Most email marketers tend to focus on email marketing’s role to generate revenue or some conversion activity. Justifiably so, because email typically generates the highest ROI across your marketing channels and activities.
However, at its core, email is a communications vehicle, with sales being just one of its many uses. Equally important, and even more so at times like this, it’s the quickest way a company can reach out to its customers.
Consider the global financial crisis of a few years ago, when in the United States banks were failing at a rate of more than one per week, and the U.S. government was bailing out major corporations and financial institutions.
I have direct customer relationships with three major financial institutions. In those rocky weeks,
Only one of the three communicated with me to reassure me, explain company actions or advise me on how best to weather the financial storm. Coincidently and not surprisingly, a survey from Opinion Research Corp. found at the time that 46 percent of respondents said the bank in which they have the most assets was not communicating with them enough.
One of the incommunicado institutions, in fact, was a well-known bank whose recent troubles kept it in the headlines. It missed a prime opportunity to reassure concerned depositors, explain its bailout, or explain how to get questions answered.
Every message you send should provide value to your customers or subscribers and help achieve your business and lifetime customer value goals. As the global financial quagmire continues and further contributes to an economic slowdown, smart marketers will use email to help retain customers and maintain or strengthen their brands.
Take a step back and look at your email program more broadly. What would you as your own company’s customer want to receive? The following are just a few different examples, as the opportunities to use email to enhance customer relationships are numerous:
- Update – Customers don’t like surprises. Use email to regularly keep your subscribers and customers up to date on issues that affect their ability to use your product or service.
- Remind – Reminder emails take all forms: appointments, payments due, out-of-stock or low-supply notices, travel reservations, subscription expirations, registration deadlines.
- Nurture – As sales cycles lengthen due to the economic slowdown, use email drip and lifecycle email programs to stay top of mind, build your case and move customers over to sales or to a conversion activity.
- Retain – In a down economy, customers in both the B2B and B2C worlds become more price-sensitive and likely to shop around. Use email proactively to educate your customers on how to get more out of their relationship with your company and general tips related to your company’s business.
- Simplify – Encourage offline customers to move their lives online, handling business such as account statements, automated payments, checking on appointments or reservations, etc., in order to reduce paper, postage, waiting in line or on the phone, or other inconveniences.
- Share – Use email to foster and share ideas among customers.
- Listen – Survey customers on how you can better meet their needs; follow up via email on what you heard and how you’ll respond.
This new breed of email messaging requires flexibility in your frequency schedule. Make sure your messages are on target, highly valued, and aren’t viewed negatively as too many emails. Watch your cadence carefully, considering all the other email your subscribers might be receiving from your company.
Also, segmenting subscribers and customers by customer value or activity and then targeting messages appropriately will get better results. A highly focused email, such as a referral request, a detailed product tip or an upsell message, will likely be annoying to a customer who has never purchased from you.