A very important concept that applies to the face-to-face sales arena can, quite often, apply to the email arena as well. I'm talking about the concept of building momentum.
Just about any good salesperson worth his or her salt will tell you that the speed and completion of the sale depends, at least in part, on how much momentum is generated during the course of the selling process.
Yes, momentum has a lot to do with building a sense of urgency in the prospective customer; yet it goes beyond that. The term really represents a set of stages and processes -- both tangible and borderline abstract -- that can be essential to closing the deal.
Case in point (and this is a relatively long analogous offline example, so bear with me): Two prospective homebuyers, a married couple, walk into a new-homes sales center. In their minds, they are just at the "looking" stage, so they're a bit cool when greeted by the sales rep. In other words, their guards are up. Let's take a look at the stages they go through as they "buy" the house, bit by bit, in their own minds. The movement of thought from a "just looking" to a "let's buy" stage is brought about by a focus on building that momentum.
First, the salesperson addresses the "don't bother me/just looking" demeanor by welcoming the couple in a friendly, nonthreatening manner and then telling them to feel free to walk through the model homes that are next-door. BUT, she adds, there are a few outstanding features that she'd like to point out on their tour, if that's OK with them. No hard sell, she promises, just a few highlights to add value to their visit. Mr. and Mrs. Prospect agree. (Stage 1.)
So through the model homes they go. The sales rep points out the many features -- and the corresponding benefits, of course -- of the homes. She presents those benefits in such a way that the prospective buyers "move into" the homes in their minds -- statements such as "This alcove at the top of the stairs would make a lovely quiet reading area," and "With the size of this dining room, you can have a festive Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family at your house!" At this stage, the couple begins to decide which of the model homes best meets their needs. (Stage 2.)
The sales rep takes it a step further and offers to show Mr. and Mrs. Prospect the actual raw home sites that are available, so they can visualize things such as landscaping, sun direction, and which windows get southern exposure. When they pick out a favorite lot, it further bonds them with the home and creates an even stronger "we are living in this home" mindset. PLUS it adds another layer of desire (not to mention pure momentum) to boot. (Stage 3.)
Back at the sales office, the rep reviews the various financing options with the prospects. Further visualization takes place in their minds as they realize they do have the ability to make those payments each month. The sales rep asks -- point-blank -- when they'd like to sign. When Mr. and Mrs. Prospect hem and haw, the sales rep reminds them that another couple interested in that home site is coming in later today and that they may very well put a deposit down on it. The home will then most likely be lost to them. Fear of loss seals the deal. (Stages 4 and 5.)
So what does all of this have to do with email marketing? Plenty, actually. A sales arena is a sales arena, and although a big difference obviously exists between the physical and the virtual realms, the concept of stronger sales and conversions as a direct result of a focus on generating momentum is one of the strongest concepts out there in my opinion. But how do you apply it to email?
I've got my own ideas, of course, but since ClickZ has one of the savviest, most experienced industry audiences around (and since we're outta time!), I thought I'd toss that question back to you. What are the actual stages in the hypothetical home-buying scenario above? And what does each stage represent in terms of how it can be applied to an email marketing strategy? And how can we -- savvy email marketers that we are -- utilize these strategies to enhance our ongoing efforts in this medium?
Email your thoughts to me. And next week, in Part 2, we'll take a look at what virtual world tactics to create momentum can be used to enhance an email campaign. So stay tuned.
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Kim MacPherson is President and Founder of Inbox Interactive, a full-service email marketing agency specializing in promotional copywriting, HTML design, planning, and deployment/tracking solutions. Kim is also the author of "Permission-Based E-mail Marketing That Works!"
March 19, 2014