Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Increasing the Effectiveness of E-Marketing Campaigns

It's been a while since we've written about e-marketing -- and more specifically, the way that you construct the message. If you're one of our valuable clients or partners, you've probably noticed that we've really embraced this channel lately!

Hopefully, our messages are compelling enough to not only gain and hold your interest -- but also to make you either seek more information or contact us. So far, our results have been pretty darn good -- if we say so ourselves. Because of that, we thought that we'd share our tips for creating a compelling -- and responsive -- e-mail message. It's our responsibility as true bloggers -- and direct marketers -- to share our success stories with our favorite people -- our blog readers.

With e-mail marketing, we are all competing for the attention span of the receiver in an increasingly overcrowded landscape. So, in our humble opinion, we have to pay special attention to a few basic elements in order to take full advantage this this very effective direct marketing channel.

Your "From" address: I know it seems simple but we think this is extremely critical. It's just like anything else -- from the direct mail piece to the caller ID on our telephones -- we pay attention and respond to those who we trust and with whom we have a relationship. The From address needs to be consistent whenever you send out an e-marketing message. It creates recognition with your audience and adds credibility to your message. Research has demonstrated that not keeping the From address consistent will definitely lower your response and click-through rates.

Your "Subject" Line: Again, you'd think this would be a no-brainer . . . but some of the Subject Lines that we've seen look like they were almost made up on a whim -- or worse still, they don't have anything to do with the main message of the e-mail. Here's the thing, a well-written Subject Line can actually determine whether a person will open your message or not. Your Subject Line must be very concise and descriptive, and it must resonate with the recipient. I know it isn't easy to determine what is going to resonate with every single person on your e-mail list, however, spend some time to figure out the best Subject Line that will elicit a positive response from pretty much anyone. Your efforts here will be rewarded. Make your Subject Line a "Call-to-Action" -- again, one that is very specific and appeals to some basic emotional level of your recipients.

Your "Preview Pane" Opportunity: For those of us who are convinced that we can more effectively manage our Inbox via a Preview Pane, this is one really important piece of e-mail real estate. If you manage this space well, it will actually draw the reader into your message, making sure that they open the message and read it. We've seen some really poorly written Preview Panes -- where the e-marketer is obviously not paying attention to the pane and/or simply doesn't edit it from a previous message. This is just bad e-mail etiquette. Not only that, it causes confusion to the reader and would-be respondent! Grab that recipient's attention with a well-designed Preview Pane that features your company logo, navigation bar and offer-- right up front. This way, whether or not your recipient blocks images (as most do), your readers will see these elements in the Preview Pane as text.

We know that if you use these three elements effectively -- and well-orchestrated together -- that they will build on your overall message to create a more compelling, relevant and responsive e-marketing campaign.

We'd love to hear your experiences on how you've created e-marketing campaigns that have knocked it out of the ballpark. What else works for you?


Phil Bernstein said...

I've been doing an email newsletter for about three years now. It goes out every other week to a list of about 350 customers and clients. Not a huge list, but I've limited the distribution to people with whom I've had one-to-one contact.

Every issue has a couple of short articles of "real content", followed by one or two offers or promotional segments. I make a few sales each year directly from the newsletter -- it costs me $360 in out of pocket expenses to do it, and I generate about $10-$15,000 in direct sales. So it's profitable, but not hugely so in a direct sense.

Where it's been most valuable is in reminding 350 people of my continued existence twice a month; I'm just one guy and don't have time to stay in regular touch with that many people that often. When I do call, they know me, even if we haven't talked in months or years. And every now and then someone I'd completely forgotten about calls me and we do business.

What I've never done is rented a list and done an actual campaign. One of these days I'm gonna have to give that a try...

Nancy Arter said...

Hi Phil, What a great success story! And, even at $10,000 in direct sales per year, that's a 3.6% conversion rate -- which is nothing to sneeze at in direct marketing!

We'll be interested to hear how your prospecting campaign turns out when you go down that path.

Thanks for sharing your success story and reminding us of the value of coming across customers' desks a couple times per month. It definitely does help to keep you top of mind when a project does happen to come up and, I think, continues to prove your credibility. After all, that real content is definitely a value-add for your customers. You are providing them with good ideas that they can test within their own organizations. There's lots to be said for that!

Thanks for your comment!