By Chris Knippa
Emarketing is nothing new. For more than 15 years, companies have been using eblasts to reach companies on a regular basis. In the beginning, marketers used tools like MailChimp and iContact to send newsletters, promotions and more. In fact, some companies still use these tools. In recent years, however, emarketing seems to have made a resurgence. Newer software has entered the market and tools that have been around forever have upped their game to keep up.
This alone challenges the assumption that emarketing is dead. After all this time, with users getting smarter with email filters and unsubscribe buttons, could this still be working? The continuous release of tools to make emarketing easier tells me it hasn’t gone anywhere. And here are a few reasons why: according to Forrester, it’s twice as likely somebody will subscribe to a newsletter than engage with a Facebook account. If somebody’s already subscribed to a newsletter, then that’s a qualified lead. They already want to hear from you. And you’re right there in their inbox when they’re ready to catch up on their mobile phone, where 88 percent of smartphone users check their email. So far, it sounds good to me.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to get into this emarketing stuff, so I turned to an online marketing team for guidance. Luckily for them, I already had a massive spreadsheet of historical contacts for them to work with, as well as customer data from our CRM. I gave them these resources and let them take it from there. The first thing they did was segment out my various audiences. Some of these audiences would get touch points based on where they were on the consumer journey. Others were long-time customers who would start receiving a quarterly newsletter full of useful information on how to maintain their water systems, water filter promotions, referral program information, etc. No matter who you were, if you were in my database, you were going to start hearing from me on a regular basis, unless you asked me to go away.
The marketing team uploaded my old spreadsheets and recent contacts, which established a nice collection of audience lists. The team got to work penning automated marketing sequences for each segment and scheduled them to send out at key times in the customer’s life journey. The two main segments that we’ve been working with are new leads and customers who have purchased from us before. Through our messaging, we were essentially keeping new leads warm and reactivating old leads. We also were able to weed out uninterested message recipients, ensuring that we had a tight, clean list of qualified leads. (There’s a saying in the marketing world that the money is in the list and I had a good one.) From here on, I could craft any message I wanted and send it to very specific, qualified audiences. I could monitor those open rates, unsubscribes and clicks to gather invaluable data from my audience.
The main conversion I’m tracking with my emarketing campaign is contact forms. If we take a look at our most recent eblast, we enjoyed a 30-percent open rate of a 6,000-member list that resulted in eight form completions. That’s something that would otherwise cost $50 a lead and returned $450 in leads that could potentially cost next to nothing—just the cost to craft the email and the modest subscription fee from an email service. (Depending on the size of your mailing list and how fancy you want to get, you may even be able to use a free email service.) Over time, as we gather new subscribers with a pop-up lead capture window, these margins are only going to get better.
How you can try emarketing
Step 1. Decide what you’re going to offer and how you are going to measure a conversion. In the case of the special, we offered a free water filtration system with the purchase of a whole-house system. (If you already had the whole-house system, you could still take advantage of the deal by adding an upgrade to your existing setup.)
Step 2. Get your list together. If you don’t have old spreadsheets like I did, you may need to use a pop-up subscription tool to start building your list.
Step 3. Separate your list into segments and create an email schedule for each segment. Start conservatively and increase your sending frequency as you feel more comfortable. Quarterly emails on cold leads is a safe place to start and you can email fresh leads more frequently depending on their most recent touch-point. For example, if recipients filled out a general interest form, try setting your first touch-point for one week after (assuming they also received an immediate response when they first submitted the form, which is recommended).
Step 4. Write your emails based on the schedule you developed. Have a fresh pair of eyes read your copy to make sure it’s clean, easy-to-understand and persuasive. Schedule these emails in the email tool of your choice. Be sure to send yourself test emails to ensure they look good from your email inbox and on mobile devices.
Step 5. Review the results after your message sends. Give it a few days before you check, then look at open, click, bounce and unsubscribe rates. Make adjustments as needed, then keep pushing forward with new messages!
Pitfalls to avoid
Like any new tool, there’s a little trial and error before you find your groove. Here are a few critical things to remember for those new to emarketing:
• Keep your segments clean and don’t send the wrong messages to the wrong lists.
• Make sure you are checking the From email address of the eblasts. Alternatively, use a No-reply email address.
• If a user unsubscribes, respect their decision and do not contact them anymore. This is typically automatically handled by your email service, but it’s so important it bears repeating.
Emarketing is a low-cost way to get not only new leads, but keep the existing ones warm. By ignoring the impact emarketing could have for your water treatment company, you stand the risk of missing out on affordable and qualified leads.
(1) Elliot, Nate; Luca S. Paderni and Collin Colburn. Social Strategy Relationships That Work. Forrester. 2014. https://www.forrester.com/report/Social+Relationship+Strategies+That+Work/-/E-RES113002
(2) Smith, Aaron. US Smartphone Use in 2015. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/
About the author
Chris Knippa, Owner of Kinetico Water Softeners of San Antonio (http://kineticosa.com/), has been providing quality water treatment products to South Texans since 1970. He is a Texas Tech alumnus who frequently volunteers through non-profits such as Uganda Tree of Life Ministries and Taking it to the Streets.