The news these days from Wall Street and the Halls of Congress could not be worse for marketers already worried about the recession and consumer and business spending in Q4.
Can email help? I think so. In fact, I think now’s the time to prime your email program into a powerful revenue channel, before the news gets worse. Come on, we were the “killer app” of Web 1.0. It’s well past time we proved our worth in the Web 2.0 marketing mix
Here are three ideas to test now – and use the data to build your program success for Q4 and into 2009. If email doesn’t contribute more now, then we can’t expect to remain at the center of the marketing mix, or budget.
Then, deliver the benefits via email – a very efficient and effective way to connect. If you are ecommerce, add a Buying Guide or Gift Guide to the loyalty package. If you are B2B, invite your best customers to participate in online events and interactive networking. Help them build their business and they will continue to support yours. Be sure to tap the next tier down of buyers and expand the reach of your program. Invite current members to bring a friend or colleague along, and reward them both.
Sampling, which reaches 70 million consumers every quarter, is great at building a stronger brand connection – along with trial of course. You might be wondering what’s the email equivalent of sampling. Try packaging up testimonials or examples of unusual product utility and feature them via email to encourage a repeat purchase. Allow a coupon code to zero out the balance in the shopping cart (free shipping would likely be welcome but I don’t think is essential). Make it clear that subscribers who get a free sample will be invited to share feedback via email. Invite first time buyers and likely prospects to participate in an online forum, one time survey or virtual user group in exchange for a sample. Free sample emails will also be incredibly viral, so be sure to encourage that additional reach as well as manage fulfillment and govern subscriber limits.
If you can, test it with a control group this month. Segment a small portion of your file (maybe 5%) and send half as many promotional messages, but replace 25%-50% of them with relevant content, tips or interactive offers. See if revenue increases or decreases. Also watch deliverability, complaint rates and activity per subscriber. Let me know if you want help constructing the test and measuring results.
Use the results of all these ideas to make the case for stronger subscriber-centric approaches to email marketing. We may not be the exciting, new belle of the marketing mix any longer, but that is no reason to sit back and squander an opportunity to build an effective and revenue-producting dialog with our subscribers.