For those who read my last post regarding e-mail marketing, well… this is the second out of 3 posts I am going to publish, hopefully it will shed some light upon this medium and help you guys…And girls reach your prospects.
like any marketing channel it is important to understand that email marketing is a complete science and one needs to master it, I am not saying it’s rocket science but there are very important aspects that you need to understand and like any other medium it takes time, you always need to be on top of things, it goes without saying that experience is everything. I believe that this year e-mail will continue to take the number 1 position as the preferred marketing channel for marketers (with all due respect to social marketing facebook and all ), I will try to summarize the 7 Subscriber mail principals you should be aware of but let me start with an overview
Segmentation – every company over time accumulates valuable information about its customers, of course this information is different from company to company but the more you know about your customers the better you communicate with them , and I will explain in a sec… if we learn how to use this information smartly it would be valuable to our company, smart use of data enables the launch of a more targeted campaigns with usually higher response rates, if we take a min and drill down, and try to understand it, it would save our company time and money, help us allocate resources and budgets and reach audiences that technically or financially we couldn’t reach before, the first stage is called “segmenting” or “clustering” ,dividing our customer database into groups or clusters with similar “behavior” if you didn’t start doing so this is the time you need to understand that on the other side there are different people with different desires and different needs, here are a few segmentation methods you can use (these are the common ones, there are many more ways to segment but I will not discuss it all in this post)
Geographic Information – arranging your customer base by geographic location is pretty straight forward I would say, customers who have entered their whereabouts in the application process allows us to identify or at least direct our marketing message in a more “oiled” way, If for example we wish to launch a “guerilla” campaign in Tel aviv, we can provide the local audience / potential customer a more tailor made message such as a unique offer/benefit for Tel Aviv residents , the ability to customize a marketing message in a residential area can sometimes be critical, geographic location is an indicator of buying patterns and its effecting the buying cycle.
Demographic information – Well … it’s straight forward as well I would say, young audiences vs. adult audiences, women vs. men, age pyramid that varies from product to product, for example if we take the world of skill games, games based on ability, where the young female segment is much dominant than that of men 70% vs. 30%.I am sure you would agree that if I would thought of advertising a new jeep , putting it in a women’s magazine probably won’t attract that many buyers , but if I were to advertise it on a man’s magazine I would probably get more response. This data will enable us to easily maximize the message and know who we want to “touch”, more than that – learn how to touch our prospect.
Role/position – The role type or to put it into simpler words – the place that the customer work at and his position in the company, is he/she an important figure? Do they have purchasing power? Is pricing the product is compatible with their income level (income level or household status is also a relevant segment)? CEOs or deputy directors will be interested more in ROI numbers or a mission statement, middle managers will look for ways to ”relieve” themselves, programmers and designers may want to find better ways to work or techniques that can make their lives easier, maybe the way we approach those prospects would change and be more respectable? Does the language we use to write the email changes? It’s all about matching the type of copy to the person who’s on the other side of the e-mail.
Frequency of purchase – The purchase frequency of your customers is going down and you feel there is a problem…well…you are right probably, customers not always return to buy more , this is one of the most important thing, as companies and businesses we spend allot of money to acquire our customers, its only logical that we try to retain them and keep them coming back for more, so…you found that there is a problem and that customers “churn” (leave you) or just “dormant” (get sleepy) there may be a problem, maybe there is a problem in the sales process, perhaps there is a problem with the checkout process, I am sure that we can name so many problems, this is why this clause is so important, always ask why the customer buys less and less, try to analyze the sales funnel all the time, see where you are missing out on things, ask your customers what they want (a personal email is a vey powerful tool) use surveys , ask questions , ask them to be involved more, make a decision , on the other hand maybe you do need to change your strategy, maybe these customers may need a limited time offer sales? Something to make them make a purchase quickly, perhaps we want to offer special offers to those who buy with us more often … I can go on and on…
Monetary Spending – Who remembers it from school? (I’m not so sure I remember it ..:-)), FOCUS – we all know the 20% / 80% rule, and it goes without saying that 80% of our income comes from 20% of our customers, this is why you need to allocate your resources and target those 20%, focus on customers that pay more, customers that keep coming back, construct a new VIP program and communicate with them personally, I am not saying you should not attempt to target the mass, the 80% is not less important but in email marketing terms the message can be more generic, the ideal thing was to send a personal email to each and every customer but we all know that it is probably not feasible …but you should aim there.
There are many other ways to segment and I am sure that if you put your mind into it you would find that there could be many sub groups with different behavior and different needs, but these are the natural ones, I used to work at a cellular company back in the days, I remember I was very interested in segmenting our audiences who use voice mail (one of the most profitable channels for every cellular company) I remember me trying to understand their habits, who are the ones that listen to voice mail from a landline? (cell companies lose money in this case) what time of the day do they listen? how many times a day? How many messages do they “pull” a day or a week? it got me thinking…maybe I’ll market a new 50% off package in certain times of the day? Maybe I’ll package “pulled” messages by number (25 messages – $5, 100 messages $2) maybe I’ll just market a package were customers can “pull” as much messages from their voice mail as they can for an $X monthly flat fee, I must tell you that I have discovers the most amazing things and weird behaviors – it allowed me to increase revenue from small changes I have made to voice mail packages.
… If you started “segmenting” Do not stop! Always try to find creative ways to reach your end customer, email allows us to do so in a very personal way, not like any other marketing medium.
Divide your target audience, more details = easier doing it, hire a marketing analyst, beyond the fact that he knows numbers, a good analyst would probably identify user patterns and behaviors and would know how to recommend and apply different tactics (I promise to talk about data warehouse and Business intelligence later on). To my understanding knowing and controlling the numbers & identifying patterns of use can enhance your email campaigns, on the basis of these insights you will be able to produce marketing campaigns with amazing effect.
Always think again – even when you are so sure that the process you designed is the best one ever…think again, always try to “pill” & “stick” pill the bad and the things that don’t work and stick the good and improve the existing, maybe it’s worth to improve your opt-in process (the stage where people sign up, it’s used by companies usually to get the customer to agree for getting promotional material) maybe we can ask for less details in registration? Or perhaps add a few to get more quality leads? Maybe we should change the positions of our form fields? Maybe it’s worth asking the subscribers to add our domain/”from” name to their “white list”? (safe Senders list) it can be the language we use, the graphics, the copy, these changes are those that will determine whether they ignore our e-mail or will they click and go forward, these changes may cause them to sign up and buy our products, we are required to keep the process dynamic as we can (don’t “fall in love with it”) we are required to develop a process which would enrich our data base and help us create a more personal / tailored “Catalog” it’s an ongoing and evolving relationship and we must stay in focus at all times.
A small tip – try to examine any legal or regulatory consequences. Such as placing an unsubscribe link in the bottom of your email, I would not advise you to be too clever and mess with it, SPAM is a matter that is under a magnifying glass and I wouldn’t want you guys to find yourself being sued because you didn’t know about the boundaries.
Update & “Clean” your lists
many marketers don’t realize that their database should be maintained, over time we collect allot of data , some of the data over time becomes obsolete, people change their emails, they change their addresses, place of work, phone numbers, and even gender and if you keep on sending bulk emails and blast your data base without cleaning it once in a while you would find out that it has a huge effect, you lose money because you send to a greater X then you should (most of you, those who don’t have their own technology pay for a certain amount of emails a month and it costs) you can find yourself with a very high bounce rate (soft bounce or hard bounce) which is a way of saying you are not reaching anyone, what I suggest is: clean your lists like you clean your house (not daily of course) do it at the beginning of each year or even every 6 months or quarterly, update can be done both manually and automatically , it can involve the customer or not – you choose- email lists “age” all the time and rather quickly, this is why there must be an ongoing process of cleaning your database, it does not mean that you need to delete each record that you have but there is a way of segmenting historical records I’ll try to give an example:
1. Are there any records or email address you don’t send to? If so clean them from the database, try gathering them and tag them as “Old”, you can work on those old records and try to “revive” it, it will save you allot of money and can generate returning customers that have lost touch.
2. Go over the list of customers that didn’t respond to your recent email campaigns , ask yourself why, and perhaps try to produce a different message such as a unique and attractive offer, maybe a better value proposition, try using a more personal approach, maybe even an intriguing title that will cause them to react, if after several attempts you see they do not respond you may delete those records so you won’t keep losing money on sending over and over to someone that doesn’t respond (he/she are probably not interested) Today we can say for sure that the quality of emails and not quantity is what’s important.
Preview panes & blocked e-mails – many users use preview panes on their outlook or their Gmail, some preview panes are horizontal and some vertical , some take up 25% of the screen and some are 75%, as you can imagine if you send an e-mail to your customers you must make sure they see the all your email… right? Those preview panes have a very large effect on our email campaign response, design them to match a different email client software, many of our customers seek to block certain emails by applying different rules, they sometimes are not even aware that their e-mail software blocks images and graphics, as I mentioned in my earlier post hire a email designer who knows the rules (it’s not your ordinary designer) this one has to know about user interfaces and apply different tactics, you must always think of the basic principle – how can I cause people to first CLICK on my email so it will open and then how to attract their attention so they will keep on reading it after they have opened it.
Standardization and authentication (Verification)
Sounds just like ancient Chinese I know, but it is very important, validation of emails have reached a critical point were u have to apply this tactic, if you have not yet used it you better get started. It’s not a “sexy” subject but I will try to explain it in a simple way, your email is moving from place to place, from your email client to different servers, ISP’s and eventually your friends/prospect’s inbox (if you do reach it ) there are many parameters that I won’t get into right now that defines whether an email is popular or not, relevant or not, it can be the domain in which you are using , the “from” name, and even the text you use in the subject or the email body.
There are 2 basic ways to send an e-mail:
Non authenticated email
Writing the email >> sending it through an e-mail client >> from your server >> E-mail recipient server >> Recipient – this is done without any interventions, Quality assurance etc.
Writing an Email >> sending it through e-mail client >> test email structure and delivery standards (text used, number of links in the email, html format, domain etc) >> E-mail recipient server>> further examination whether this email has the right standards >> Recipient
(Emails received = non-filtered as spam emails, or because of technical problems or that cause our email not to reach the destination.
Expand the amount or e-mail tests
Much like any other marketing channel, I believe we always need to trial and error, test, test, test and keep on trying to do better, there are many ways of maximizing your lists and your email campaigns, you must examine the effectiveness of each campaign and aim for continuous changes of frame design and marketing, do not continue to send the same emails, the same messages, same design, try realizing when it does not work anymore, try and re-examine again, change the subject line, change the nature of a mail (personal, commercial, image, etc.), consider a different message for different segments , change the offer, add motivation for action or a call for action (button to download the product, or feature an eye appealing graphic), change the colors (for example, there are many countries that different colors have different meanings, sometimes using the wrong colors can also hurt or insult your customers), always check which combination worked better than the rest and use it, there are 7 important steps in such process;
1. Ask a Question
2. Invent/come up with a theory why it works the way it works
3. “Segment” your list
4. Create a test
5. Measure your results
6. Analyze it and collect feedbacks
7. Perform the necessary changes
Always try to beat the existing copy with a better one.
Last but not least – always try to revive or to think again about the campaigns that didn’t work, campaigns with poor results, use this medium wisely, it requires experience and certainly you can go wrong in many ways, but without those mistakes you wouldn’t understand what works and what’s not, if you feel you need professional help – then hire it! If you keep on blasting over and over without applying the basics I have spoken about you would never understand the true power of email marketing.
There is allot to write about email marketing and I’ll try doing so in my next post, despite all the guidelines and limitations even if you feel you are experienced, you will discover very quickly that selling a product or segmenting requires a period of study and experience, it’s a process that takes time to master, it might be slow sometimes and the learning curve is almost endless but don’t give up, always keep on trying.
In the 3′rd post regarding email marketing i will try giving you all some common tools that you can use to enhance your communications with your customers…stay tuned.