Think Before You Blast

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E-mail once promised to be the low-cost, touch-of-a-button answer to direct marketers' prayers. But from authentication standards to spam filters, e-mail has become a dynamic communication channel requiring constant focus. As with other media touch points, consumers are expecting and receiving more control over how and when they receive e-mail.

Though this may seem like a negative development, it means stronger response rates and fewer bounce-backs. Smart marketers are taking it a step further, using e-mail to build customer insights and trust. Before you plan your next e-mail campaign, consider the following:

Use e-mail for new business, not new customers. CAN-SPAM and permission marketing best practices make e-mail a relatively inefficient tool for prospecting. Remember the Marketing 101 tenet: "The fastest way to gain new business is from existing business." Many companies focus on customer acquisition instead of recognizing the value of existing customers.

Append your database to identify those valuable existing customer e-mail addresses. Many companies have extensive databases full of customer information, yet e-mail addresses are lacking or not maintained. Because you already have established a relationship with these customers, e-mail appending often enhances your marketing plan.

And don't forget lapsed customers. Append former customers' e-mail addresses, too. In most market segments, you are more likely to reactivate these customers than obtain new ones.

Think beyond the blast. It seems so easy. Buy an e-mail file, append your database and blast a campaign. But before you blast, have clear-cut strategic goals in mind.

  • How does this e-mail fit with other messages?
  • Should the entire list receive the message?
  • Do different customer segments require different messages?

Avoid blasting for the sake of creating marketing activity. Just because it's low cost and easy to execute doesn't mean it's the most effective marketing technique.

Use e-mail appends to expand customer touch points. Reverse e-mail appends can provide missing data fields such as telephone numbers or mailing addresses. If possible, ask for the customer's preferred means of communication before you implement.

Customers understand spam and expect companies seeking their business to be respectful and attentive to their preferences. Being thoughtful about expanding your database and honoring customer requests can build relationships and trust. Once considered optional, personalized greetings and crystal-clear subject lines are expected. We have less time than ever to make the first impression, all the more reason we need to think before we blast.


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