Email Marketing Is Not Spam! (If It’s Done Right) – Part I
As an industgrial marketing strategist, I am always challenging my industrial clients to experiment with less traditional forms of marketing. Although email marketing has become blasé in the world of B to C marketing, many of my industrial clients still resist its use. The most common objection I hear is, “I don’t want to offend my customers by sending them spam all the time.” Hold on there! Why do industrial marketers only see email marketing as an intrusion and something they should avoid? I guess it’s because the majority of industrial companies who are using emails as a marketing tool are either working with the wrong agency or they themselves don’t understand that email marketing is most successful as a tool for customer relationship management (CRM.)
Let me define email marketing and make the case for its strengths. It is basically a form of electronic direct marketing to a highly targeted audience. In the Internet world, it’s one of the oldest but still one of the most effective eMarketing tactics. It’s powerful because it is:
Cost Effective: because you have complete control over the email “list” used to generate your email campaign, each and every email you send out can be to a contact that is a potential customer. What other means of marketing gives you such a low cost per contact when delivering a message? Think about the shot gun approach of print advertising, and you’ll get the picture.
Email marketing is powerful because it is:
Highly targeted: your email campaign can go to ten hot, “A” leads, or 100 warm “B” leads – but regardless, YOU control who receives your email. Many industrial companies simply use lists they obtain from trade shows or trade publications. While this is certainly one way of conducting an email campaign, it’s not the most cost effective or targeted. The greatest ROI comes from your own qualified lead database.
Completely customizable: because you control the email list and know the audience your email is going to, you can customize each email to perfectly suit the needs or concerns of that specific group. Create an email for current customers; create another for prospects interested in one particular product or service; another for additional product lines. The possibilities are endless. Consider that the cost to create an email blast by a professional agency is at least half of what it costs to have a print ad designed, along with the fact that you’re not paying for magazine “space” to deliver your message. For the cost of placing one full page ad in a widely circulated trade publication, you can send out 7 or 8 email blasts!
Measurable: if there’s one complaint I hear more than any other about marketing spend, it’s that there’s no real way to track ROI. I had the same complaint when I worked with agencies on the other side of the desk before starting my own marketing business. With today’s sophisticated web analytics widely available to all, tracking the results of an eMarketing campaign is a snap. Analytics can be as simple as who opened the email or can provide a wide range of more specific data. Determine what constitutes success in YOUR mind and find the right analytics tool to provide you with the results you need.
Perhaps email marketing’s greatest strength is that it capitalizes on your customers’ and prospects’ most prolific gateway to THEIR customers, prospects, and the Internet – their email Inbox. Most business people spend more time today reading and responding to emails than they do talking on the phone. In fact, in many cases, your customers spend as much time in front of their computers as they do on the shop floor or out in the field. THAT is a captive audience waiting to receive your message!
The greatest success comes from creating a strategic plan around the goals you hope to achieve with your campaign. There are really only two types of marketing emails:
Promotional: these are obviously advertising a product, service, or event and the objective is to move the reader to take a specific action such as clicking through to the company’s website or a customized landing page; signing up or registering for something; filling out a form in order to obtain something (for instance a white paper); or possibly picking up the phone and calling.
Retention based: the most common form of retention based email in industry is the e-newsletter, but they can be much briefer than a typical newsletter. Many popular bloggers deliver emails on a daily or weekly basis to their readers with short, quick reads that focus on their area of expertise. The objective is to deliver something of value to the reader in order to foster or continue to develop a relationship. This is the type of campaign that is the most likely to achieve long-term results. However, as with all relationships, it has to be nurtured and consistently delivered. A hit or miss approach does not a relationship build.
So, why do so many of my industrial clients have such a negative view of email marketing? I think it’s because most of the email marketing done in industrial circles is promotional and never really hits the mark on providing value or nurturing relationships. I guess if that’s the only type of email marketing you’ve ever seen, you would consider it spam.
That’s my case for the power of email marketing. Next post: how to execute a successful campaign.