Is Strategy Missing From Your Email Marketing?

What's your company's email marketing strategy? Does it involve sending monthly newsletters promoting product/services? If so, you are not alone. This is the plan many businesses have adopted because it is fairly simple, it doesn't require too much thinking, it's flexible, and it closely mimics an organization's marketing style that existed before email became a marketing medium. Unfortunately, using this approach results in a limited chance for it to become a significantly successful medium for the business. Email is a different medium from others for many reasons--just think: spam, filters, dynamic content, timely delivery, click-tracking, unsubscribe, animation, and many more. Does that sound like any other marketing medium you know? Nope. And it is rapidly changing--trying to apply yesterday's strategy to today's most powerful marketing medium is a colossal missed opportunity and mistake. In 1998, producing and sending an email newsletter was pretty slick stuff, and subscribers were happy to receive it, because they didn't receive many other email messages. Today, a newsletter is routine, and people are flooded with email messages. For a business to maximize its email success, it needs to deliver value on a consistent basis. What is value? It can be very different for different people--what might be of value to one might be worthless to another. This is where research needs to drive strategy, and then be implemented in the email-marketing database. The best way to determine what customers want to receive from your business is to ask them. Sounds simple, but in reality most ideas are dreamed up by creative team people in a conference room, which is far from the true customer experience. The ideas that matter most to customers are discovered through talking with them about the things they like about your business, the ones they dislike, asking them how they would do it, and what would be ideal. This type of customer dialogue will lead you to the strategy that delivers value into the customer's inbox. You still might want to make an email newsletter part of your communications, but make sure it includes the following:
  • PERSONALIZE Include their name. Incorporate content that is relevant to them, and exclude stuff that is not. We've seen personalization improve click rates by more than 200 percent.
  • CUSTOMIZE Allow subscribers to pick and choose different types of content. Choices will improve every email marketing performance metric (subscribe rate, open rate, click rate, conversion rate, etc.) and make your subscribers more loyal.
  • MAKE IT CONSISTENT Email is a dialogue medium with a rhythm and tempo to it. Messages sent on regular days, whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly, create a better subscriber experience. Subscribers will begin to consciously and unconsciously make reviewing your messages part of their routine.
  • DIFFERENTIATE Almost every industry today is highly competitive. If you just have a product, and little differentiation, you probably won't be in business long. A quality product is just the entry fee to be in business. Same goes for an email newsletter. You must send something more than just a product to hock. Design it to provide more information than just a sales pitch and PR, but something that can help subscribers in their day or might be of interest. Remember, a subscriber has given your business a unique opportunity to send them an email message--make the most of it by providing them information of value and in a way that makes sense to them. If you don't eventually they will begin ignoring all of your email messages and deem them irrelevant. About the Author Kevin Burke is the strategy leader with Lucid Marketing, a marketing service company that builds relationships between moms and consumer brand companies. Kevin can be reached at (877) 260-1330 or Kevin_Burke@lucidmarketing.com
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