Take Aim With Email Marketing

Do not think that once you have got a customer to tick the box and come onto your email list the work is over as the real effort has only just started. The legislation makes it only too easy for someone to remove themselves from your list so you should target your efforts at encouraging them not to do so.

The fundamental principles of customer retention are simple enough. If the promise was to deliver between 09.00 and 13.00 on a specific day, then the previous afternoon is as much a failure as a day late. The product must be the one ordered, as described and at the agreed price. All fairly basic procedures that you ignore at your cost. For email marketing there are additional requirements, such as an acceptable and accessible privacy policy.

But a major advantage of direct email marketing is that an effective infrastructure enables precise targeting. Intelligent, data-led classifying of customers means that you do not bother those who would not be interested in a specific product while still being able to identify those whose interest might be grabbed by a well produced marketing email offering something they would not normally buy from you. But be aware that there is a limit to how many times a customer will open an email that probably has no relevance to them.

Whilst individually targeted emails might well give good responses, they are impractical for all but the smallest companies. So some form of classification is essential to ensure that different customers are handled according to their history, potential and needs.

A database should be flexible enough to pinpoint different targets. For instance for Business to Business you would want to know business size, products, their general client demographics, the specific responsibilities of the person you address your emails to and, especially in these days, if they are expanding or contracting. For the public, you would want to know age, gender, education, occupation, location and interests. The more comprehensive the information the more targeted the email.

A rough general classification could be those who buy the most; those whom you feel could be encouraged to increase their quotas; those who are regulars; those who might be about to tick the opt-out box.

The kind that should be kept at almost all costs is your biggest customers. These should be made to feel as if they are important to you as that is what they should be. Make them special offers as a ‘thank-you’, allow them first options on goods and ensure that they never pay more than your other customers. Keep a close watch on their performance, especially for indicators that point to the possibility of them going elsewhere. This should generate action on your behalf to get them back into the fold. Also any interest in new products must be followed up to ensure that they come on board with you for all their needs that you can supply.

Almost as important to you are those whom you can develop. It might be a large company that is only using you for a low percentage of their online purchases. An offer which undercuts their main supplier might well arrive at the buyer’s inbox at the same time as one from his boss demanding cuts. Your previous excellent service might well tip the balance.

Identify the little and often regulars. A twice monthly order of just £200 is probably worth more to you than twice yearly ones of £2500. Further, an email which encourages a slight increase in the fortnightly order needs to be assessed with a multiplier of 26.

Any sudden or persistent decrease in orders needs to be picked up at an early stage. Is there a specific item that customers are no longer ordering and is this a common trend? If so then your product needs to be modified in some way to make it more attractive. A competitor might well be undercutting you or supplying a better product at the same price. Direct email marketing allows these trends to be identified much earlier than other forms but this is only of use if such information is acted upon immediately. Take advantage of the short run-in time of direct email marketing.

Targeting of emails limits that most pernicious bad practice of sending offers which have no relevance to the receiver. Of all things most likely to generate a tick in the opt-out box, an inbox full of irrelevant emails with the same From address comes in very high.

Consider what those who bought a specific item might be looking for and when. On the assumption that you did not shortchange the customer with the original cartridge, it is of limited use to send an email offering reduced prices of cartridges a week after they have taken delivery of a laser printer. But if previous customers generally lasted three months before buying them then get your emails out after ten weeks, perhaps with a ‘regular customer bonus’. Similarly those who bought a specific software programme in the past might well have opted for a plug-in within weeks of their purchase.

Bulk Emails that are not targeted can be wasteful in two specific areas: of resources and of customers. Concentrate on defining the latter to ensure your aim is spot on.

Johns Nesa is a freelance author who has the vast knowledge in targeted email marketing and bulk email marketing. For more information on email marketing she suggests you to visit:

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