Engage your customers with e-mail

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Consumer engagement has been one of the top marketing buzzwords for some time now, so many definitions and have been presented and debated.

In the spring of 2006, the MI4 Committee, a working group of major advertisers, agencies and associations presented a working definition of consumer engagement as "turning a prospect on to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context."

To better understand how this definition might be applied in the real world, we must take a closer look at how brands connect with customers. 

Engagement is simply attracting interested consumers, involving them with your brand, converting them to customers and developing loyal relationships over time.
According to the ad:tech 2005 Yearend Survey, marketers ranked e-mailing their house lists as one of the most effective marketing tactics.

Coming in second only to paid search ads and beating out rich media advertising, it's clear that for consumer brand marketers e-mail marketing to their in-house list is one of the most effective ways to engage and build lasting and profitable customer relationships. 

What makes e-mail so engaging? 

E-mail provides opportunities for immediate engagement through permission-based marketing. Consumers who have opted-in or asked for your e-mail communications are more likely to see and be receptive to your message.

More importantly, they respond to your call to action, whether that be purchasing your product, printing an online coupon or signing up for a promotional offer.
Bottom line, consumers are engaged by e-mail they want to receive.

E-mail is also powerful as an engagement tool because house lists can be segmented by consumer profiles, allowing you to deliver more targeted and relevant marketing messages.

Relevance is king when it comes to engaging consumers to not only open your e-mails, but also to respond by making a purchase or by telling you more about themselves.

Engaged customers who get the messages they want will buy more from you and will become passionate advocates for your brand and products.

E-mail marketing also helps you build a level of engagement with customers, generating loyalty and supporting retention efforts, which can be very valuable in driving profits for your brand.

According to Bain and Company, a 5 percent increase in customer retention yields profit increases of 25 percent to 100 percent. And repeat customers spend, on average, 67 percent more than new customers.

So now you're convinced in the power of e-mail marketing as a consumer engagement tool. The next question is, "How do I get started?" Simply follow these basic steps, and you'll be on your way to building stronger relationships with your customers.

First, understand who your customers are and what they are interested in. Then get consumers to sign up for your e-mail communications. Also, understand how to use the unique attributes of e-mail such as targeting, permission, segmentation, personalization and communication preferences. 

Obtain customer feedback and modify your e-mail communications accordingly.  If you need to build your in-house e-mail list with consumers that are interested in your brand, your first step is to partner with a trusted provider of online customer acquisition solutions.
  
Online channels provide a myriad of opportunities for consumer brand marketers to attract target consumers, introduce their brand, products and services, and begin building one-to-one relationships.

Vertically oriented Web sites, branded micro-sites and online polls are a few examples of the other vehicles marketers can use today for finding target customers. 

But when it comes to engaging customers closely based on their expressed interests and preferences, e-mail marketing continues to deliver as one of the most effective methods for consumer brand marketers today. 

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