Part of the
Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
Updated: November 13, 2007
Are you getting the most out of
your email campaigns? Are you reaching the right people with the message they
need to make a buying decision? Are you sending out enough emails to generate
results? What is the proper amount of emails? Do you have the reverse problem
and you are turning off your customers with too much of a good thing?
Whenever you send out emails you need to ask yourself some simple questions.
Who are you sending the email to? Have they requested the email? Why are you
sending the email? When should you send the email? What do you want the
recipient to do when they get your email?
Why Should I Send Emails
There are many reasons to send emails. Send them to your customers after they
buy to thank them for the purchase. People loved to be thanked. There is a
story I read years ago about the best car salesman that ever lived, Joe Girard.
He claims most of his success came from repeat sales and referrals all because
he ... sent his customers thank you cards. After the purchase, after a
referral, and after a question. If there is one thing I learned in my 13 years
of direct mail, it is that once you gain a customer it costs less to keep that
customer and help them buy again than to find a new customer. So, by thanking
your customers you help raise the chance of a repeat sale.
Send emails to people who have requested an email subscription from you. This
is a no brainer. They have been to your website. Obviously, they saw something
they liked and now all you have to do is encourage them to come back. The more
often they come back the greater your chance to get a paying customer. You have
to give them a good reason to come back. Talk about what's new on your website
or in your store. Do you have new equipment to help them meet their needs? Do
you have new employees that can help them with their problems? Are there new
federal regulations that they need to be informed about? Send them information,
pictures if you can, surveys, talk about your specials, talk about new products
about to be delivered, what they need to do during the current season and why
they should come in to see you. Now.
Encourage Customers to Buy Something
What if a customer gets to your order form and then abandons your site?
Encourage that person to come back and buy. Let them know that you know they
were "this close" to buying. Maybe send them a coupon for a discount on that
purchase. (Yes, some of your customers will catch on to this trick and will try
to abuse it; but you can watch for this behavior.) How do you know they made it
to the order form? Many sites now require an email address to get to the order
form. Give them 30 minutes to come back on their own and then nudge them to
come back. Try it again in 24 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours or some combination.
Who knows why they hesitated right at check out. Maybe they were buying a gift
for someone and that someone entered the room. Maybe they were concerned about
the price and wanted to check out your competitors. They might just have had
second thoughts about the purchase. Help put them in the mood with a discount
or some other incentive to come back and buy right now.
Does your email just provide information or is there a Call to Action?
What do I mean about a call to action? Are you giving the customer or email
recipient a good reason to come back to your website or to print out your news
and come into the store? I can think of about 5 companies that send me emails
regularly. I get the Border's Bookstore emails weekly. They tell me about all
the new books and also give me coupons worth 10 to 30% on bestsellers and CDs.
TicketMaster sends me an email once a week encouraging me to buy tickets for
another popular show. The Code Project will communicate with me daily with
interesting news bits. These are nothing more than a teaser headline and a well
written sentence or two to draw me into the actual article on their website.
John James Santangelo will send me his Motivational Mondays email.
And you know I get it every Monday. Of course there is also JC Penny, Dr Dobbs,
Oberweis Dairy and the local movie theater.
The Dirty Little Secret I Learned from Direct Mail
Another little bit of information I learned in direct mail. Most people have a
dirty name for direct mail, it is also called junk mail. We used to hate that
terminology, because our clients would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to
have us create, prepare, print and mail their direct mail pieces. It wasn't
junk to them. But, the secret I learned? Direct mail pieces are only junk mail
if there isn't something there you want. So, if you are a guy, you probably
think the mailer from JC Penny is junk mail. But, your wife probably loves it.
But, you can't wait to get the latest piece from Ford, Chevy or Harley
The same way with emails. They are only junk when you don't want them or don't
see value in them. Otherwise they are like little treasures. Give each person
who receives your emails good reason to believe they are receiving the keys to
hidden treasure. Write the email so the person reading it believes you are
talking directly to them. They don't have to know you emailed it to 500, or
5,000 or 50,000 people or more. They think they are the only one on your list.
How Often Should You Send Emails
How often should you send out emails? Should you send something out daily,
weekly, biweekly, monthly or quarterly? That is a tough question to answer. You
have to be able to determine the value of the email. What does it cost in time
and resources to prepare it and send it? Are you adding value to the
prospective customer when you send it out? Are there well written articles that
the customer will read if they have the time? Articles the customer is
interested in reading or might like to share with a friend. How often do you
need to send the customer a discount coupon? Are the emails simple little
messages to keep your name in front of them like the Motivational Mondays one
line inspirational message? Or do you hire a staff of marketing and design
people to put together 2 to 4 pages of hard sell material with photos? What are
your business needs? I would recommend for the small business person who is
running a one person to 5 person office, probably once a month is sufficient.
Follow the CAN SPAM act. If someone requests to be removed from your list, then
remove them from your list. Don't play games with this. Don't say, oh they only
want to be removed from the Chevy Trucks list not the Chevy cars. This is a
fairly sophisticated law that you do not want to be on the wrong side of. It
can cost you or your company a ton of money. So, don't spam.
Once you have your email campaigns created, then you need some kind of tracking
mechanism. How do you know if your emails are producing results? You should
create some process of knowing when you sent out an email and see if it
generated revenue or traffic to your website or store. This can be an Excel
Spreadsheet with date of email and traffic scores. Or you can add a little
query string to each link in your email so you know where the traffic is coming
from. Is it direct traffic or organic traffic? How do you know if you are
winning the game if you aren't keeping score?
Good Luck with Your Email Campaign
I hope this will encourage you to push away from the dock and begin an email
campaign with your subscription list. Start small. You don't want to make it
into a big production that you can't maintain on a regular basis. There are
companies out there that will help you with your subscribers and email formats
and will even send them out for you. Find the right mix of technology and
personalization so you can increase website traffic and see a bump in