blog3My experience in online marketing started with email marketing. I saw my first HTML email message in late 1999 thinking it was a thing of beauty that could transform direct communications. I was not alone.

Back then, all of the marketing managers I presented to in my previous role had the same opinion and the company’s client list grew at speed. Email marketing was a very popular subject area at the time. The company I worked for did a good job at captilizing on this with a very effective (think pushy) PR company shoving me in front of reporters at every opportunity.

Moving forward 14 years and a few things have changed. Email marketing is now seen as an “old school” form of online marketing – being at the opposite scale of it’s “uber cool” social media cousin. Nevertheless from the results that I see our clients achieve with this channel, there are still some amazing results available for those willing to invest the time.

With email there’s no hype, no complex buzz words, no promise of large societal change – just straightforward campaign tactics that make sense. These are campaigns that every business should have running as they apply to problems that most businesses need to solve. Thirteen years of experience supports its use. So what are you waiting for?

Here are four of these problems that suit email so well:

Problem #1 – Your are a different company than you were a year ago but nobody knows.

The humble email newsletter. This was the first strategy people began with back in 1999 and to this day it is probably the one that applies to most businesses today. For those who want to know – it makes sense to keep in touch and let them know what has changed.

So if you sell capital equipment across New Zealand and Australia, your purchasers may not be the right audience for a message each month – they may not need to buy again for another 10 years. However the dealers who represent you are ideal. What tips and tricks can you provide to help them sell more or know more about your product?

Sending an email newsletter is a strategy that should fit in every business or else there’s a bigger problem that needs work. If you can’t think of anyone who would value what you will say, or you have nothing to say, then things are quite dire.

Problem #2 – It’s taking prospects too long to decide to buy.

In this month’s customer conference call we talked about delivering online marketing to help close sales that take time. In these situations the lead may arrive in mid February but the purchase order isn’t confirmed until say the end of July. Many businesses have either some or all of their products / services fitting within this category.

What you say and how you say it between these extended periods can make all the difference to the likelihood of success. Generally a mix of communication styles – face to face, phone, direct mail and even email are required to all work seamlessly together to move things along.

The smart marketers – those who want to manage the sales process as much as they can – employ each and every one, and within this some good old email marketing can work wonders.

It could be a simple monthly email message that introduces new features of the product that the prospect is not aware of. Perhaps one note that lists out some recent case studies that apply to their particular needs. Small, simple messages that ideally are run on auto pilot to help build some rolling momentum of sales activity.

Problem #3 – They bought before but not enough are buying again.

It could be another batch of office supplies, or maybe replacing their Revlon foundation using you instead of a local pharmacy. Whatever it is, usually you are trying to influence a decision that is made frequently and for which there are a few alternative buying options.

All of this is an ideal place for a humble piece of email marketing to fit. By sending on a frequency that makes sense to those that receive it and including a few relevant tempting offers, these types of messages make great commercial sense. That’s why the bond between e-commerce and email marketing is so strong. Working together they are a winning team.

How much they achieve is something that ideally you will be able to track inside your website analytics application with the traffic driven from your newsletter correctly tagged as its own individual stream.

Problem #4 Your customers are not being thanked for making the right decision.

Customers make many decisions that frequently go unacknowledged by those who benefit from them. Here are a few that initially come to mind from my own experience – leaving a hotel after staying three days over a long weekend, subscribing to an email newsletter, ordering my umpteenth piece of computer gear for the office from a supplier we have used for at least 5 years now, and agreeing to an appointment with someone from Telecom to talk about upgrading to the super fast Fibre Internet connection that is now available in Grey Lynn (they didn’t turn up :0).

All of these could have done with a short email of thanks that would have been greatly received and possibly even automatically generated. Not surprisingly, messages that are triggered by a customer’s behaviour are naturally better received than those which are triggered by a marketers desire to make money. It just makes sense.

So there you are. Four very basic problems each with a very basic form of online marketing that is ready and able to solve it. I would be very surprised to find a business that does not experience at least one of these four problems.

Next month why not think about how you can look at email marketing in another light with a specific focus on any of these four areas. And of course, do give us a call if you would like a chat about how we could help you out along the way.