Email Marketing 202 - Prospect Engagement Programs: Fourth in a Series

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In this series, we’re covering email marketing strategy across several dimensions, including Acquisition, Welcome Email, Performance Indicators, Engagement Programs, Program Logic, Cross-Sell and Up-Sell, Re-Engagement, and Email Marketing Platforms.

Click http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2012/06/email-marketing-101-first-in-a-series.html to read #1 in the series, http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2012/06/best-foot-forward-compelling-content-in-the-welcome-message-second-in-a-series.html for #2, and http://blog.CustomerEffective.com/blog/2012/07/email-marketing-202-critical-email-marketing-performance-indicators-third-in-a-series.html for #3.

Now let’s turn our attention to content strategies for new prospects and customers in your email marketing database. We’ll focus on delivering what we think a prospect or customer in the early stages of the marketing and sales process needs or wants to know about the firm’s products and services in a way that’s ‘anticipated, personal, and relevant’ (H/T to Seth Godin, author of Permission Marketing).

In the first article of this series, we introduced a set of key customer relationship questions to explore in the context of email marketing. Here they are again. How do we

...Catch a prospect's attention with compelling content?

...Engage to convert a prospect into a customer?

...Give them multiple reasons to grow their business with us?

...Deliver outstanding value and foster customer loyalty?

...Re-engage and reactivate high-potential former customers?

...Rescue customer relationships on shaky ground?

Emphasis is added on the first two questions in this early educational phase. This is the best time to get to know to the prospect who recently signed up for your e-newsletter. Think of this first outreach as a dialogue between you and your prospect. You should ask a few questions about needs and expectations and adjust your follow-up communications to address those needs and foster a customer-centric relationship.

Wait too long to engage and you’ll find that the person who signed up a few weeks ago doesn’t remember you and marks your message as spam.

Too many companies miss this opportunity to dig deeper to find out what resonates.

Here are the elements of an effective invitation for a prospect to give you some insight on how to proceed.

1.Introduction – Remind the prospect of how we got here. Something to this effect: ‘Thanks for signing up to hear from us. We’re happy to have the opportunity to serve you.’

2.Ask for permission – ‘We’d like to learn more about you. Will you take a few minutes to share a few details?’

3.Something on your website, social network presence, or tradeshow resonated with your new contact, and if you have some data available to personalize the content (‘you might be interested in our recently announced merger with another highly regarded leader in financial services’) this is an opportunity to do so.

4.Tell them what’s going to be asked – ‘Follow this link for a quick questionnaire to help us customize the range of services we’ll offer. We’ll only use this information to personalize the communications you receive from us.’

5.Finally, link to the quick questionnaire page. Your Email Service Provider (ESP) probably offers link tracking, but be sure to also leverage the target site’s source tracking capabilities to calculate an accurate count of the number of ‘conversions’ from this email effort to the questionnaire page. This is an important step in calculating your email marketing ROI in part five of this series.

Curriculum Programs

Now that you have a few pieces of data to work with, it’s time to plan the curriculum that will give your prospect a personalized introduction to your products and services. If this is the first time you have planned a customer education campaign, here are a few pointers.

1. Introduce the program as a series.

2. Provide an outline of the personalized content the customer should expect to see.

3. In every effort, give the prospect an opportunity to contact your firm to receive personal attention by email, call, or click-to-call from a web browser if your site supports it.

4. Use subject lines that clearly anchor the message in the series. For example, ‘Part 2 of 7: Portfolio Investing – Consider These Options’ makes it clear that this message isn’t a one-off, but part of a framework that’s been created based on the questionnaire responses.

5. Respect the inbox. One-to-two personalized messages per week is appropriate if the curriculum is relatively compact and will branch off or end after a fixed number of sends.

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Next time, we’ll cover program logic using decision trees and an eye toward measuring program and campaign ROI.

Post by: Patrick Colbert, Customer Effective 

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