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March 3, 2013

Marketing Maven: Closing the sale through email

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Written by: Robin Itzler
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The featured photo for this article shows me reading a marketing email message for a product that caught my attention only to find that the company did everything except include a call to action to close the sale.

Email marketing is extremely important and if you’re not including it as part of your overall marketing strategy, you’re like a rotary phone in a SmartPhone world.

According to ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey of almost 1,500 U.S. online consumers (age 15 and older), 77 percent said email is their preference for receiving permission-based marketing messages. When the company conducted the same survey in 2008, email was cited 72 percent of the time, which means email messaging has only gained in importance.

Direct mail was number two at nine percent followed by text messaging with five percent.

Interestingly, Facebook and Twitter were down the line with four percent and one percent, respectively. Remember, the survey was about how consumers wanted to be marketed to, not how they wanted to find out that their best friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s daughter is graduating elementary school.

The important take away from this survey is that email marketing messages result in more consumer purchasing than all the other channels. While direct mail also encourages a purchase, 66 percent of the respondents said they made a purchase based on receiving a promotional email message.

Email messages that result in action

Not every email marketing campaign’s goal is aimed at having the recipient make a purchase. For instance, non-profit organizations and political associations want their email marketing message to result in a call to action that could include:

  • Making a donation;
  • Attending a meeting;
  • Joining the organization; or
  • Volunteering at an upcoming event.

Whatever result you seek, the message must get beyond the clutter. Start by focusing on quality rather than quantity by cleaning your database.

“Email marketing works best when you speak to those who really want to hear from you,” says D. J. Waldow, co-author of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing.

Northwest Orange County is very diverse. Whether you are a business, non-profit or political organization, keep the following in mind when creating your email marketing campaign:

  • One email does not fit all. Know your market segments and create different email campaigns that target to their needs. (The Democrats did an exceptional job of this in the 2012 presidential campaign.)
  • Subject line must grab the reader’s attention. Even if all the recipients in your database are likely to want to read the message, the subject line must interest them so they open it up.
  • Maintain a consistent personality based on what you are selling/promoting. Consistent messaging is very important because the tone comes through the words. For instance, you don’t want to be humorous in one email and very serious in the next one.
  • Are people reading your message? According to Silverpop’s Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study (July 2012), the average open rate is 20 percent. Other metrics that can determine if your email marketing campaign is working are:
    • Click-through rates – The number of people who took an action after reading your message, such as clicking on a link or requesting information.
    • Conversion rates – The number of people who completed the call to action such as making a purchase or donation.
  • Use imagery and be creative. Even a short email message can be boring if it’s all copy. But at the same time, including stock photos that everyone can download, could be equally boring. Consider using your own staff photos or Instagram and Pinterest, which don’t have to be perfect, just interesting.
  • Don’t overdo the imagery. Digital marketing experts suggest that your message should be 80 percent text, 20 percent image. Just as the Marketing Maven makes her columns easy on the eyes with short paragraphs and bullet points, email marketing messages should do the same.
  • Call to action. This should be in two formats:
    • Text link – To the landing page on your website, for example
    • Simple action – Phone number to call
  • Social sharing. Write the email message for the recipient, but consider how it might have imagery or information that the recipient would want to forward, link or post.

Email marketing in political campaigns

Digital marketing in political campaigns came into their own during the 2008 presidential campaign. President Obama’s campaign did a masterful job of employing the latest technology while John McCain’s campaign did not. By 2012, the Republican Party and specifically its conservative wing, realized that email marketing was critical to winning elections.

Ah, but Republicans still lost the campaign. The fact is that the GOP and Tea Party had improved, but not enough. Specifically, the Mitt Romney campaign had a one-size-fits-all message (the economy) in their TV, print and electronic marketing messages while Democrats had different messages for each segment of voters and then knew the best way to reach them.

Here are two views about how failure to market, including digital marketing, cost Republicans the election:

“Republicans lost because they forgot marketing” – John Tantillo – November 16, 2012

He (Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager) decided to organize the campaign like a large corporation, paying close attention to how best to gather market data, analyze it and then make it available so that staff and volunteers could use it to engage voters. He made sure they had a mobile phone app so they could access critical data in the field and deployed an email campaign that was metric-driven.

“Republicans Should Use Targeted Marketing Strategies” – Zach Krajacic
American Thinker – January 13, 2013
A political election campaign is essentially a marketing campaign, except that you are selling a person (and his or her ideas) rather than a product or service. During the recent presidential election, the Democrats effectively used the same marketing techniques that businesses use — market segmentation, targeted messaging, and emotion-based selling. The Republicans should consider adopting a similar model to win future elections.

Create a successful email campaign

Whether you are selling a product or service, seeking donations to your non-profit or looking for members to join your political organization, email marketing should be part of your overall marketing campaign. It can help retain existing customers/members as well as engage potential ones.

Featured photo

Marketing Maven Robin Itzler reads a poorly pitched marketing email.

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About the Author

Robin Itzler
Robin Marlena Itzler has worked in some facet of marketing, communications or training throughout her career. Recognized for her marketing expertise, Robin is theMarketing Maven for the “Orange County Breeze,” where her columns intertwine marketing and politics. She also authors the Pet Tails feature in the monthly “Breeze” print edition and Market My Words in Pet Sitters International's "World" magazine. As a training coordinator and public speaker, Robin is involved with a variety of projects – facilitating public speaking, writing and generational differences workshops. She and her husband own Royal Care Pet Sitting, which has been serving pet owners since 1998. Their love for animals began as humane shelter volunteers where for nearly 20 years they walked and bathed rescued dogs. A former NASD licensed securities representative, Robin once served as president of the Animal Assistance League of Orange County In 2011, she founded Motivate Your Something. Along with her autobiography, Life Is an Open Seating, Robin promotes her belief that everyone has at least one challenge in life that makes getting to the starting line harder. What is Robin's something? She is legally deaf.



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