First published August 6, 2008
Yesterday I participated in a webinar sponsored by Target Marketing Magazine that focused on getting the most out of your emails to customers. The presenters were sharing the results of a study across four vertical markets. I learned some amazing facts such as:
- 30% of marketers do not send an email to interested prospects within 30 days of the prospect making herself known to the company through a subscribe/send me more information process.
- Another 25% do not send the first email within 9 days.
- 60% do not send welcome messages.
- 70% collect enough information in the sign-up process to customize messages and then don't use the information.
I don't know about your experience, but the educational publishers I have worked with spend enormous amounts of time crafting their email communication with their customers. Although, K-12 publishing was not one of the vertical markets surveyed in this instance, it does make me wonder what kind of waste would we see in our own industry?
Because waste is exactly what this is. Squandering opportunities to immediately set the tone of the relationship while the prospect is still warm and has some level of awareness of your company and your offering. Email has become the primary communication tool for most industries. In K-12 education, more and more classroom educators, in addition to all the administrative folks, have computer access during their work day, and are becoming more reachable via email.
Email is efficient, inexpensive and can be instrumental in establishing a personal relationship. So what best practices can we determine from the wasted opportunities listed above?
- Getting a customer or prospect's attention can be difficult, so let's not waste a branding opportunity at the beginning of the relationship.
- Immediately after the prospect signs up for additional information, send them a return email welcoming them to your site and set their expectations about doing business with your company.
- If you collect information during the sign-up process, only ask for what you need and use what you get to customize your customer messages. Otherwise, you've established an expectation for a customized message and disappointed your potential customers in the very first communication with them. How interested do you think they'll remain after that?
- If possible, include something of immediate value to them. One of the best practice examples in the presentation was a large food company that sends a welcome note within one minute to sign-ups and includes a recipe in the email which sets a high-value impression with the prospect.
Whatever your strategy is in developing the customer relationship, keep how the customer will feel when they receive your messages top of mind. Use this first communication to brand yourself, establish trust, and set positive customer expectations.
Check out The 3 Big Questions in Sales and Marketing for more on how to improve the customer's experience with your company.