Beware the E-Mail Marketing Blinders

As an email marketing professional, I realized earlier this week the definition of an “email program” may be drastically different for marketers and consumers. Marketers define an email program as composed of one or more email messages, sent to support a specific product, effort, or campaign. This could be a direct sales email, a prospecting email, or a branding email.

Consumers define an email program as any email from an organization that lands in their inboxes. This includes opt-in confirmation email, welcome email, service-related email (confirmations, cancellations), and everything else an organization may send.

These definitions imply that many email marketers underestimate the elements that help define the customer’s perception of a company’s email marketing efforts. It’s as if email marketers wear blinders regarding the presence and effect of transaction- and service-based email. Thinking of an email marketing program as a finite messaging sequence with a single intent promotes an unrealistic, limited view of how all email messages affect the consumer’s state of mind. This single-minded approach can also cause marketers to miss out on some of the most valuable marketing space available in email today.

How can marketers ensure they take advantage of every email touch point the consumer experiences? Below, three steps that can immediately add value to your current marketing program by leveraging service and confirmation email.

  1. Be aware. Factor the effect service and transactional messages have on your current marketing strategies and workflow. Customers receive service and transactional email in addition to the marketing email you send them. There’s no way to plan for these types of email or for customers to opt out. This can be both a blessing and a curse. This message forum provides a captive audience. But you can underestimate the messages’ frequency or ignore their potential effect your customers’ perception of the total email program. Be aware and make the timing work for you.

  2. Imbed content. Use these emails to target hard-to-reach customers. Though CAN-SPAM limits the amount of marketing information you can add to service-based email, it doesn’t prohibit usage of marketing messages entirely. And though most of these service and transactional email messages are text, they still carry an effect from a branding and activity standpoint. A text message reminding someone to update her email address on the preference center or advising her of added benefits if she activates a service can be a very effective element of any program.
  3. Update copy. Understand the readership levels and ensure copy is customer-focused and marketing-approved. Ensure copy in these messages supports the larger brand and speaks with an appropriate marketing tone. A recent statistic says 74 percent of the general population will open and read a service or confirmation email within one hour of receipt. That’s a serious amount of focus on a single message. Couple that with the fact 40 percent of the general population will go out of their way to patronize a company if they like the email program they’re involved with, and the results of these “everything else” email messages are too important to simply dismiss.

Will these steps make a difference? Absolutely! And they’re only the beginning. Once you’re comfortable with the fact email programs span far beyond the one-off marketing messages that support your campaign, you can make service and confirmation email work even harder for your program.

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

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