By Deb Daufeldt
If you're already doing some form of online e-publishing - that's great! If you're hesitating (or worse yet, procrastinating), perhaps I'll succeed in pushing you over the edge. So, you're no doubt asking yourself - why email? What will it do for my business?
What's the ePublishing Strategy?
Email is a relatively inexpensive but highly effective means of communication. As a medium that is relatively young, many people often don't quite know how to take full advantage of all of the available email marketing options, let alone how to get started.
Goals for an eMail Marketing Program
In general, your goals for an email marketing program can be boiled down to one or more of the following:
- Maintain Top-of-Mind Positioning - Landing in the Inbox on a regular basis enables you to stay top-of-mind, whether your emails are opened every time or not. The timing to acquire your products or services may not be now, but could be soon. Don't underestimate the value of building your brand and above all, be patient if the phone doesn't ring off the hook with your first email broadcast.
- Keep your customers, investors, employees and other interested parties involved with your brand - Email keeps your stakeholders connected with you and up-to-date on what you are doing. If you have a large database, you couldn't possibly reach out and touch every one of your customers regularly via other mediums such as the telephone.
- Position yourself (or your company) as a leader - Email allows you to educate your market about your work, little by little, positioning you as an expert. Over time, your audience gains confidence in your abilities and offerings.
- Drive traffic to your locations, phone lines, or company website - An email campaign is a great way to drive eyeballs to targeted pages on your website and a whole lot cheaper than paid placements on the search engines (though certainly not a substitute for them).
- Turn suspects into prospects and prospects into loyal customers - Though email is better known as a customer retention tool than an acquisition tool, it can be a very effective way to begin and then develop a relationship with a suspect that has shown even some interest in your offerings. Over time, the suspect develops a trust in you and a better understanding of your products or services and in time slides into the category of "customer."
- Introduce a new product or service - What better way to let your customers and prospects know you've got some new great stuff to share with them. And as a subscriber, they will be the FIRST to know about it. I like to call this the "Exclusivity Factor." It makes people want to be on your email list.
- Build a Viral Marketing movement - One of the most popular uses for email is to let your fans know about sales, discounts, and specials... especially for retailers. Leverage email to motivate your current fan-base to act as advocates for your brand and "Tell-A-Friend" to drive new traffic to your online and/or offline store for increased revenue and audience building.
- Cross-sell and up-sell and re-sell existing customers - One of the best ways to keep a customer is to make it harder for them to leave you. Email is a dream of a medium to deepen the relationships you have with your customers. They are less likely to "churn" (or leave you for another provider) if they receive multiple products or services from you.
- Send Press Releases and stay on the Media Radar - Most editors and reporters today have little time to sift through the piles of press releases that cross their desks each day but they do need leads for stories to fill their publications and broadcast reports. In recent panel discussions with various members of the press, spanning both broadcast and print media, one universal request was clear - "Send it to us via email - no attachments, keep it succinct - but use email." Adding members of the Press to your email list keeps them abreast of your news just like the rest of your list.
Although email is relatively inexpensive as a tool, it does require a commitment of resources. If all you send out is advertising messages it may prove difficult to keep people interested enough to stay on your list. You need to commit to content that they want to receive, which I'll be discussing in future articles. It is the regular dialog, back and forth, that builds valuable relationships between you and the people who make up your list. If you do your e-mail marketing the right way, your recipients will actually look forward to receiving your messages.