E-Mail Marketing: Don’t Overcook That Golden Goose
E-mail’s ease of use has become its biggest burden as every department head pummels the company’s customer and prospect databases with message after message. Now publishers are on the offensive to better coordinate their e-mail communications and dig deeper into their customer databases to tease out more nuanced and focused market segments to target.
“We are communicating with some of our best customers maybe more than we should,” says Jerry Okabe, vice president of marketing for Prism Business Media, who says he has about 45 percent of his subscribers’ e-mail addresses. “We’re evaluating our opt-outs and whether or not they are increasing and we are sensing they have increased over the last six to 12 months.”
That’s changing priorities. “The buzz in the e-mail world is about deliverability, reputation and segmentation,” says Mark Priebe, president, Proximity Marketing. “The smart ones are doing a much better job coordinating their efforts among different departments—circ, edit, conferences, ancillary products, ad promos. They’ve realized they have to be careful about killing the golden goose of e-mail.”
“Everyone wants access to those e-mails,” says Heidi Spangler, circulation director at GIE Media. “People get so focused on how easy and quick it is they may start ignoring certain segments of their file. It’s important to not let e-mail define the value of that customer.”
Spangler points out that just because a customer has not provided an e-mail address, they’re no less valuable, and neither are other methods of reaching them. “There’s a tendency to lose sight of the value of the customer if they don’t provide an e-mail. But a fax number could work as well.”
Bobbie Macy, circulation manager for Penton’s design and engineering group, directs all e-mail marketing traffic through her office. “I end up being the point person for internal list usage,” she says, and adds that keeping a formal schedule in place and doubling up on messages helps avoid burning up customer in-boxes.
Macy also notes that the days of mass e-mails are, for the most part, over. Targeted, less costly campaigns to smaller sub-groups are yielding similar if not better results than yesterday’s practice of nuking an entire customer file.
Penton’s design and engineering group is currently investigating launching 16 new e-newsletters targeted to sub-segments of New Equipment Digest’s 210,000 subscribers. While the jury’s still out on whether the market can support 16 more newsletters, Macy knows that not all of the 210,000 subscribers will be notified of the new offerings. “For the survival of the list I would not recommend that,” she says. “I would love to say we’d want 50,000.”
And those fancy HTML marketing pieces? Try straight text with a more personalized message, which shouldn’t be too difficult with the extra information customers are providing as they sign up for products and services. “When we’ve done personalized e-mails, response increased five or six percent,” says Spangler. “With e-mail, it’s not always about how pretty it is.”
E-Mail Marketing Tips
Here are a few tips to better coordinate your e-mail marketing efforts.
1. Don’t discount customers who don’t have an e-mail address. Reach them via direct mail or fax.
2. Consider a third party. A vendor can negotiate the CAN-SPAM regulations for you and also know the best ways to get through spam blockers. “AOL blocked two-thirds of our e-mails when we did it in-house,” says GIE’s Spangler. “Eighty percent was delivered when we used a vendor.”
3. Consider personalized text-based e-mails.
4. Use e-mail for smaller, targeted blasts. A hot-list of 500-1,000 prospects doesn’t make much sense for direct mail.
5. Condense your campaigns. Double up a Webcast announcement with another event announcement to avoid flooding your market.
6. Keep a formal schedule the various departments must follow for their respective campaigns. Make sure your customers aren’t getting hit with e-mails arbitrarily.