integrated marketing campaigns, and for good reason; it is inexpensive to deliver, customizable and user activities are highly track-able.
But is your content and communications strategy meeting the modern Web expectations of your customers?
Many think that most significant factors in an effective email campaign are compiling subscribers and ensuring the email content reflects your brand image. Your email communications can be much more than an update correspondence or pure sales pitch. You can use deliberate (and valuable) communications to develop an active participatory relationship that gets your customer engaged with your brand, website, and product, resulting in a loyal and active customer base.
To successfully do this, you should keep these three important keys to success in mind: 1. Relevance, 2. Action, and 3. Engagement
No matter how important your service may be to your customers, no one wants to be blatantly solicited or pandered to on a regular basis. Provide your readers with relevant information that they can use covering topics both directly and tangentially associated with your product / service and the period(s) in which they connect with you.
For example, companies that have committed to regular email communications tend to “deliver” content on their schedule. January, Feb, March content etc. This may make planning the email program more manageable, but does little to target content at the consideration, activation or use phases a customer has with you product / service. By mapping event-trigger opportunities in the consideration, activation and use of your product a customized email communications plan and content can be developed that addresses the specific needs / concerns of your audience in an appropriate way at the appropriate time.
Beyond the planning for this interaction, write content that addresses direct and indirect issues that your customer is facing at these individual trigger points and offer “real” value to them. Additionally find ways to leverage the power of most modern email campaign management systems to integrate calendar based content into your trigger campaign to promote the feeling of both situational and seasonal relevance.
Educators know that learning is more effective when accompanied by additional stimuli, such as the use of physical manipulatives when reinforcing a math concept. Engaging an email subscriber is no different. We are not suggesting that you ask your subscribers to cut out objects or do jumping jacks while reading your email; but getting them to act on something; a call to action, a link for further information, something that will engage them at a deeper level than the “Email & Pray” method that many follow.
Another interesting tactic is the “Share” (like, retweet, pin, email) approach by including in your e-mail a section that reads, “If you are finding this e-mail helpful, click here to share with a friend;” if done properly, your subscribers become more than readers, they become advocates. By providing value beyond the 4 corners of your email message alone elevates your communication from a mere one sided conversation to a supportive resource on topics important to both you and your subscriber and through the appropriate use of external links, you motivate your subscribers to keep opening your e-mail time after time as they expect to find value with each message.
As illustrated in the first two keys, it is tremendously valuable to present relevant information and be viewed as a resource to your subscribers; in this next key, we increase our value but relinquish control as we encourage our subscribers to become involved (not just with us) but with each other. Opinion polls, blogs & social media groups are means by which we can encourage peer-to-peer involvement. If we want to engage our subscribers but are concerned about directing the involvement; opinion polls and blogs can be a great first step since polls allow you to draft the question and potential answers while blogging allows you to direct topic areas and moderate comments.
The next involvement area, social media, presents bigger challenges and rewards since in a true exchange of ideas, the categories and conversation are completely outside of your control. These rules of engagement are constantly evolving and you must realize that you cannot control what is said (even if it makes you uncomfortable). The payoff for encouraging this type of involvement can be great – access to honest assessments of your products / services and insight into how vocal advocates within your target community think and act.
If you want to get a better idea of what is going on in your target market in order to decide where to get involved, you could A) conduct a web search (which would provide more information than most can process) or B) use a tool like Google Alerts to get a daily or weekly view into current web and blog activity related to targeted terms – helping you identify the active sites / blogs in your space or C) utilize one of many social media tools that allow you to measure sentiment and activity such as Klout, Gremln, HootSuite and TweetDeck. Using one dashboard to manage multiple social media accounts and platforms makes it easy and there are built in analytics functions and see what is important to your key audiences.
By utilizing these three keys to consistently engage your customers, your e-mail programs will become a relevant resource that your subscribers find value in and ultimately contribute to the development of the community at large.
Have you seen any measured success in any of these three areas?