Integrating e-mail with traditional marketing methods

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It is an unfortunate reality that, in many organizations, marketing is broken down in silos, and even though a company's message may be consistent from one channel to another, the channels do little to help one another.

Take e-mail, a function that is often treated as a separate channel even though it is proven to improve the performance of other traditional marketing methods.

With very little effort, smart marketers can use e-mail to improve the ROI of direct mail and more accurately target print, broadcast and online messages. On the flip side, marketers can leverage existing customer touch points to improve e-mail marketing programs.

Supporting direct mail

One example of how e-mail can be used to support traditional marketing methods is in conjunction with direct mail.

If you are a company that depends primarily on offline purchases, you can improve direct mail conversions by using e-mail before a drop. By sending an e-mail message in advance of a direct mail drop, you can prepare your audience in a way that will increase their recognition of — and place a higher value on — your catalog, coupon or brochure.

As with any e-mail, you want to make sure that the calls to action are clear and above the fold. It's also important when using e-mail to bolster other media to show some visual representation of that media in the form of an icon, inset or callout.

Data-level integration

Companies can target print, broadcast and online messages based on any number of criteria, but it can be difficult to collect the data necessary to segment your constituents.

One way to make it easier is to go slowly. Constituents are usually willing to offer up information in small amounts at first. If you use this little bit of data in a trustworthy manner, they may consider giving you more. E-mail is a great way to implement this technique of progressive profiling.

If you have access to data modeling and Web analytics applications, you can overlay that data to infer a great deal more about your constituents, and even use it for cross-selling, among other purposes.

Helping out e-mail

My recommendation to every company that engages in e-mail marketing is to identify every touch point your company has with constituents — customer service, technical support, brick and mortar points-of-sale, package inserts, direct mail, online shopping carts, theater ads, billboards, radio, banner ads, sweepstakes, affiliates, co-registrations, search engines, radio, television, etc. — and turn them into e-mail address collection channels.

By sending e-mail messages in conjunction with traditional marketing messages, you can increase responsiveness. By collecting e-mail addresses at every turn, your traditional marketing methods can extend the reach of your e-mail programs. It's a win-win proposition. And with a little creative thought, it can be a highly profitable one.

Doug Marshall is senior manager of service solutions and operations at Responsys. He can be reached at dmarshall@responsys.com.

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