15 Nov The Best Ways to Utilize Email in Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Instant messaging, website chatbots, social media interactions and live streaming make email communications seem almost quaint and destined to go the way of floppy discs and dial-up modems. However, the ability to send email messages to the right person at the right time and use email as part of a segmentation campaign makes your database of potential, current and prior customer email addresses a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal.
Our hyperconnected environment has upended the classic marketing funnel. Consumers no longer smoothly move along a path from awareness to purchase. Prospects may land on your website or social media properties at any point along their buying journey. They carry in their pockets devices that make it easy to research products, solicit recommendations from friends and read product reviews. They may first become aware of your business with TV, radio or print advertisement and then look you up online. They may be searching for solutions, exploring options, comparing you to your competitors, or they may be on the verge of making a purchase.
Email can nudge customers along by sending a call to action directly to their inboxes. It is an effective way to further branding efforts, engage prospects, acquire new business, retain current customers and re-engage inactive ones. Consumer interactions with your email messages can provide the information you need to segment your database by your prospects’ needs and interests.
Email Segmentation Campaigns
Email blasts to your entire subscriber list are inefficient at best. At worst, they could drive subscribers, who otherwise might be receptive to a targeted marketing campaign, to unsubscribe in an effort to purge their inboxes of irrelevant emails. Segmenting your subscriber list and tailoring campaigns to prospects that meet specific criteria will result in higher conversion rates.
Part of your digital marketing strategy will include marketing personas, and you will want to align these personas with the contact information you have collected from actual prospects. The type of information to collect includes demographics such as age, gender and income range, geographic location, shopping preferences, attitudes, beliefs and opinions. A segmentation email campaign can produce this information. An email may include hyperlinks to different offers, and a click on one will trigger a specific campaign. A form or survey email may give subscribers access to gated content and provide you with the details you need to best present your products and services to this subscriber.
For example, a travel agent may, in one email, list and link to several vacation packages — an outdoor adventure tour, a luxury Caribbean cruise and a family-orientated theme park vacation. How a recipient responds to these choices provides your marketing department with valuable information. Prospective clients may be further segmented by offering gated content — perhaps an eBook entitled, “Top 10 Travel Destinations in 20XX” — as a reward for answering a three-question survey about their current travel plans.
Email to build relationships
While the overarching goal of any marketing strategy is to increase profits, most of the groundwork will not immediately spike sales. The cost of acquiring new business may put you in the red as you initiate awareness campaigns and put forth loss leaders to attract new clients and customers. This will eventually pay off with an expanded customer base, but at this stage, your goal is to engage prospects and nudge them along so they may convert from being a stranger to a new customer. Email facilitates this process.
At the early stages of your relationship with a prospect, use email to introduce your company and list the benefits of subscribing to your email list. Send some of your most popular content and keep subscribers up to date on current promotions. Once a subscriber becomes a customer, send a “thank you for your purchase” email and suggestions on how to best benefit from the product or service. Suggest another purchase such as an accessory.
Email to promote products and services
Promotional email is the modern version of old-time direct mail campaigns and is a great improvement over mailboxes stuffed with 3rd-class flyers and brochures. Electronic mail is less costly than print media delivered via the U.S. Postal Service, and with the ability to finely segment your market, most promotions will be well received, not tossed as junk. Limited time sales and coupons with expiration dates will encourage recipients to act quickly, giving a boost to sales and triggering new campaigns as a one-time purchaser becomes a loyal customer.
Email to re-engage inactive subscribers
After 60 days of no response or action from a subscriber, send a “We have missed you” email. Tell inactive subscribers what they have missed and what benefits they can look forward to by maintaining a relationship with your business. Attempt to re-engage by making an offer – a discount on their next purchase or free shipping, for example. If the subscriber still does not engage, purge the email address from your database. Uninterested subscribers add to your costs without providing any benefits in return. You want to keep your list clean.
Your digital marketing strategy will include several goal-focused campaigns using a variety of tools. Email allows you to send personalized, targeted messages at critical points along the buyer’s journey. Far from becoming obsolete, email is an excellent tool to acquire and retain business, expand brand messaging and engender loyal followers.