Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Used correctly, e-mail works

Every day I receive hundreds of e-mail at my primary, business address. Then, there's more in my Yahoo and, yikes, even more lurking in various junk/spam folders. That's why, even though I'm in this business (I actually help clients deploy e-mail campaigns), I still have a hard time in understanding how ANY e-mail campaign has a chance in hell of being successful.

But, check out these stats from a recent "Multichannel Merchant" article. "According to a recent study by the Direct Marketing Association, e-mail marketing delivers the highest return on investment of all media available to marketers. The study also projects that e-mail driven sales in the U.S. will show a compound annual growth rate of 14.9% between 2006 and 2011."

However, (and this is a big "however"), if e-mail is done wrong, it can actually harm the relationship you may have built with your customer/lead.

"Sales & marketing expert Patrick Valtin, president of M2-Tec USA and founder of one of the largest consulting company in Europe called U-Man Belgium, claims e-mail marketing is highly profitable if done correctly. The main mistake is trying to convert a prospect when embarking on e-mail marketing, he says. The direction one should take is instead is trying to attract a qualified prospect."

Mr. Valtin feels that a core group to market via the e-mail channel are those older leads who at one point expressed an interest in your service, but who have not yet converted (become your customer). "Sleeping customers" (a customer who may have bought once but hasn't yet become your loyal devotee) are another great group to communicate with e-mail.

In addition to advising e-mail marketers to 'attract' verses sell in an e-mail campaign, the article offers some other helpful tips:

"Three common mistakes in e-mail marketing are:

  • Trying to sell through the marketing e-mail. You have to cut the gradient to attract and then convert. The question is: what will motivate them to join your list?
  • Making the subject line too ambiguous; using trite phrases that are actually considered spam. What you have to watch, Valtin also warns, is "too hot or too juicy is looked upon as spam by search engine spiders."
  • Not being consistent with "from" address line. From very beginning, the from line should be consistent. Even here there is a need to have instant recognition."

But, while e-mail can be an excellent direct marketing channel, just remember that when we do it wrong, we're doing more harm than good. "When you screw up on e-mail marketing lines with prospects or customers, you get cut off and most likely don't get another chance. It's too easy to junk your e-mail address and be shut off from further communication."

Lesson learned. Keep e-mail in your tool-box. But use it correctly and remember to bring value to your customer/prospect with each campaign.

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