All too often today, e-marketing consists of little more than an email blast with a link to a Web page. Other than that simple link, email and the Web are isolated from each other, from other customer touch points, and from other marketing activities happening at the same time. How can an e-marketing effort be successful amidst these realities? e-marketers need to conduct much more targeted, personally relevant campaigns that present a consistent image across all e-channels and surround the target audience with their message. Across the financial services, retail, travel and leisure, manufacturing, telecommunications, and other industries, well-respected consumer-facing businesses have matured in their use of email as a marketing tool.
By varying the content, the delivery frequency, and the branded experience they present to existing and prospective customers, they are trying to break through the clutter of spam that invades their recipients' inboxes. And they are beginning to get a sense of what works and what doesn't.
Any seasoned marketing professional will tell you the key to successful marketing is to present a sustained and consistent brand and message to a target audience over a period of time, and through as many touch points as possible. You must surround your target audience with your brand and message. You must reinforce your message in every appropriate interaction with your customers and prospects. Businesses may have honed their email campaign skills, but these campaigns are too often completely isolated from other customer touch points or from other marketing channels. Consider the Web--the other big e-marketing vehicle.
You can pack a Web site full of useful content that gives visitors information and perhaps inspires them to make a purchase. Outbound email campaigns contain links that pull the target audience into the Web site; but all too often, arriving at a landing page feels like dropping off the edge of the campaign. There is no sustained, consistent, or personally relevant message. Businesses so rarely integrate their e-marketing placement across email and the Web, it seems that these siblings are barely on speaking terms. These e-channels need to be integrated, work together, and support each other.
Use inbound interactions to add value to outbound communications
It would be nice if a new customer made a purchase on the very first visit to your Web site, but usually things don't turn out that way. A new customer will likely visit your site (and others) several times before building up the confidence to make a transaction, unless your brand precedes you in some other fashion. In fact, a Web visitor may never make an online purchase, but may rather use your Web site as a research tool. Using a first visit to win the right to send marketing communications in the future is a reasonable expectation.
If you can't sell something straight away, you can at least increase your odds for the next time. The Web lets you learn a tremendous amount of useful information about your visitors, including their preferences and behavior--even when they remain anonymous. They leave information about themselves just by browsing particular products, viewing particular articles, running particular searches, or asking particular self-service questions. It's time to start capturing and acting on all of this valuable information. If you present personally relevant content, you demonstrate that you are a good business to deal with, attentive to customers' needs, and that you care about their concerns. They become more apt to sign up for e-newsletters and future promotions. You earn loyalty points.
The arrival of next-generation e-marketing tools is feeding the imagination of e-marketing practitioners. We have arrived at an exciting time when truly creative, innovative, and compelling campaign ideas are less likely to be scrapped on the basis of implementation difficulties.
About the Author
Ian Davis is product marketing director at ATG. For more information visit www.atg.com
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