Making Inroads To Customer Inboxes

Small Business PR

BizEngine Blogger Dave Choate is taking the 16-part Inbound Marketing University online course. He’ll share what he learns from each lesson with readers over the course of the next two weeks.

Thanks to the site migration, some of these posts have gone the way of the dinosaur. We’ll be re-posting them so you can have access to the great advice we’re getting from IMU.

E-mail marketing is among the most widely-used ways to reach customers. It’s also arguably the one fraught with the most danger of completely turning people off from your company, given that it can be morph at any time into an annoying blitz campaign.

In this, the ninth video from Inbound Marketing University, instructor Eric Groves is adamant about e-mail’s efficacy as a tool. The senior vice president of Constant Contact, Groves knows a thing or two about delivering consumers e-mails that draw interest to a company, as his firm specializes in building e-mail campaigns for just that purpose.

It’s about “grabbing your brand and your essence and delivering it along with a very powerful message,” according to Groves.

Taking Advantage of E-mail

It may be tempting, to paraphrase Crusades-era monk Arnaud Amalric, to e-mail them all and let God sort ‘em out. But that approach misses the mark, Groves said.

The emphasis when building your list should be on quality over quantity. You can hit disinterested customers with e-mails all day long and succeed only in alienating them. Instead, Groves recommends building your list around customers who have a genuine interest in your business and would benefit from your newsletters or promotions.

Knowing your customers and your company can also help you determine how frequently you should be sending out blasts. Maybe it’s a monthly newsletter, a weekly promotion or a daily collection of relevant links and news snippets, but it should be tailored to customers first and foremost. The more frequent the use, the more likely you are to fatigue your customers, so bear that in mind.

That’s not to say a monthly newsletter is clearly the way to go. If you’ve got 14 excellent pieces of content, Groves notes, it’s not necessarily a smart idea to blow all of them on a single newsletter that’s stuffed to the gills. Instead, it’s better to use the content on several newsletters spread out over time, easing the workload on your marketing department.

Timing And Format Are Key

Two other important factors need to be highlighted for e-mail campaigns, Groves said.

At the top of the list is timing. While it may seem like a good way to build buzz for a giant sale or other event, sending out an e-mail notifying customers about it two weeks in advance is unlikely to have the desired effect. Groves said nearly 80 percent of responses to e-mail campaigns come within 48 hours, making that a target for anything time-sensitive.

In general, that’s a good philosophy to carry with you as you build campaigns. The very nature of e-mail is that they draw an initial response and then are forgotten under a pile of fresh e-mail. Target an immediate response to an immediate marketing effort and you’ll have better results most of the time.

Format is also important. Groves suggests grabbing attention in the subject line by spicing up the language you use, as well as using a clear, easy-to-navigate format and an effective call to action. Anything that compels a customer to open the e-mail and potentially click through to the site is critically important, he added.

“They need to care,” he said.

Comment on your own experiences with e-mail marketing campaigns in the comments.

About the Author

Dave Choate is the lead writer for BizEngine, longtime blogger and voracious reader of all things business and news. Dedicated to delivering small business news, information and analysis that matters.

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