Three Overlooked Email Marketing Truths
Kevin Gao, Comm100
Before marketers start any email marketing campaign, they should keep in mind several key truths about email marketing in the broader sense as it pertains to branding, customer lifecycles, and the consumer purchasing process.
Email marketing is a fundamental branding tool
Email marketing remains one of the best and most direct ways to establish both brand awareness and brand recall. Why? Because it cost-effectively delivers messaging to a targeted group that has “opted-in” to receive the message. The customizable aspect of email allows brands to tailor themselves to specific groups, presenting them with the right brand messages. It's an ideal platform to convey the brand's identity on the address line, subject line, and email content imagery.
Marketers should carefully consider email subject lines so they align with the company's overall messaging. If your product is fun and whimsical, then your subject lines and email content shouldn't be too “corporate” or there will be a disconnect between the two. Consumers are smart and they pick up on such discrepancies, even if subconsciously, and those sorts of cues can cause them to feel uneasy about your brand.
The imagery of an email also plays a critical role. All images should have complementary colors and similar brand elements whether in your email, on social networks, or on the main site. To succeed you have to hit consumers with a multichannel approach, so pay close attention to how the company is presented at all times and ensure resources are allocated to crisp email design.
Email drives long-term relationships
Email marketing is also an ideal channel to build a long-term and prosperous customer relationship lifecycle, where the consumer's changing needs are met with timely messages. Email is more personalized than one-size-fits-all advertising. It can be easily customized so that email content and frequency are ideally structured to match customers at different lifecycle stages.
Customers in the “prospect” stage might receive messages that present basic product features and are essentially educating them on the brand's benefits. After a purchase is made, the consumer might receive offers for repeat or complementary purchases, or other email content that encourages additional revenue. If your company offers a service, the ongoing email dialogue might focus on how to get the most out of the service by presenting web training or best practices. As some customers drift into a “lapsed” stage, the emails might present special offers or call out impressive new features to reengage recipients and pique their interest. Customers who have not had contact with the brand in quite some time can receive some last-ditch efforts to pull them in, but at some point they should be relegated to “inactive” status so to avoid spam complaints.
Email influences the consumer purchasing process
A fundamental goal of any business leader is to understand the customer's purchase process. How do they go about deciding if your product or service is worthy, how do they evaluate your specific benefits, and then literally how do they make a purchase. For many businesses, the main driver for consumer purchases remains email marketing that is cost effective, fast, and easy to create. It's the main vehicle for telling consumers about sales, new products, and new features, all of which can encourage further engagement and further steps towards purchasing.
Savvy companies will use email to target all of the phases of the consumer purchase process. They can cover the earlier phases through emails that are educating customers or stimulating needs, basically “planting the seed” for ultimate purchases. Once prospective customers are introduced to the brand, more emails can provide deeper details, specific product benefits, and provide a sense of scarcity or timeliness. Next would be sales or promotional emails that serve as purchasing triggers for those customers who are not yet convinced that they need your product.
Don't target only old databases of existing and past customers, some of whom might not have taken any action in years. Fast responses and real-time communication are the goals of all marketers, and email automation enables messages to go out at the spur of the moment. It can be a powerful tool to congratulate customers on a purchase, recommend a complementary product, or even offer a live chat session after the customer visits an FAQ. The immediacy of email and its ability to quickly provide needed information and answers makes it a vitally important marketing channel, especially for today's customers who demand companies to be responsive.
Email marketing is still cost-effective, and improved technology tools enable companies of any size to build well-designed emails in minutes. Despite the broad appeal and reach of social media channels, email marketing remains a vital channel for businesses that want to improve their brand and encourage long-term purchasing.
Kevin Gao is president and CEO of Comm100.