The following is a guest article from a colleague John Hayes from iContact. I first met John via LinkedIn a few months back and we had a call and laid foundation for further communications.
After meeting John at the NEC for the Internet Retailing conference a few weeks back, it was only natural that when it came to looking at providers for the email marketing campaigns that were being worked on, that iContact would be a natural choice.
When the pricing turned out to be exactly the same as the other parties we were considering and the company being used for the marketing, said, “Yes, our largest client uses iContact”, that was it, the order was in.
As you’ll see from the article below, email marketing, just like business in general really is a personal affair. I’ve enjoyed reading the article, I’m sure you will do too.
Email Marketing – How to win friends and influence people
Put aside all the science around the art of selling for one minute. The first lesson in any sales course should be the basic fact that people buy from people they like.
If you don’t have chemistry with your clients you can kiss goodbye to their business.
As with any relationship, selling is a two-way street. It’s about engaging your clients in a conversation and like any decent conversation it is as much about listening as it is about talking.
In the online environment, where we are all getting more social, this has never been more important. The Shotgun approach to marketing just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is equally as true in a tried and tested medium such as email marketing as it is on the social networks like facebook and twitter.
How to lose friends and disenfranchise people
Bombarding your clients with untargeted, irrelevant and seemingly desperate sales messages will more likely turn your customers into ex-customers than win any repeat business.
Let’s look at an example of how a good deal turned sour when a lazy marketer didn’t want to make friends with me.
Attracted by a cheap park and fly offer at an airport hotel, I booked a family room the night before an early morning flight leaving the car in the hotel car park for the duration of my vacation. The hotel experience was OK, with smooth transfers to and from the airport, and I was more than happy with the cost which was only slightly more expensive than a week’s parking at a nearby airport car park.
And then the emails started arriving.
Seaside breaks, city breaks, wedding packages, free dinning, two nights for the price of one, turkey and tinsel Christmas breaks, happy hours – you name it, they sent it. Relentlessly. I received an email from them every single day until eventually I hit the unsubscribe button.
It was as if they were desperate for my business (I guessed they were having cash flow problems). They didn’t take the time to get to know me and swamped me with offers I just wasn’t interested in. The experience left a bad taste in my mouth and I’ll probably never stay with them again.
How they could have won me as a friend
The hotel had a lot of information about me and my family. They knew my home address, marital status and the age of my kids. They knew which airport we used, the airline we were flying with and our final destination.
From this information they could have made some educated guesses and targeted their email marketing campaigns more appropriately. They could have even used email to get to know me a little better by following up on my stay with a short survey. Just a little thought and a little targeting and we could have been friends.
Let’s work at this relationship
Email Marketing is perhaps one of the most mature marketing techniques available to today’s online marketers. So why do apparently sophisticated companies continue to blast out irrelevant, untargeted and plain boring emails.
The fact is Email Marketing works. Even for lazy marketers (like the above un-named hotel chain) email remains one of the most cost effective and successful marketing techniques available. Return on investment from Email Marketing can be staggering with an ROI of more than 600% not uncommon. But a failure to effectively target and engage with your customers will ultimately result in failure.
Just because something works in the short-term doesn’t mean it couldn’t be even better in the long term with a little time and effort in building relationships.
You might think you have a great offer that you need to shout about – but when you are selling to your friends the message really shouldn’t be all about you. It should be about your customer’s individual needs, desires and interests. Make them feel part of your business and not just source of income and they’ll stay friends with you for years to come.
John Hayes – iContact, EMEA Business Development Executive
iContact is a purpose-driven company working to make email marketing and social marketing easy so that small and mid-sized companies and causes can grow and succeed.
For a free 30 day trial of iContact’s Email Marketing software visit http://genieandthegeek.icontact.com