A New Outlook on E-Mail Marketing

 

I remember the tedium of sending out my first e-newsletter. Not realizing how important (and inexpensive) it would be to have an e-newsletter provider broadcast it for me, I’d send it out in batches from Outlook as blind carbon copies (BCCs) to groups of people.

Needless to say, I eventually gave that e-newsletter up, despite its popularity with my readers and the business I derived from it. The homegrown approach was too unwieldy to be sustained. It felt ridiculous after a while. (I eventually launched another e-newsletter via an email service provider.)

So I was interested in a case study about how the New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center (NHITRC) uses PoliteMail to send email campaigns right from Outlook.

Turns out that prior to using PoliteMail, Anka Jacobs, executive training manager for Southern New Hampshire University at the NHIRTC, was sending email to 2,000 clients in the same prehistoric way I’d been doing it.

The NHIRTC office works with New Hampshire companies that import and export products, so it often has news about important topics, such as increases in export duties, that has to be delivered.

Without a budget for monthly email services or the time to learn a new email program, Jacob’s division was asked to use the email application they already had in place: Microsoft Outlook.

“We had to break our list into chunks of 250, and basically BCC groups of people,” said Jacobs. “It took time to cut and paste from the Excel file.” A lot of those email messages bounced, filling her inbox with undeliverable notices. “Here was this great list of people who want and need information from us, yet we couldn’t effectively get to them.”

Outlook Changes Overnight

Jacobs began using an early release version of PoliteMail in January 2006. Her whole email marketing approach changed overnight.

“When I found PoliteMail, I could finally make Outlook do things I wished it would do all along. The coolest thing is to be able to personalize every message with the person’s name.”

Their IT administrator was skeptical at first. But PoliteMail efficiently stores only one copy of the message in the user’s sent items folder, no matter what the list size. And the email goes out through the state’s own email server. “Our IT guy liked the fact that he didn’t need to do anything with the mail server and that the data was securely stored on PoliteMail’s database server and fed into Outlook,” explained Jacobs.

Productivity Up, Costs Down

The time Jacobs and her team had to spend on letting their membership know about relevant news declined radically. “Mailings that used to take me hours now take 10 minutes and actually arrive at their intended destination,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs now focuses on email analytics in some of her newfound time. “Finally, I can see what’s happening to all the email we send since the numbers come right into Outlook,” she told me.

The ability to see a client’s email activity history provides a way to improve the client relationship. “When a client calls or replies to a message, with one click I can see all the mailings they received, what they opened or didn’t, what attachments they’ve read, if they visited the links or forwarded the message,” she said. “This lets me know what to talk about, and what they might know or what they might be calling about. And that makes for better service.”

Better Communication Equals More Revenues

“Our seminar attendance has gone up by nearly 30 percent,” she said. “We’ve also seen an increase in press coverage, probably because journalists actually receive our emails.

“When I send out a critical announcement, PoliteMail allows me to grab the unopened segment of the list and resend it. I can also send timely follow-up to just the people who expressed interest in a specific seminar topic.

“PoliteMail has basically changed the entire way we communicate with our clients,” said Jacobs. “It provides a way to have a much bigger outreach and impact from my desktop with little cost. The fact that I can do all of this from Outlook — a program I’ve been using for years — just made the whole process that much easier.

Our email now looks more professional and gets delivered. Our open rate tops 61 percent.”

 

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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