Strengthen Your Brand Through Email

Branding. It isn’t a concept I’m intimately familiar with, certainly not as much as some of my fellow writers here at ClickZ. My background is in journalism, and, when I began writing case studies, I thought, “Great — I know how to cover this. I interview a company, look at a campaign’s objective, describe how the campaign was carried out, and then write up the results. Simple.”

But, of course, I couldn’t forever avoid directly talking about branding. Sure, it’s been an underlying issue in many of the campaigns I’ve discussed, but as today’s case study will show, when brand takes center stage, it can also improve your email marketing efforts.

Specifically, I’m talking about brand consistency. The theory is that the more consistently you can communicate your image, the better. One piece of this revolves around your logo. Get your image out there — on your Web site, on business cards, in magazine ads — and your message will come through more clearly.

And, of course, this goes for your email correspondence, too.

An Example

F-O-R-T-U-N-E Personnel Consultants of Raleigh, an executive placement firm, tried it out with its emails. The company used a product called LetterMark, an email system from FullSeven Technologies, to increase brand identity in its email messages. In the process, it raised traffic to its Web site 55 percent in the first month, and the volume has been fairly steady since then.

Here’s how it works. F-O-R-T-U-N-E, using a template developed by FullSeven, created a letterhead for its email correspondence. The letterhead leads with the slogan “Where Top Companies Find Top Candidates”. Just beneath that, on the left, sits the F-O-R-T-U-N-E logo. On the right are four clickable buttons: Home, About Us, Consulting Services, and Newsletter & Articles. (To see the letterhead for yourself, head to FullSeven’s gallery and click on F-O-R-T-U-N-E’s logo.)

F-O-R-T-U-N-E staffers compose email messages to the customer base, just as they normally would, and the moment they hit the send button, the LetterMark information pops up so they can see how it will look. The relatively small code (it’s about 1K in size) is then served to the recipient. (And if the recipient is not using an HTML-compliant mail client, he or she will see text and links to the URLs.)

Plus, the message can also include a business card, with clickable contact information that can be added into a range of email address books.

During the first month of use (March of this year), the results were the following:

  • Letterhead clicks to Web site: 374
  • Business card clicks to Web site: 166
  • Contact info downloads: 41
  • Total Web site traffic: up 55 percent

Rick Deckelbaum, president and chief executive officer, said the increase in site traffic has been fairly steady. And he adds that the cost is well worth it.

“The recruiters and researchers in our office send hundreds of emails each day. By leveraging the LetterMark system, we spend only pennies per branding opportunity,” Deckelbaum said.

OK, so branding your email messages isn’t a radical idea. But sometimes it’s the simple changes that have the most impact.

Etcetera

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Australian subsidiary Datawatch’s efforts to generate interest in its new suite of software tools. The company used Cuban cigars to sell software, and the campaign had telemarketing, email, and direct mail components. I received some interesting mail, some of which I’ve quoted, followed by responses from Michael Dayes of Cherry Design, the marketing company that helped run the campaign.

Wrote one reader:

A few mailers have asked me recently what type of time spread between a postal mailing and email follow-up yields the best results. I was intrigued by your account in today’s article because the timeline seemed so tight. If the cigars were sent on Feb. 5 (and a letter on Feb. 6) and the email was sent on Feb. 9, doesn’t that assume that the mailing will arrive in just 3 days (I am assuming it would have to arrive by Feb. 8 for a Feb. 9 email to make sense)? Is the Australian Post Office that [much” more effective than the U.S. [Post Office”? That timeline seems to put a lot of pressure on the PO to deliver on time or the follow-up email’s effect is lost or… diminished. I would guess that one should wait 5-7 business days for a follow-up email. I am curious what your thoughts are.

Michael’s response, via email:

We have not conducted any split tests with timing of mailings, but I’m a big believer in “blasting” to achieve cut-through as opposed to “trickling.” You don’t make a big impression by trickling your way into the recipients mind, you do it by blasting your way there — and this can mean tighter frequency, as well as unusual sequencing. I once (yes, only “once”) received a mail pack that arrived the same day as the email. The email resulted in me looking harder at the snail mail. And the snail mail resulted in me looking harder at the email. The company that was trying to get my attention blasted their way into my mind — into my day. Now, naturally, this is only going to be effective if the information is relevant, personal, and interesting, but my experience here played a role in determining timings for this campaign.

Another reader wrote:

To initiate any campaign in this day and age with a cigar (Cuban or not), which would exclude 80% or more of the population, is not only wasteful but connotes all kinds of negativity about the company in question.

Michael’s response:

All I can say is that the objectives of the campaign were met. The cigar was used as a story-telling tool, as you know, Heidi — not because we wanted people to smoke them or we thought people would like them as a standalone gift. They were used to educate at the first step of the campaign.

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