Improve Your Results, Market Through Email

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oldguy2.jpgThe space between the email blast and any eventual sale is ripe with opportunities to enhance customer interactions and push the sales process along.

For some time now, email has been a popular and vital component of integrated marketing campaigns. Blasting out a promotional email allows marketers to quickly and easily reach audiences in a cost-effective way. Yet this broadcast approach has its limitations and despite the time spent crafting and editing campaigns, most often the analysis and scrutiny stops once the sent button is hit, perhaps picked up again later for a monthly report of opens and clicks.

Many of your marketing broadcasts will initiate interactions, first with your web site and ultimately with your sales, marketing or service team. Because email is an immediate medium, any initial interest that resulted in click interactions quickly dissipates. And yet here is where the opportunity lies. Email provides a built-in direct response and follow-up mechanism. Tracking actual click-through behavior enables companies to compile valuable research without having to incur extra costs. This type of information is no longer limited to broadcast email, as it is now available within everyday business email systems like Outlook. The ability to pinpoint leads as well as the messages and offers that pulled those leads from your target audience provides the know-how to sharpen the marketing and sales process, literally on an individual basis. By enabling more timely, relevant email follow-up, those initial sparks of interest may be fanned into flames and turned into revenue.

Most broadcast email companies are adept at tagging your email with their own “powered by” promotions, but instead, why not tag all your outgoing email with your own latest news, campaign or promotion? Smart marketers will take advantage of the thousands of email communications going on between your teams and your customers everyday – expanding the level of integration, reach and frequency of your campaigns, with something as simple as a standard signature or footer tag.

In most companies, sales, marketing and service staff have a set of prospects and customers with whom they communicate with on a regular basis. If they know exactly when individuals in this audience respond to a campaign, they can take more immediate, personal and relevant follow-up action. By using standardized, branded content embedded into their regular email, they can maintain the look, feel and messaging of the campaign while leading prospects through the interest, evaluation and purchase cycle. Monitoring clicks and interactions throughout this process provides multiple benefits. Sales people improve their productivity and timing by focusing in on the individuals expressing real interest through click behavior (and likewise, can send a follow-up to the inactive group to shake the trees) and the broadcast marketers are able to track results through a whole new level, monitoring the engagement of their audience with the company.

Yet most marketers never put this concept into action, relying only on web analytics or sales figures to measure if a message, offer or promotion is resonating successfully. Certainly these measures matter, however, a jump in site visitors doesn’t show you how many people on your list are actively engaged with your sales and marketing activities. And while sales are the ultimate measuring stick, how do you pick up the interested parties that slipped down the inbox, track lead interactivity and identify who is forwarding your messages and helping your sales efforts? The people forwarding your email along serve as word of mouth marketers themselves, so it makes sense to identify who they are and pay them some extra attention.

Why keep valuable data such as who opened the message, clicked on the links, read the attachments or forwarded it to a friend or colleague locked up in a broadcast-only email system?

The most useful feedback is usually immediate, like the email and website interactions themselves. A responsive feedback system is invaluable to marketing, sales and service professionals who may utilize the same measures in different ways to understand who the most likely prospects are, which leads are most interested and when to best follow-up with them. Measuring such follow-up activity allows the company to monitor the level of engagement with their entire customer and prospect list. Segmenting active and inactive customers and prospects typically yields more relevant and rewarding promotions.

Tracking interactions and filling the gap between broadcast marketing and sales activity is increasingly valuable, and like most things in business, success relies upon execution. There are several software options allowing users to track email responses and interactivity without annoying read-receipts or automated alerts. Such measures are relatively simple to implement within your everyday email tool, yet less likely adopted if every email user is forced to go outside their daily routine to a separate application in order to gain these critical tracking benefits. All you have to do to realize the opportunity, and then commit to following-through, turning your everyday email inbox into a sales and marketing machine.

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