Process makes perfect

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When it comes to your e-mail programs, are you on your toes or your heels? With e-mail marketing, you can shift from a reactive posture to a proactive stance that lets you engage and control interactions with customers. But how do you get to a proactive position?

Below are three processes you need to incorporate into your e-mail programs to achieve that proactive position. Incorporating the practices will have you executing relevant, timely e-mail marketing campaigns in no time.

Relevancy
Relevance is the most important aspect of e-mail marketing. Recipients are much more likely to act if what they receive is relevant to them. Don't offer a mortgage or a home-equity line of credit to a current borrower with an address, “Apt 357.” Similarly, it doesn't make sense to offer a free night at a family resort to a 65+ retired couple.

You must know something about your customers. For example, knowing a zip code or gender can help you make your messaging more relevant. Be sure to incorporate that information in your marketing messages. To take it to the next level, you need to have a complete picture of your customer. For many companies this data exists, but is often trapped in siloed databases. The value of data emerges once it is extracted and synthesized; the more relevant the message, the more successful the campaign.

Business rules
Business rules are tightly structured statements that define circumstances and desired actions. They determine when and which type of communication to send and usually follow a traditional If/Then structure: If the customer has not initiated a transaction within 60 days, Then offer 10% anti-churn discount. They document a business process: defining what you are seeking, deciding how to respond and automatically implementing the action.

To create business rules, start by writing them down. Ask yourself:
• When and how often do you want to engage?
• What data do you need to execute that communication?
• What constitutes “over-contacting” the customer?
Write the rules based on what you want to achieve. Next, depict those rules visually so you can see the flow of the communication and how it will look to the customer.

Granularity
Effective e-mail marketing campaigns offer a sophisticated set of synchronized, event-triggered, relevant messages that correlate to customer actions and personal information. By identifying and tightly defining business rules, you can automatically trigger timely and effective communications. By tapping all existing data stores, and building increasingly granular business rules, you will iteratively improve your campaign results and evolve from one-size-fits all messaging to customer-specific dialogues.

E-mail marketing is a highly measurable form of customer engagement that facilitates real-time assessments of the health of customer relationships. Executed correctly, e-mail continues to reign as the dominant component of an effective cross-channel marketing strategy.
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