More than 247 billion e-mail messages are sent over the Internet each day. With so many messages circulating online and cluttering our inboxes, is the use of e-mail for business sales and marketing purposes still a viable option? The answer is “yes,” but only if you utilize e-mail strategically.
Keep in mind that nearly 60 percent of all U.S. users open, read and send messages daily. To connect with these customers, e-mail marketing remains the most cost-efficient and most impactful business communications tool available. If your broadcast e-mail messages are getting lost in the shuffle, perhaps it is time to fine tune your process. Think “Smart E-mail.”
Establish a relationship with the customer. You wouldn’t open your front door to a stranger; recipients won’t open e-mail from a stranger either. The stronger the relationship between sender and receiver, the greater the chance that the message is opened, read and generates a positive response. Make sure to clearly identify your company within the message’s subject line and reply address. If you have never contacted the recipient before, leverage your established brand awareness in the marketplace for added attraction and credibility to increase your open rate.
Make it count. Build your relationships by consistently presenting content that is relevant and addresses a compelling need. No one has time to waste. If your e-mail content is typically irrelevant, prospective customers will ignore and block your future mailings. Sharpen your relevancy by soliciting feedback, inviting customers to choose the type of information they want receive, submit their own content suggestions, and participate in online surveys to better define their interests.
Deliver a valued service, not just words. Use e-mail as a tool to provide a clear, tangible and desired service to your customer, not just a sales pitch. For existing customers, blend personalized account information, product application tips and important service reminders within your messages. For prospective customers, use e-mail to deliver useful training tips, offer a free trial, explain industry trends, present a case study, or demonstrate a solution to a common problem.
Timing is everything. For best results, messages should address the client’s specific need at the moment the need arises. Consider offering an automated, self-service e-mail “knowledge bank,” allowing customers to request immediate product guides, white papers, service appointments, coupons, and rate quotes through an interactive request form. Individual e-mail messages can also be pre-scheduled and triggered by defined milestones, such as anniversary dates, purchase levels, buying habits, or through an incentive rewards program.
Kip Cozart is CEO of CC Communications, a Web design, programming and Internet media company. Contact him at 704-543-1171 or visit www.cccommunications.com/bizXperts for more strategic e-mail marketing suggestions.