Today’s email marketing tools are incredibly user-friendly and increasingly affordable, yet there is growing demand for full service email marketing. But why?
By now we all know that email marketing produces the strongest ROI but building compelling emails (or an effective email program for that matter) takes both time and expertise.
So until the folks at MailChimp Labs can figure out how to create autonomous email marketing robot experts (which I’m sure they will do at some point), the tools are only as good as those who wield them.
But who are these companies that decide that full service email marketing is a viable option? And what does full service email marketing really consist of anyway?
Who’s going the full service route?
In my experience, those that decide to seek full service email marketing providers are a very diverse bunch indeed but they all have at least two of following characteristics in common:
- They acknowledge that email marketing, either directly or indirectly, is responsible or could be responsible for a healthy chunk of their revenue.
- They have found that hiring or training in-house talent is cost prohibitive, in relationship to their email-driven revenue.
- They are missing critical talent in their email production process.
As for their general makeup, these companies typically fall into the following classifications:
- Small, one or two person, operations that either have a high-margin product or those with a small-margin product with a large email list.
- Small to mid-size online sellers, be they consumer or b2b focused, that have in-house marketing talent. But that talent is either comprised of generalists or specialists with little to no email marketing expertise.
- Large organizations, with heavy campaign output, who are missing production specialists or they are simply overwhelmed.
Who are the full service misfits?
For all the organizational types that may be a good fit for full service email marketing, there are many more that find little value in outsourcing their email production, such as:
- Large to mid-sized organizations that have not seen historical or upside potential in email; those that typically send static newsletters and use email primarily as a cost effective ‘stay top of mind’ communication channel.
- Email-driven organizations; those that are dependent on email to drive the bulk of their revenue, such as Living Social.
- Traditional Publishers. With few exceptions, large or small, their email assets are so closely tied to their other products that it doesn’t make sense to outsource.
- Certain B2B organizations, which have a manned sales force and refined sales process. They rely heavily on marketing automation and therefore have no need for ongoing services.
Full service email marketing, usually isn’t.
The most important thing to remember is that the term “full service” is often misused. What we’re usually talking about is managed email marketing.
The difference is that managed email marketing services are tailored to the needs of the marketer. The managed services vendor plugs in only those services that the marketer needs, such as a hybrid of strategic and production services or simply email coding and delivery.
It could be that the marketer truly needs full service email marketing, which typically includes strategy, execution, reporting, everything; all of the duties typically provided by and in-house team or team member. But more often than not, the marketer has some in-house talent, such as marketing managers or creatives, which they can leverage.
So why are companies really choosing managed email marketing?
As for those that decide to utilize managed (or full service) email marketing services, aside from the relief in their production burden and the efficiencies it might create, they are finding considerable value and comfort in knowing that their vendor is responsible for staying abreast of the tactics and strategies that truly drive revenue, their vendor has to. As a provider of managed email marketing services, we at Indiemark know that we have to perform as if our jobs depend on it, because it does.
Are your transactional emails one of the workhorses of your email marketing program? Or just sitting in stalls not helping at all?
“Whoa!” you be thinking right now. “Transactional? Marketing? Aren’t those two different kinds of emails with two very different jobs?”
Your transactional emails aren’t marketing. They’re business, you’re right. But they can do some heavy lifting on behalf of your marketing. They can subtly promote product and build brand without distracting from their primary purpose.
People are very receptive to transactional emails because they are sent in response to an action on the part of the customer or subscriber. It’s therefore an email they anticipate and open. By transactional emails we mean communications like:
- Welcome emails
- Order confirmations
- Shipping confirmations
- Billing notices
- Regular statements
These types of emails are more likely to be opened by the recipient than your regular promotional email marketing messages because they are anticipated and welcomed. That makes them ideal partners to their marketing cohorts.
Transactional emails are an opportunity. The people getting transactional emails from you are already communicating with you and even buying from you, so the trust is there. And they are already opening those transactional emails, so the opportunity is there.
Use your transactional emails for subtle sales by cross-selling and up selling similar products or relevant products or services. Here are some possibilities:
- Promote products or services that complement what the customer just bought.
- Drive traffic back to your website for more shopping.
- Encourage recipients to sign up for email communications.
Ask yourself: Is there targeted selling information that could be included in your transactional emails that’s relevant and useful without distracting from the business nature of the message?
And there’s more. When I say workhorse, I mean workhorse. Selling isn’t the only extra task these emails can tackle. They can be brand builders too. By ensuring the look, feel and voice of the transactional email fits with all your other messaging everywhere else, every message sent is one more brick in the brand you’re building in the customer’s mind.
Review your transactional emails: Do they share the same look and feel as your branded emails? Is the email copywriting written in a voice that matches your brand? Or are they just dry and straightforward business communications? Your transactional emails need not be splashy HTML to reinforce your brand. You can be plenty creative with text only emails. Just make sure the messaging is spot on inline with your brand.
Don’t let your transactional emails munch hay all day when they could be making hay instead. Put them to work promoting product and building brand!
1) FACE FORWARD
Mention Facebook in the subject line (e.g. “Favorites of Facebook Fans”).
2) KEEP IT SUPER SHORT
Use bullets and slash your copy like a serial killer.
Spend 50% of your time on the subject and preview text, other 50% on everything else (including design).
4) MIRROR IMAGE
A landing page that features the same primary image of the email that links to it will generate a higher response rate than one that does not use the image.
5) STUTTER STEP
Repeat yourself on landing pages. It’s redundant, but it gives the recipient the much needed confirmation that they are at the right place.
6) GO ALL-IN
Create “All in” emails, in which every link except the opt-out goes to the same landing page, rather than multiple calls to action.
7) ALL ROADS LEAD TO REV
Use multiple links and links styles, to the same destination/offer.
Indiemark is an email marketing agency, and my third business venture. My first two endeavors started slowly, grew organically, and luckily both of which ended with a Big Bang. Now that the economy has turned the corner, Indiemark seems to be on the same course.
Until now, I’ve started (but never finished) dozens of classic business plans. You know…the 25 page text-rich variety. I suppose it’s because I’m too right-brained or too impatient or both. So I usually just wing it with a “business outline”, but secretly wish I had taken the time to map out my long and short term strategies in greater detail.
So this time I’ve drafted a visual business plan.
Below you’ll find the paired-down version. It also comes with a companion Tactical Guide, which is not found here. It’s too juicy.
Please…tell me what you think!
It’s hard to argue with the ROI email marketing can bring to marketers, yet many businesses aren’t getting nearly enough out of their programs. It’s not because they don’t see the value, it’s because achieving a strong ROI with email is harder than it looks.
This leaves smart marketers with a decision to make. Hire outside email marketing experts (shameless plug), in-house talent, or a combination thereof? The answer of course depends on their unique needs.
If you’re one of those marketers (who knows they could be doing so much with your email marketing), this guide will help you to assess your current efforts, and most importantly, plot a course for Resultsburg.
Step 1: Define the Scope
A successful email marketing program requires a lot of planning and thoughtful consideration, including:
- Best Practices and Frequency Strategy
- Editorial & Promotional Content Planning
- List Growth & Win-back Strategy
- Up Sale, Cross Sale, and Referral Strategy
- List Segmentation (via customer profiles and behavior)
- Flexible Design (on-brand, actionable, and in the inbox)
- Trigger-based Emails (using customer behaviors or events)
- Customer Engagement Measurement (One of the biggest factors in deliverability)
- Social Integration (It’s a two-way street)
- Testing & Optimization (Need I say more)
- Email Service Provider (ESP) or Mailing Solution Evaluations
Does the list above encompasses more than you’re doing? You may be under-utilizing this lucrative channel and missing out of profits. Perhaps it’s time for a fresh marketing partner or maybe you need to reallocate budgets or provide your in-house team with more training? Now move on to steps 2 and 3, but be honest with yourself and go with your gut.
Step 2: Look in Your Own Backyard
If you prefer to utilize in-house talent, consider this:
- You (meaning you or your team) know your business; are you also well-versed in email marketing?
- If yes, do you have time and energy to be effective?
- Is your program founded on data and subscriber behavior?
- How frequently do you test and then optimize your efforts?
- Does your email marketing drive sales AND reduce marketing costs?
- What’s your attrition rate?
- Could your in-house team use some guidance, recommendations or training?
- Is your email ROI above $40 for every $1 spent?
Step 3: Working With Experts
If you already have a marketing agency or other outside help, ask yourself:
- Do they understand our target market and business processes?
- Do they specialize in email?
- Do they generate an ROI that’s in-line with the findings above?
- Do they think about your email marketing without being prodded?
- Have they monetized all the options?
- Is their work for fresh and reflective of best practices?
If you’ve determined that you need help, check out How to Hire Email Marketing Experts. It will help you evaluate qualified talent that fits your most needs, including a tight budget.
- Scott Hardigree | Indiemark
I recently took my 9 year old daughter to Justice, a children’s apparel retailer. From the onset the manager bombarded me, at 5 minute intervals, with product recommendations and promotions. This continued for 30 minutes until I was forced to school her on customer insight and preferences.
A bad email program is much like an ineffective sales person. Instead of having to read the disinterest on the faces of your customers, feel the negative impact on sales, or in my case, hear the harshness of their words; email marketing can tell you almost everything you need to know about your customers and help you to sell more.
Going Beyond “Hi FNAME”
The insight required to make your email program more profitable is already at your finger tips and it’s inexpensive. It comes to you in the form of data. I don’t mean open and click data, although that will tell you a lot, I’m talking about data that will allow you to personalize the experience for each of your customers.
Sure, personalized greetings are often well-received but as I mentioned in a recent Chief Marketer article, this year’s standout Valentine’s Day campaigns were those that used deeper data, such as purchase history and customer profiles, to make their offers more personal and therefore more relevant. In the article, I was speaking largely about retailers but service companies too have a slew of easily accessible data to track (or even predict) the purchase intent of their customers as well as identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
What Do You Have to Work With?
The sources of actionable data are seemingly endless, but here are few categories and specific examples:
Profile: Imagine you run a travel agency and I’m your 65 y/o prospect, do you think I’d respond better to an offer that reflected the most popular senior destinations? Now imagine that the images in the offer were those of the silver-haired persuasion. Or perhaps I’m on west coast time and your webinar is schedule for 1pm eastern, would I be more likely to reserve my seat if the email read 11am pacific?
Purchase History: If I bought gifts in or around today’s date, two years in a row, might I want to buy another again this year? What if the new gift recommendations were in line with my previous purchases of those of other gift buyers? Conversely, what if I’ve already purchased your primary product, do you think that I want to hear about how much money I could have saved, if only I’d waited? Instead, wouldn’t I rather know about your secondary offerings?
Activity: Maybe I’ve downloaded three sequential white papers in 30 days, but I’ve yet to make a purchase, would it be a good idea to invite me into a discussion about my specific needs? Or maybe I haven’t responded to your offers in some time, am I perfect for a reactivation offer or satisfaction survey?
Preferences: Imagine that you have 10 different products but I’m a reseller that’s only interested on products 1-5. Shouldn’t I be put into a segment with other resellers? What if I’m a direct user but I only want to receive educational information, as opposed to promotional, I’m more likely to remain an enthusiast and share your information if I only get what I really want?
It’s Easy and Inexpensive To Execute
I’m always surprised when SMB marketers say that using data at this level is only for the big boys. That may have been true in the years past, but today any ESP that’s worth their salt integrates easily with your CRM or E-commerce solutions and web analytics. All you have to do is integrate it and most importantly test it.
- Scott Hardigree | Indiemark
PRESS RELEASE: Palm Beach Condo Company, South Florida’s leading condominium real estate brokerage firm, has announced the selection of Indiemark as its marketing agency of record. Indiemark will be responsible for all facets of Palm Beach Condo Company’s consumer-facing email marketing, online marketing and social media marketing efforts.
Headquartered in Orlando FL, Indiemark specializes in interactive communications for global and domestic companies and organizations. Indiemark will work with Palm Beach Condo Company to showcase and communicate their many properties – including the largest single selection of condos available for sale in South Florida – which has propelled the company to become the leaders in this and other growing markets.
“Selecting Indiemark as our agency of record is a natural extension of the relationship that we have built with them over the years,” said Brian Saver CEO at Palm Beach Condo Company. “Scott Hardigree and his team have immersed themselves in our company and in our business. We have developed a strong partnership, and we believe this partnership will pay dividends for us, our partners and for the many clients who trust us.”
“Palm Beach Condo Company has a wealth of expertise to share with prospective condo owners, which is particularly important given the complexity of the real estate ownership and investment marketplace,” said Scott Hardigree, CEO at Indiemark. “They help countless individuals, families, and investors cut through that clutter, every day. We’re proud to serve as their agency.”