By Sharon A.M. MacLean
I’ve been thinking a lot about newsletters and automated email marketing that evolved from direct mail in the 80s. Both methods have been used diligently in my career.
Newsletters certainly offer a solid tool for staying in touch with clients. My blog titled, “We still revere newsletters with a twist” remains the highest read among missives this year. I still love the medium.
A really good example of a newsletter program developed for Affordable Storage Sherwood Park that included a personalized email letter averaged the highest open rate: 49.6%. Yes, you read that correctly. Company President Sharon Romank is pictured above and I’ll tell you how we achieved results that exceeded the industry average of 16% a bit later.
It makes sense.
We like to feel as if a company from which we receive email is speaking directly to us. Email expert Karen Talavera backs this up: “Those one-to-one email messages are the key to revenue and response optimization, because they convert at 10 to 20 times higher than generalized broadcast campaigns.” And, according to Epsilon, triggered email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than traditional bulk messages.
Everyone craves personal attention, especially in a world so reliant on technology for relationships. It might sound ironic that it’s possible to automate your email messages for a more personal connection with each each customer. That is company gold.
What’s the first step? Forget using Outlook or Gmail; they’re too cumbersome. Standard email services just don’t give you enough flexibility or information to study results. It’s more useful to discover how many emails were opened and how many links were clicked for more detailed analysis and follow up. Certain Email Service Providers (ESP) can also add photos, short videos or landing pages which are like flyers that lead to a certain action.
Companies that use marketing automation have 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users, according to the Aberdeen Group. And B2C marketers who take advantage of automation for everything from cart abandonment programs to birthday emails have conversion rates as high as 50%, eMarketer reports. As mentioned earlier, Affordable Storage Sherwood Park averaged 49%.
It’s true that installing email automation needs some time to get off the ground. But automation doesn’t need to be complicated—and it shouldn’t be daunting. The decision is to select software to carry out the task of automating your email campaigns such as Instant Customer, which I use, Infusionsoft on the high end or Mail Chimp on the low end. These services automate marketing communications with customers on a regular basis.
ESPs help with monitoring your email deliverability and bounce-backs and ensuring your compliance with anti-spam regulations. When you send your email campaign through an ESP, it will include a standard opt-out and global opt-out link as well. If you have no design experience, ESPs can help provide templates to make email campaigns look professional.
We now know that email tops marketing preferences. This is because not everyone is always logged into Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. But most people constantly check their email, even when they are not at their computers.
Here’s an example of how email marketing automation can work in a campaign:
- A potential customer registers to download a free white paper;
- The customer’s email is captured via the download form;
- After the download, a follow-up thank-you note is sent introducing the company and sales contact;
- A series of emails (a 3-part how-to for example) is triggered to this potential customer over time);
- If the prospect engages with the other mails, as well, the prospective customer will be considered to be more sales ready;
- You can now assign the leads by quality and buying stage. For instance, points are allocated to leads that requested download reports. Higher points are allocated when a price sheet is downloaded. The demographic of the lead is captured and weighted;
- Someone whose title is Vice President is given higher weight than someone with a designation like Office Manager if the VP is responsible for those decisions.
Now, leads are weighed and scored, with only the effective leads sent to business development. It doesn’t have to be a follow up; many companies just want to know better timing to present an offer.
Companies also need to set realistic expectations—based on past performance—of what a successful email campaign looks like.These are some of the reasons why a company will adopt marketing automation:
- Save time. Multiple campaigns can be scheduled way ahead of time and released when you’re ready. This gives you time to work on something else—like your golf swing;
- Efficiency. Time and resources can be reduced, therefore costs can be reduced too;
- CRM integration. Automation helps you keep track of those leads, so they don’t drop off the radar after a couple of unsuccessful contacts;
- Data collection. Modern marketing isn’t always sales driven. Additional information can be used to collect specific details to improve future campaigns or communication;
- Multi-channel management. So many channels, not enough time. Marketing automation can help you keep tabs on any channel;
- Personalization. The goal is to be warm, welcoming, and relevant in this mechanized world. They will be more open to you.
It’s also helpful to understand the various personas or target audiences that make up your customer base. Put yourself in their shoes and identify where the customer experience falls short as they interact with your brand.
I promised to tell you how Affordable achieved a 49% open rate. Here’s what we did:
- Clarified the company’s vision, mission, and values statements that informed all methods of communication for existing clients and prospective customers;
- Identified personas. These personas represented 3 different buying personalities that helped us write specifically to their lifestyle;
- Combined a warm and inviting covering letter from the general manager with a quarterly newsletter or landing page in the intervening months for product promotions;
- Introduced staff members and their responsibilities and invited clients to say hello or stop by the store for a draw to win monthly door prizes;
- Ensured that customers could easily reply through text messages, email, social media or telephone while staff were geared up to respond immediately.
Newsletters combined with automated email marketing is a beautiful combination. You save time while keeping your customers up-to-date on important developments with your company.
Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]