Email Marketing — More Than a One-Night Stand

    1024 546 Charlene Hixon

    email marketing that’s more than a one-night stand

    My husband thinks all marketing tactics, particularly emails, come from the dark side. He is wary of being “tricked” into buying something and absolutely hates receiving emails that have persistent offers in them. I think he’s mad because in fact he’s a sucker who is too easily distracted and wooed by new shiny products (squirrel!!). But that’s another discussion for another time.

    However, he has a point. And a good one. As someone who works every day in the world of online marketing, I see too many companies endlessly pushing their offers and emails. And what happens? The audience starts unsubscribing, consumers drop like flies, and the effort is moot.

    Being too pushy is a dangerous game. Shoving offers in people’s faces is aggressive and, generally, unsuccessful. Marketers who try to offset this sales approach by forcing familiarity too soon, however, come across as sleazy. For consumers, icky email marketing—whether too personal or too pushy—can feel like a bad date. Successful, long-term relationships require a successful courtship. And as in real life, intimacy and trust must be earned.

    Here are a few of the ways I encourage our clients to be better first dates—and better life-long partners.

    treat consumers like humans. If you’re only working with customer data, then you’re probably not making a real connection. Truly human (and effective) marketing strategies understand the beliefs, attitudes, lifestyles, interests and motivations of consumers. Companies must engage in a discovery process that will help them learn about their audience.

    show you’ve been listening. You need to remember how your spouse takes his or her coffee, right? Your customers want to know you’ve been paying attention. Otherwise it’s like serving cheese to someone with a lactose allergy. A simple way to personalize your emails is to group (segment) your customers according to the information you’ve learned about them along the way (age, geography, likes dislikes, types of purchases made, etc.) and create content that is specific to each segment. If they live in Boston, provide them with offers in Boston. Segment consumers by the pages/topics they most frequent on your site and send them emails with relevant content and promotions. The more you segment, the more likely you’ll be able to create content that makes them feel heard and holds their attention.

    nurture your leads automatically. In addition to your regularly scheduled marketing emails, automation emails are pre-programmed to deploy based on specific triggers, such as purchases, shopping cart abandons, birthdays or upcoming event reminders. The more you know about each individual visitor, the greater the value you can provide. While automation requires some up-front effort, they’re relatively easy to manage and optimize and can really move the needle on customer engagement and conversion rates.

    if you love them, let them go. Let’s face it, you can’t win loyalty through entrapment. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your list. Some businesses are tempted to obscure their opt-out links as much as possible, but the risk here is that recipients will find it easier to flag the email as spam—which can damage your reputation. Wherever you choose to place the link, make sure it’s easy for people to bid adieu.

    hey baby, what’s your sign?

    In a marketing-filled world, trustworthiness goes a long way. It is critical to understand how to delight potential buyers and win them over before you start pushing offers. Here are a few important first steps for building a healthy relationship between your brand and your consumers.

    • start with a good database. While you might be good at purging your list of hard bounces and opt-outs, there is more you should do to keep a clean and optimal database. Look at open rates over several months—are there customers who haven’t opened an email in six months? Longer? Perhaps they found their way onto your list by accident and have yet to opt out. It’s time to re-engage them or remove them from future mailings; in the meantime, they are skewing your results. One strategy for reengagement: send an email asking them how frequently they’d like to receive mailings from you.
    • get to know your customers. If you are not compiling data about your customers, you are missing out on some valuable information. Study what they do on your website—tools like Hotjar or Google Analytics will help you see what they’re reading, watching and doing. You can also just ask Use surveys, polls and even webinars to gauge how they feel about particular topics or products. Understanding your customers is the only way to know what they would consider to be of high value.
    • establish your brand’s authority. Run an informative blog and/or contribute to industry websites, regularly update your social profiles, use search filters to answer questions on Twitter, publish quality videos or podcasts, develop white papers, or apply for industry awards. Consider hiring content creators to hone the material and give it polish. Building your brand’s authority will not only create consumer goodwill, it can improve your site’s natural search performance and drive additional streams of traffic to your website.

    The bottom line—think relationship, not numbers. The more you push the offer before you’ve established trust, the more likely you’ll lose them forever. And sometimes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

    key takeaways

    1. In today’s marketing world, trustworthiness goes a long way. It is critical to understand how to delight potential buyers and win them over before you start pushing offers.
    2. Engage in a discovery process to learn about your audience’s preferences, interests, and habits. The results should inform your email marketing campaigns.
    3. Personalization helps customers feel like they are relevant and being “heard.” Try grouping (segmenting) your customers according to the information you’ve learned about them along the way (age, geography, likes dislikes, types of purchases made, etc.) and create content that is specific to each segment.
    4. Make use of automation emails, which are pre-programmed to deploy based on specific triggers, such as purchases, shopping cart abandons, birthdays or upcoming event reminders. The more you know about each individual visitor, the greater the value you can provide.
    5. Don’t obscure your opt-out link. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe, otherwise recipients will find it easier to flag the email as spam—which can damage your reputation.

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    AUTHOR

    Charlene Hixon

    Charlene is an CRM + database marketing expert at smart panda labs, where she advises on email marketing strategy and tactics as well as designs, develops and tests all email campaigns for current clients. She is an accomplished marketing professional with a broad range of digital experience, including online marketing, project management, content management, digital design, email marketing, user experience and ecommerce. Charlene has worked across numerous industries including litigation, luxury hotels, and leisure/travel and tourism, providing expertise in Sparklist email marketing software, Litmus Testing, SalesForce Marketing Cloud/ExactTarget and Adobe Creative Suite. Prior to joining the team at smart panda labs, she worked as Email Marketing/CRM Associate for Universal Orlando and Project Manager for Marriott Vacations Worldwide. She is a Certified Email Specialist in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

    All stories by: Charlene Hixon

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