Best practices for successful email marketing
How can I make my email marketing campaigns more successful? One of the first tasks you’ll need to do is analyze the purchase patterns (or life cycles) of your products and services. In addition you need to review purchase patterns of your prospects, new customers and repeat customers. Once this review and analysis period is complete, you will use your findings to create content that is relevant (and equally important,) target specific content to specific prospects. The final part of this exercise will be looking at when and how often to send your email communications.
Part One: Understand the life cycle of your products and services
These cycles will affect the content, frequency and timing of your mailings. Below are three examples of typical product and service life cycles.
1. Cycles with a beginning and an end – such as events and recruitment. With events the cycle is: Build interest. Find exhibitors. Recruit speakers. Get attendees. Hold event. Information about the event is not relevant once the event has occurred, (though, you may want to move attendees into the next cycle to hear about the next event). With recruitment, job seekers are on a focused mission and eagerly seeking lots of relevant information, therefore they want to hear from you often. Once they have the new job they typically don’t want to receive any further information. It is not timely or relevant to them any longer.
2. It is part of an ongoing cycle – This can be the beginning of a long cycle of your relationship with a prospect. Monthly newsletters are excellent at taking prospects (or existing customers) through the entire cycle of their relationship with your company: e.g. prospect – new customer – repeat customer.
3. It moves from one cycle to another – a potential customer may be searching the web for information about a product or service they are interested in purchasing. The intensity of the interest and time frame in which they need to make a purchase varies. By capturing them in a newsletter sign up form on your website you can warm them up (also known as nurturing) with the intention to move them from possible prospect to new customer.
Part Two: Understand your prospect’s purchasing process or cycle
The decision making process for a purchase also affects the frequency and timing of your mailings. While B2C mailings can include an element of impulse buying, B2B mailings will normally have more people involved in the sign off of a purchase. In either instance, the general purchase process looks like this:
1. A problem or need is identified by a customer/company.
2. They begin a search for information – This is a critical period to reach your prospective customers – often the beginning a dialogue with them, whether through a visit to your website, or via contact from an event. Email marketing can help nurture this relationship as they work through the decision-making process.
3. They evaluate choices and alternatives – Here’s where your expertise, experience and knowledge will be critical in helping them decide to purchase from you. There may be a long cycle between researching, reviewing/evaluating and the actual purchase – this will largely depend on your product and service.
4. They make the purchase – If they purchased your products or services, congratulations – you now have a new customer! Now the work shifts from customer acquisition to building customer loyalty.
5. The post purchase evaluation – Here’s where your email newsletter, which has been building loyalty and providing customer care, can help ensure that they are a repeat customer.
Next week: Best practices for determining the frequency of email marketing