I recently discussed how many leading websites make it difficult to find and/or sign up for their e-mail offerings. I want to continue the theme of missed opportunities and now bring attention to the fact that many companies fail to leverage some of their best opportunities to capture data.
Any company that communicates with customers and prospects outside of their website should be utilizing that customer touch point to potentially acquire e-mail subscribers and other opt-in opportunities.
So, where do you start if increasing your e-mail database and decreasing the costs of other marketing channels are priorities?
Today, let's consider four areas: point of sale, call center, in-store experience, and sales calls/marketing collateral. In part two, we'll consider five others.
Point of sale: You may ask, "don't you want their e-mail before the sale, not after?" If you want to build loyalty, retention, and ongoing relationships and sales with your current customer base, then you absolutely want their e-mail address. Of course, you want them to opt in to future e-mails so you can send them more information.
Capturing e-mail in a way that doesn't interfere with the transaction and is recorded in an accurate and timely fashion can be a challenge. Methods vary from hand written notepads (Tuesday Morning does this) to tear-off coupon-oriented slips (Office Depot and CVS employ these tactics) to employees entering your e-mail address into the POS system (like J. Crew does).
Call center: The backbone of many CRM (define) programs is usually e-mail marketing or call centers, yet they're rarely integrated from a data collection viewpoint. We all know those incoming customer service calls are expensive. Most companies using call centers are missing out on an e-mail acquisition opportunity. Word to the wise - train your agents on why, what, how often, and list hygiene roadblocks prior to using them to assist with the opt-in process.
In-store experience: Do you place a fishbowl in your restaurant (where it's questionable on whether an opt-in occurs when you drop a business card in a bowl touting a free meal) or do you provide a clear and direct opt-in method for them to be added to your list? We process thousands of in-store opt-in cards each month for our clients and the reason they're effective is they're offered up during the dining experience as a communication option and incentive, provide user friendly fields and spacing, as well as a clear value proposition on why they should opt in. Finally, they're added in a quick time period and receive a welcome e-mail. All in all, it's a positive user experience. Therefore, ensure your users have a strong first impression to your e-mail program and don't have to wait for months before getting that coupon or first e-mail promotion.
Be sure to think of every place to potentially take that relationship leap with your customers. Opt-in promotional exposure can be tied to receipts (list a website URL or text to enter short code), displays in retail stores, table tents, menus in restaurants, and even stores that have kiosks or computer terminals.
Sales calls/marketing collateral: So you B2B folks don't think I'm ignoring you, you certainly can leverage face-to-face experiences by driving opt-ins so you can strengthen that long-term relationship. Whether the goal is gaining an opt-in to the corporate newsletter or your own sales and marketing updated list, why not go for the opt-in before going in for the close? You need to date before you marry, and e-mail is one of the best relationship builders in the marketing universe.
Your collateral should support these parallel efforts and make it easy for prospects to learn more about your company through valuable e-mails. Caveat emptor - your e-mail program can also reveal, for better or worse, company values, strengths, and weaknesses (meaning, do you bombard your subscribers with irrelevant offers or include typos, broken links, and other errors, or do you provide relevant and helpful information in a professional manner?).
In part two, I'll examine five additional offline touch points that can be used to acquire e-mail subscribers.
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Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.
Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.
Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.
He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.
Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.
Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.