A goal of every business is to obtain new prospects and turn them into clients. E-mail marketing has created an easy and inexpensive outlet to do this.
The first step is obtaining new prospects from opt-in sources or third-party list rentals. Many marketers report below average results through SEM (define) or co-registration sites in growing their lists; subscribers from these sources are often transient and convert at low rates.
Better results have been reported using video as a means of attracting new subscribers and prospects. Many publishers have found success publishing unique content on their site, targeting those who view many pages. These clients are usually highly engaged, ripe for selling new products, or ready to subscribe to new lists.
Once you gain new prospects, how do you convert them to clients and subscribers through e-mail marketing? Everything starts with a well-crafted "welcome letter." Smart use of a dynamic welcome letter can help you segment and target your list by interest.
For example, a retailer can provide links to specific product segments and segment their list based on clickstream data. This is also the time to brand your product in the prospect's mind. The welcome letter will have the highest open rate of any communications you send out and the opportunity shouldn't be wasted, but usually is by most marketers.
Prospects receive hundreds of e-mails. Stand out from the crowd by using the information you gather through your sign-up process and welcome letter to develop dynamic content and targeted messaging. Instead of a sales pitch, supply your prospects with knowledge.
If your market is B2B (define), explain how you can help them grow their business. Don't supply generic use cases for your product; show your prospects use cases they could benefit from. Prove you will provide a high ROI (define).
In addition to dynamic content, remember the power of targeted, personalized messaging. A more conversational e-mail will engage a reader. You can easily test this by doing A/B testing of some one-to-one prospecting e-mails.
Create two e-mails, one very informal and conversational, the other that reads more like a product pitch. Send both out to potential clients and see which one performs best. If your results are like mine, you'll find that people are much more likely to respond to the informal personalized message than the more marketing-oriented piece.
How does one accomplish this? Personalization is key. Addressing someone by name shows you put effort toward reaching out to that prospect.
E-mail service providers make personalization easy to accomplish through a simple data merge. Review the list where your e-mail will be deployed. Some accounts in your list may not have a first or last name, meaning nothing will show up in the greeting when you personalize your e-mail. Be sure to fill in missing fields with a general greeting.
When targeting your e-mail, develop content that is relative to each prospect. For example, if your service or product could be used differently for different market sectors, then create an e-mail for each market sector outlining the specific benefits of your service or product for each sector.
Once you turn your prospects into clients or subscribers, work at keeping them engaged with your company. Have regular e-mail correspondences with your clients. Keep them informed of new features with your service or product and how they can apply them to their business needs and goals.
E-mail makes it easy to stay in contact with clients and provide them with relative, current information.
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Bill McCloskey is the founder and chief evangelist for Email Data Source, a competitive intelligence resource for e-mail marketers. He was named one of online advertising's 50 most influential people by "Media" magazine and one of the 100 people to know by "BtoB Magazine." He's been a recognized pioneer in interactive advertising for over 10 years.