Email Marketing – What Results Should I Expect?

One question we regularly get asked by clients is “When I send an email, what results should I expect?”.  Although it is a complex question, and the answer depends on a number of factors, we thought it would be worth sharing our experience on the subject. Firstly, and following on from my last post, I would like to consider the differences in results that you can expect from warm lists (people you already know and who had asked to receive email from you) and cold lists (bought in/rented lists of “opt in” addresses). As you can see(and as you would expect) the results for the warm lists are orders of magnitude better (another good reason to focus on those people you know). Secondly, looking at results for emails sent to a warm list, again, results can vary significantly, and are highly dependant on how interesting the email is and how good your offers are. The figures given in the chart about highlight typical results for an average informational email (blue) and the best results that you might expect for a highly targeted email with a very strong offer (red). Although these results can only be used as a rough guide, hopefully they will give you an idea as to how you should consider the results from your own emails.

Email Marketing Lists – The Options

We have talked a lot in this blog over the months about where to source email marketing lists, and have always suggested that the BEST source of lists is those people who already know you, and this is still our advice re best practice. But when is it legitimate to use bought/rented lists? Most people would say the answer to this is NEVER, and although I would agree that this should be the default position, there are exceptions in the B2B markets. The grid below gives a broad outline of the situation: In summary our recommendations are as follows:

  1. ALWAYS use warm (Lists of people you know) as the first option
  2. NEVER EVER use cold (bought in/rented lists) if you are targeting consumers – This is not allowed under EU/UK law
  3. If you are considering using a cold (bought in/rented) business to business list, do so with EXTREME caution, as using these lists “straight out of the box” will lead to no end of problems, even if they are from highly reputable sources.

If you are considering this option, I would suggest you read these posts on the subject first:

Pinterest – The Next Great Marketing Tool?

Many of you may have become aware of a new social media site that has been getting a lot of press recently. The site is called Pinterest and aims to allow you to create a virtual Pin board of sites that you find interesting. It then has the usual social media functionality allowing you to comment, share etc. The question is, should you devote time to developing a presence on it? As usual, there is no simple answer. On the face of it, Pinterest has potential, especially if you make significant use of images and videos in your business/marketing, as the site is very visual. However the big question is will people in your market use it? The early signs are promising, as (according to wikipedia) earlier this year it became the fastest site to reach 10 million users. but compare this with facebook’s 900 million (31million UK ) and Twitters 140 million (10 million UK ) and it still has a long way to go. Another thing to consider, is that it has been suggested that the vast majority of Pinterest users are women (techcrunch.com). As with most of these things I am certain it is not going to change the world. But could it be a useful SME marketing tool? In some cases yes I am sure it will, but as with all these things, it’s about knowing your market, and understanding whether this new tool has a place in your marketing mix to reach them.

Top Tips for post-summer marketing

The holidays are over! It never ceases to intrigue me how all things business wake up in September. It can be so frustrating trying to get decisions made during the summer yet as soon as the August Bank Holiday is past and children are back at school, suddenly things start to happen! With people actively looking at their business, now is a great time to get marketing so don’t let the demands of you existing customers distract you. Here are my 5 tips to help you really push your marketing forward:

1. Build and use your contact database

OK, keeping in touch is our mantra but marketing is about communication. One of the biggest hurdles we come across is companies not having a good target contact list. Everyone knows people but unless they are listed in a useable format, marketing to your existing contacts can grind to a halt almost before it starts. Building a database of your contacts can be one of the most valuable marketing actions you can take – and by ensuring you have email addresses for everyone you can keep in touch very cost-effectively. So what to do:

  • Export all your contacts from your accounts, Outlook etc and get them into a spreadsheet – simple but very flexible and an effective starting point however you decide to do your marketing.
  • Make sure that you add everyone you meet through your business to the list to keep it growing. Even if you don’t think someone could use your products/services, contacts can provide great referrals.

2. Update your website

You update your website regularly – don’t you? Your website is your shop window. Whatever your business it is where potential customers will inevitable browse to see what you are about and what you are up to. Your site should reflect your business NOW, not last year or even 6 months ago. Websites should be updated with your latest news, ideas, advice, offers etc. at least every few weeks. If you rely 100% on someone else to update your site (which can make regular updates expensive), take a look at the options for making your site easier to update yourself – this can cost a lot less than you might think and will be a great investment.

3. Get out there

Now you have all this great new content on your website, there’s no need to wait for people to find it. You can get pro-active and let people know it is there. You see, I told you building a contact database would be useful! With interesting things to say and a ready built list of people to market to, getting your message out is straightforward. Whether you choose direct mail or email you should have the key elements – Content and a Target List. You should remember that marketing is a Process, NOT an Event so a single ‘send’ is probably not enough. There is truth in the old adage that’ Repetition Sells’. With the increasing costs of snail-mail, this is where email really comes into it’s own – particularly when your target list grows to more than a few hundred. Running a regular mailing campaign can require significant budgets but with no print or fulfillment costs regular email marketing can be done inexpensively – potentially for nothing if you do it yourself and use one of the free online email services such as MailChimp – but there is a catch! With the ‘easy to delete’ nature of email and the prevalence of Spam emails, it is easy for your message to get lost. Your email messages MUST be:

  • Targeted
  • Relevant
  • Interesting

Tip 4 looks at this.

4. Focus on benefits

If you just try and tell your contacts what you want them to hear, you are likely to find they are not very interested. It is always best to put yourself in there position and think:

What’s In It For Me?

By showing people how they can benefit from what you are saying you are much more likely to catch (and keep) their attention. If you are selling a commodity product (people know what they want and it is all about price and availability) then making special offers, showing you have the best price, can be a good way to go but if your business is based on service or providing products that are not so well understood then it is more important to demonstrate your expertise in your field and your professionalism in delivering your products/services. Great ways to do this – that also engage people interested in what you do include:

  • Technical advice
  • Links to relevant resources
  • Hints and tips
  • Case studies
  • Testimonials

Think about the questions customers ask you or new developments in your field. These can be good sources of inspiration.

5. Keep things simple

A common mistake when people start marketing is to try to say everything in one message. This may be a way of getting as many options into your marketing as possible but it can also be very confusing. There was the time that a salesman, in front of a prospective customer had one chance to make an impact. Marketing is not like this. I repeat: marketing is a Process, NOT an Event. A single message is probably not enough. There is truth in the old adage that’ Repetition Sells’. By keeping one ‘communication’ limited to one (or maybe two) key message, things stay simple – and much easier to understand in a few seconds (probably all you’ve got!). By holding back some of your messages for a future communication, you also have ready-made content for next time! In conclusion…. I’m sure you will already be doing some of these things already – and may be doing all of them – but hopefully I have sparked some ideas to help you go forward – and keep going. If you wish to discuss any of the above in more details, please drop me a line