If you haven’t yet launched a successful email marketing campaign, you have an amazing opportunity on your hands. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing delivers the very best ROI of any marketing investment. It’s better than TV, Radio, newspaper, social media and even SEM (Search Engine Marketing.) Since 9 out of 10 consumers check their email daily, and 6 out of 10 do it first thing in the morning – the inbox is where you want to be. But you have to earn the right to be there.
Last month I wrote about winning strategies and common pitfalls of running an email marketing campaign. This month, I’d like to address how to get started on the right foot.
First, I think it’s important that the entire management team buy in that email marketing works. Last year companies attributed 23% of their total sales to email marketing and 70% of respondents had used a coupon they received via email in the last month. Those numbers should get anyone’s attention. Our campaigns for furniture retailers have delivered millions per year in sales, so it’s definitely worth doing.
Next, it’s important to actually launch your campaign before beginning to collect email addresses. This in counterintuitive to some with the thinking that it would be smart to start collecting emails first, and then once there is critical mass – go ahead and launch a program. The reasons this is a flawed strategy are numerous but I’ll tell you the biggies. First, your people are not going to keep asking people for email addresses when they don’t have a good story about what it will be used for. Second is that email addresses get old and die, so you need to communicate immediately. If those two reasons aren’t enough, your messages will likely get labeled as SPAM when they start coming 6 months later because the recipients will have forgotten they gave you permission, and that will get you black listed resulting in all of your future efforts getting labeled as spam. So, be sure to officially launch your program before you start collecting emails.
When launching the program you’ll have an important decision – do you spiff or not? Since commissioned sales people will closely align their activities with their pay plan, this may be a smart move. But you have to then decide if you can accurately and easily measure their efforts, and also be able to detect fraud. Another idea is to have a kick off contest that rewards top collection performance for a limited time. This creates some excitement and gets the new habits formed. A few months after the launch, one of my favorite techniques is to have a “random contest.” The random contest is when you announce the winner of last month’s email collection contest. When your people exclaim that they didn’t know there was a contest running, you remind them how important email collection is and that you’re always measuring it, and “you never know when we’ll be awarding prizes.” Make sure the prizes are good for the best effect.
Speaking of salespeople, it’s absolutely critical that this group buys in to your new program. One of the techniques we implement with our campaigns is to make sure that all future email to that customer has the salesperson’s name included in the email. It doesn’t take long before your salespeople start seeing previous customers holding an email in their hand and asking for them by name, which will cement their new habits for life! Until then, they will need encouragement to have the faith that it’s in their best interests to ask for an email address with every sale. Be prepared to “inspect what you expect”, or your new program will certainly fall flat. Simply measuring and publicly posting collection percentage results may be enough to motivate competitive salespeople, but also be ready and willing to offer more training to those with challenges.
To get the best performance from your salespeople, you need to give them the proper tools. I’d highly recommend some role-playing as part of your launch. Write down the top 5 objections your salespeople think your customers will have, and make sure that each is addressed. One common one is “What are you going to do with my email address?” Salespeople should be well prepared to answer this question with something like: “Now that you are a customer of ours, we’d like to give you the VIP treatment. About once a month you’ll hear something from us that is actually interesting, and you’ll also be invited to private events and sales that we don’t advertise to the public. And of course we never share your email address. Since you can always unsubscribe with a single click, let’s give it a try!
In addition to your in-store efforts, you’ll need to make a decision of whether or not to collect email addresses on your website. If you have substantial web traffic, this can be an excellent way to gather prospects and then use email to get them in the door. We implement a “Supercollector” for many of our clients, which is about three times as likely to gather an email address than just having a form on your site. The Supercollector is a pop-up that asks the visitor if they would like to receive email. We have lots of tips around how to design this for best results, but mainly you should offer a great reason to sign up. Then we recommend you send these new prospects several emails spaced out over a period of time on your company’s USP (unique selling proposition). You’ll have to decide whether or not to include these people in future monthly emails, or only send the initial series and there are pros and cons to both approaches. To keep your list something special, you may want to keep your customer list separate from your prospect list.
By now you may be thinking about who on your executive team is going to handle email marketing? It can be a big job to shop for an email platform, implement it, and then keep it running correctly. You’ll also want to make sure your content is excellent and focused on your customers not on your company. If your messages are all about your next sale, you’ll lose the attention of your audience. With the amazing potential email marketing offers, you’ll want to make a serious commitment to your campaign. You may have a marketing executive that has experience in this area, or you may be wise to look outside your firm for a full service email marketing agency that can do all the heavy lifting so that you can stay focused on selling furniture. Alternatively, you may look for a hybrid solution – work with a firm to get you started, and then see if you have the ability to continue it on your own.
Hopefully the strategies above have given you the inspiration and confidence to launch your email marketing campaign successfully. Good selling!