Email marketing is a common way to stay in touch with customers.
Every week or month, you can send out a simple (or elaborate) Enewsletter that highlights products, talks about your services, or includes special offers for the customers on your list. Emerging email technology is often a response to market changes, and it can have an impact on how you move a customer conversation to the next level.
Email providers like Google (Gmail) and Microsoft (Outlook) have built increasingly smart algorithms and filters to keep unwanted emails out, but that sometimes means that even the good stuff does not get through. You will need the latest email technology simply to show up in a person’s inbox, and the only way to keep up, in some cases, is to use an outside service, such as MailChimp, Infusionsoft, or HubSpot. Here are a few of the tech pieces you will want to look for from a provider:
- Mobile responsiveness. This means your email looks good on mobile and on desktop. Personalizing beyond “Dear John.” There are tools that allow you to pull from a variety of data about a customer, such as shopping preferences, hobbies, and so on.
- Behavior-based marketing tools. This is explained a bit more below, but these tools let you keep a conversation moving automatically (mostly). This is partly tied to the “big data” trends you have heard about during the past few years.
- Analytics. Deliverability rates and tools will help you succeed in reaching and truly conversing with a customer.
Keys to optimizing your efforts
- Use the tools at your disposal. According to Todd Lebo, partner at demand generation firm Ascend2, “59 percent of marketers are only using a limited amount of the marketing automation tools.” Most of the smart technology available allows you to communicate with customers based on actions they take, from a purchase to “abandoning the shopping cart” to clicking on a link in a newsletter. Staying in touch with customers at every stage of the interaction can keep them involved with your brand. This is sometimes called drip marketing, but it’s far more intelligent now.
- Automate it (carefully). Tyler Garns, founder of Box Out Marketing, offered these insights on keeping your email marketing relevant, personal, and consistent: “When used correctly, marketing automation allows you to automatically respond to customer actions in personal, relevant ways. It’s powerful and saves a ton of time for small businesses that are typically running on limited resources. The danger is in over-utilizing this technology. Savvy customers can sniff out automated communications, and when that happens, you lose credibility.”
- Build a process. Any of these tools allow you to create a process, or what HubSpot calls a workflow based on the content you have to offer and the customer’s experience and action. Let’s walk through a hypothetical example: You offer a free, downloadable ebook on your website. When someone fills out the form to download that eBook, they have expressed a higher level of interest in your business. Typically, a business would send a thank-you message with the download link. That’s a good thing. However, an automation process would allow you to trigger a series of emails to be sent, over a period of time, around that ebook’s topic. You might know from your website analytics software and your sales history that people who download that particular ebook buy another product from you within three months. So you schedule messages to occur over that time, mixing in useful information in one message and a gentle sales message in another. Perhaps as you get closer to the end of that period, you make a discounted offer or a buy-one, get-one-free offer, or whatever works for your product.
Ultimately, email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to stay in touch with customers. By using the best tech marketing tools and automation, you can continue to nurture the conversation after setting up different trigger points when additional messages get sent. It saves you time and serves the customer.