Missed out on ConnectCon? For the next few weeks, we’ll be posting session recaps from our industry leaders, be sure to check the blog regularly for a summary and URL to the presentation.
Are you doing everything you can or should to get the most out of your email program? Vanessa Meincke, Senior Community and Email Manager at Data.com Connect, shares some helpful tips and tricks to get the most bang for your email buck.
Everywhere you turn, you seem to come across the discussion, “Is email dead?” While this makes for a great subject line to ensure an open from a nervous marketing manager, the truth is email is here to stay. According to Forrester, in 2013 alone 838 billion (yes, billion) email messages were sent. Email continues to rank #1 in ROI compared to other channels, generating an average of $39.40 on every dollar invested (Direct Marketing Association).
But let it not be said that email is stagnating. It’s evolving, right along with its marketing channel brethren. The days of “spray and pray” batch sends are out and personalized, relevant emails are. In today’s marketing climate, you have to know your customers to determine which content and offers will resonate, and not send cursors (or fingers) directly to the “delete” – or, even worse “spam” – button.
Smart email markets need to take customer location, device, onsite behavior, and brand relationship into account before hitting the send button. And the rewards for taking the time to get to know your audience shouldn’t be ignored: relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (Jupiter Research).
When building out an email program, think in terms of nurturing your audience. You’re looking to get your customers engaged, keep them engaged, and re-engage the customers who’ve seemingly gone dark.
So how do you get started with an email program that’s going to drive engagement and, ultimately, revenue? Begin by looking at your audience and defining your segments. Start with what you’ve got: where they are, who they work for, what kind of industry they’re in, where they are in the sales cycle, and when they’ve interacted with you. Use what you know and decide on two to three criteria that are important to you to start moving forward.
Don’t forget about your KPIs. These can be used to determine and prioritize your segments. Focus your efforts on the groups that will likely get you the most bang for your buck. And the results of your initial attempts will help inform decisions about your future strategy. Once you’ve defined your ideal leads, treat them differently, taking into account what you know about them and how they’re interacting with you. Evaluate your current programs: What are you doing? What’s working? What’s not? If you’re starting from zero, two to three programs is a realistic goal to set.
Once you’ve decided who you’re talking to, it’s time to decide what you’ll say. There are a number of nurture track types to consider.
Product Focused White Papers
A great way to reach out to leads and keep you top of mind at all stages of the sales cycle are white papers. They should focus on pertinent information, speaking to their main points. They have the added bonus of being very shareable and a means of attracting new potential customers.
Like white papers, regular webinars are a great way to engage with leads at regular intervals and keep you top of mind. Also, like white papers, webinars are very shareable. It’s a chance at new batches of eyes on your product or services, especially if you partner with another organization.
Newsletters, in addition to being very shareable, help you keep customers and leads up to date with what’s happening in your world, like new features, new products, new offers, etc.
Ok, you’ve signed a new customer. Now what? Welcome campaigns are a great way to ramp up new customers, distribute training materials, share best practices – any information that will help get them off to the right start.
Think about trying to up-sell current clients by promoting new or different packages. You want to provide info and incentives to expand the list of products they’re using, which lets clients see more of your value and can drive more revenue.
Renewal messaging is a convenient way to remind existing customers that it’s time to renew their contracts and show appreciation for their renewed business, reducing the chances of missed renewals and lost revenue.
To re-engage inactive leads, focus on being helpful: blogs, new white papers, or successful case studies, something to get your name in front of your audience without giving them the hard sell.
A word of caution though; you don’t want to inundate your recipients. Be sure and come up with an editorial calendar to track who you’re reaching out to and when. And if they don’t respond, consider dropping them from your distribution list. You can also use your sales cycle length to determine the timing on the various campaigns.
With all these emails, remember that your success is going to be hugely influenced by your content, and that content is determined by your audience. What do your recipients want to hear, and when do they want to hear it?
So where do you get all this fabulous content that you’ll be sending? Don’t reinvent the wheel: start by using what you already have. Try crowd-sourcing your content. Whatever size team or organization you work with, your coworkers are potential treasure troves of information you could be accessing. Talk to your sales team about FAQs from buyers at the start of the sales cycle and throughout the cycle. If you have a support team, what kinds of questions are they getting from new customers? All this information can be worked into your various email campaigns to help address audience concerns.
Also, look beyond your four walls and don’t simply toot your own horn in every communication. By incorporating other perspectives, you’ll help sustain engagement and increase the perception of you or your company as a trusted resource. Find info from other sources to become a one-stop shop for buyers.
Keep in mind though that with email content, less is more. People will get lost in long emails. If you see an email with paragraph after paragraph, how likely are you to sit down and read the whole thing? Try presenting information in list form: top 10 best practices, three things your competitors are doing, etc. Videos are also an easy way to get your information across. A short 90 second videos with success stories, use-cases, or industry trends can you get you a lot of attention and are highly shareable in multiple places.
As you put work into developing your content, make sure you get the most out of it. Be sure and take a multi-channel approach. An eBook, for example, can be turned into an entire content campaign: blog posts, infographics, webinars, twitter fodder, etc.
By putting a little time and effort into thinking about your emails programs, your content, and – most importantly – your audience, you’ll be amazed at the results you’ll see.