Email news and strategy
Permission-Based Email Marketing Fundamentals
by Neil Anuskiewicz
Most people talk about different things with different people. With one friend the conversation might usually focus on relationships. With another, perhaps talk turns more naturally to movies, books, sports or politics.
You would be unlikely to appeal to your relationship-discussing friend if you were to engage in a monologue about your opinion of our current political leaders. However, if you started in with that same screed to your politics-loving friend, he or she would greet it with a smile that says “Let the games begin!”
The same theory applies to communicating with your customers and prospects. “One of the most important things to keep in mind when developing your campaign is relevance, says Yael Penn, Principal of Imagine Creative Marketing. “If you send a message recipients are interested in receiving, you will get their attention and your campaign will be a success. However, if your message is not relevant to their interests or current needs, they will most likely ignore it, or even worse, unsubscribe from your database and you’ll never be able to communicate with them again!”
There are four main elements of a successful permission-based email campaign: segmenting the database, enhancing the existing database, communicating with the database and tracking the campaign. Let’s look at each.
Segmenting the database: So now you may be thinking, “Not all of the people in my database have the same interests. What should I do?” Before you send out a campaign, you should segment your database into several groups of people who share specific traits, whether it be age, gender, hobbies, job function, purchase history or some other attribute. Take all the information you already have about the people in your database and put it to good use. This exercise will also provide insight into the type of information you will want to gather moving forward to better segment your database in the future.
Enhancing your existing database: When you initially segmented your database, you probably thought about what type of information would help communicate with your customers and prospects. Make a list of the most important things (i.e.: age, gender, magazines subscriptions, job function, industry, geo, etc.) and incorporate these questions related to each into all of you opt-in forms and order forms. The fields should be the same across the board. That way, you consistently collect the relevant information from all new customers and prospects. If possible, create drop down menus for these fields to standardize the way information is fed into your database. Once you’ve incorporated everything into your opt-in and purchase forms, you might want to send out a survey to your existing database to gather this missing information. An enticing premium will increase your response rate. But remember, the premium should be enticing to your target audience, not yourself.
In addition, it is very important to keep good records of what people are buying, when and for how much. These sorts of buying patterns, combined with demographic data, will also prove very valuable for future marketing campaigns.
Communicating with your database on a regular basis: This is where the demographic information and the buying records come in handy. Let’s say you sell gloves, hats and scarves. Some of your customers have purchased red women’s gloves, but not the matching red hat and red scarf. This suggests that you send them an email with information on a special for the matching hat and scarf. However, you will probably want to send a different email to the women who purchased the grey gloves—and still a third email offer for men’s accessories to the men in your database. “You should customize your permission-based email marketing efforts to appeal to specifics,” says Dan Forootan, President of the StreamSend Email Marketing Service. “By doing this you can greatly increase both your sales and revenue.”
“Its important to communicate with your customers and prospects on a regular basis,” adds Penn. “But you need to have a good reason for communicating with them, one that brings value in some way. If you’re opt-out rate is high, it’s a good indication that its time to rethink your messaging as well as how frequently you are communicating with your database.
Track your campaigns: Tracking the results of your campaigns will enable you to determine what’s working and what’s not. One easy way to do this is to incorporate a field in all your forms called “offer code.” Assign a specific code to each email campaign you send out. Be sure to give people an incentive to use the offer code when responding.
After each campaign expires you should analyze the results, including how many people you sent the email to, how many emails were delivered, how many people clicked through and how many people opted-out (most email marketing systems will give you these stats). The number of people who responded using the campaign offer code will enable you to calculate the campaign response rate.
The more information you gather about the people who receive your emails, the better you can “paint a picture” of your “ideal customer.” These are the people who bring you the most profits. And you definitely want more customers like these!
Neil Anuskiewicz is the Marketing Manager for EZ Publishing