The pressure is on. With B2B (define) marketing resources — staff, financial, and technical — still in short supply and the final financial quarter of the year looming, the e-mail channel is being asked to contribute more leads and conversions. Yet we must make that happen with existing or fewer resources.
Many marketers succumbed to the pressure to produce more with less. You are among friends here: you can confess to tactics like increasing e-mail frequency, mailing to older or inactive lists, sharing lists among brands or business units, widely appending data, and loosening governance rules. Perhaps this all generated some additional downloads and gave prospects multiple opportunities to engage, but it comes at a price.
Consider the cost of such aggression. It haunts us quickly in list churn, decreased response rates, increased subscriber fatigue, higher unsubscribe requests, and lower inbox placement, caused by complaints to the ISPs (when subscribers click on the “report spam” button in Outlook, Gmail, or other e-mail clients). All of that churn throughout the lifecycle only lowers conversion rates at the end of the funnel.
It can be hard to take a long-term view when our goals are measured in the short term. However, there is still time to get your e-mail marketing primed for success in Q4. It’s not about following the letter of the law or the fact of an open permission grant. It’s about respecting the spirit of the agreement you have with your subscribers to provide valuable data at a reasonable pace.
Don’t find yourself in two months wishing you’d started optimizing e-mail marketing at the beginning of the quarter. Here are five ways to build your e-mail file and increase revenue — even under pressure:
- Use PPC (define) search to drive new e-mail subscribers. Add a search offer for an e-mail education series on something relevant to your buyer’s decision process, like how to calculate ROI (define) or identify key inputs for effective data integration. Give prospects the option to engage in a conversation and nurture their interest rather than offering a one-time download. Great content and a small commitment (signing up for five messages is less of a commitment than a weekly newsletter) also make it worthwhile for the prospect to give you an accurate e-mail address. Repurpose content you already have and serve it in bite-sized pieces. Shorter is more likely to be read, as well.
- Customize the landing page to the source. If you are cross-pollinating internal lists, buying online media, or renting external e-mail files, be sure that the landing page speaks to the level of brand/product awareness. Include a relevant e-mail program offer on each and integrate the e-mail sign up (with clear permission) into the existing form. Don’t just offer it, sell the e-mail subscription as a value added. Always be clear about frequency and content.
- Create ambassadors out of bloggers. Many of your customers and prospects are influencers in their own right. Invite legitimate bloggers to apply for insider alerts and passes to events — your own virtual or regional events, as well as industry shows. Give them truly interesting topics to write about that may or may not feature your products every time. Create landing pages for them that offer free content (most bloggers won’t link to a form) as well as e-mail subscription invitations for their readers.
- Reactivate. It can be very hard to reengage through e-mail with subscribers who have been tuning out your e-mail messages for six months or longer. Start earlier. Track activity every 90 or 180 days for customers (and perhaps more frequently for prospects, depending on your buying cycle) and reach out while the subscriber is still warm and may be receptive to your message. If e-mail doesn’t appeal to them, offer new types of content and new ways to connect (e.g., a LinkedIn group or Facebook fan page).
- Capture everywhere. Don’t miss an opportunity to capture an e-mail address. Make it easy and effortless by limiting the collection form to just the e-mail address at the start. Engage prospects with a special welcome series that encourages them to take an action (e.g., download a white paper or visit particular product pages) or provide more info (e.g., take a survey about current challenges). That activity can be a much better source of lead qualification than self-reported data. Those early in the research stage will spend time on different pages and download different content than those who are ready to build a case for resources.
Move beyond the crutch of higher frequency and seek out e-mail relationships that matter to your subscribers. They will reward you with loyalty and higher response and will buzz about you with their own social connections.
Which of these tactics have you tested? Which require overcoming internal hurdles or integration challenges? Let me know what you think and share any ideas or comments below.