I received a call from a company who had taken the plunge to start an in-house email newsletter. They had pulled together a modest list of around 50 of their best customers and drafted, then redrafted, then fine tuned the email newsletter. Finally after running a couple of test sends, they pressed the button….and waited to see what would happen…. They then couldn’t understand why over half of their carefully honed emails hadn’t even been opened, never mind any links clicked or enquiries received! I decided that maybe a post on the subject might prove useful……
The difference between warm and cold lists
At BSA Marketing we emphasise the importance of making the most of people you know. It’s well established that it is easier to get business from people who know you than from cold target contacts, and if you don’t have a good process for keeping in touch with your prospects and past customers, what happens to all those new clients you are trying to build……? We find the response you might expect from emailing to ‘warm’ lists is roughly double that from colder lists though this is somewhat a simplification. Typical open rates for ‘warm’ lists can be around 20-40% and there is no question that regular emailing coupled with strong, relevant content is an ideal combination. In our experience, well targeted retail emails to existing and past customers with strong content and offers tend to produce the highest open rates. For a ‘cold’ list, 10% can be considered a respectable open rate while some of the poorly targeted cold lists that can be bought on line can yield open rates of less that 5%. The figures above are for ‘unique’ opens, i.e. we discount cases where one person opens the email several times. And remember: just because someone opens your email, doesn’t mean they appreciate it. A poorly targeted message that the reader finds irrelevant, coupled with their ability to comment on Twitter, LinkedIn etc. can be really negative to your business.
Don’t expect too much
Getting your email read is a good start but it would be wrong to suddenly expect your sales line to be ringing non-stop. Email marketing is about building relationships. The more people know about you and what you offer, the more likely they will be to come to you when they find a need – when the time is right for them. A beauty of e-newsletters is that you can keep in touch with your target contacts cost effectively – so you can sustain your contact. It is important that you don’t take a look at initial results and immediately dismiss a campaign if you don’t see lots of enquiries straight away. Take a look at the graph above. This is a snapshot from a current campaign that started in August 2011. Over 2 months, the open rate has stayed pretty consistent at 20-25% while the unsubscribe rate is dropping off down towards 1% – but look at the click rate. Over 2 months, the click rate (that is the number of people engaging with the email) has almost doubled from 10% to nearly 20%.
Deal with the negatives positively – and keep them in perspective.
There is often a concentration on the negatives of email marketing, the bounces and unsubscribes, but it is important to keep them in perspective – and to realise that they have a positive aspect. The number of bounces tends to be more of an issue with ‘cold’ lists as there isn’t much you can do about them other than go back to the source of the list if they gave any sort of deliverability guarantee. With your own, ‘warm’ list it may simply be a question of revisiting your email list and updating email addresses from your master data (Accounts system, Outlook etc) or even calling your contacts and checking details directly! Secondly, unsubscribes. It is a fact that people unsubscribe from email lists! So long as it is only a handful (say less than 2-3 % – though higher is not a problem if it is the first or second time you have emailed people) then don’t worry about it. For every 100 emails you send, 97 or 98 people are NOT unsubscribing! If you do see a higher unsubscribe rate then you should probably review your content. Whatever people say about Spam, EVERYONE makes on-the-fly value judgements on the emails they receive. If they like and value the content, they do not consider it as Spam – no matter who or where it has come from!
It’s not just about enquiries
Good business comes from good relationships and a key feature of e-newsletters is the opportunity to build rapport with your market through regular contact where you can make sure people remember you and effectively promote your business proposition and set out the real benefits you deliver to your clients. The clear increase in click rates shown above demonstrates this process in action. By receiving regular, relevant contact, customers and prospects see what you have to offer and as you reinforce the benefits to them, their confidence in you grows. As this happens they are happy to engage with you further. This is first reflected in the growth in clicks which can then lead on to enquiries and ultimately more business for you.
It’s a process
So much marketing is approached as a one-off project, be it a mailshot, telemarketing campaign or the placing of an advert etc. etc. Marketing should be a consistent and sustained function of your business that carries on. Sure, it is important that your marketing is reviewed and refined regularly but making sure that you do keep in touch with people rally can pay dividends. Happy Marketing!