Category Archives: Mail

Detox from bad marketing habits

pencils targetOne of the worst things companies can do is the status quo: doing just enough to get by but not going the extra mile while promoting their organizations. The bare minimum won’t cut it anymore. Your customers have other choices and your competitors are going after them. Are you missing out on potential opportunities?

Don’t let your marketing plan continue in a rut. Old habits are hard to break, but you can do it in small steps. Don’t try to change everything at once – you’ll overwhelm yourself and go back to your old ways.

Do any of these bad habits sound familiar?

The status quo

Many of us feel compelled to continue on the road most traveled and are comfortable doing what everyone else has done. But what if you decided to break away from the pack and venture into uncharted territory? Would you stand out? The answer is yes.

First, you have to have a strong backing – financially and organizationally – for your initiatives to work. Commit to your cause and fight for it. Going outside the norm entails some risk, but the benefits can be huge. Assess whether your return outweighs the risk.

Relying on emails           

Too many times, companies rely solely on generic email campaigns rather than communicating with prospects through personally addressed letters and emails, phone calls, and targeted ads. The average prospect receives too many mass emails and yours are getting lost in the mix.

Using purchased marketing lists

Don’t do it. Purchasing lists increases your bounce and unsubscribe rates. When people are spammed with emails they didn’t sign up for, they’re more likely to reject what you’re selling – even if they’re in the market for your product. It’s better to build your list by generating interest through website and social media channels. Purchased lists are not targeted. The people who are on them don’t know who you are and didn’t ask you to email them.

Inadequate content

Don’t send stale, insufficient content to your prospects. Find out what they’re interested in and highlight those topics. You can do this through trial and error. Look at your analytics for specific topics in your newsletters and e-blasts. If certain topics have high open rates, it’s a good indication your prospects are interested in learning more. Try writing another article related to that topic. If you get stuck, you may want to hire a professional writer.

To summarize, build your contact list with clean, opted-in prospects. Use a combination of targeted e-blasts, newsletters, offers, and/or phone calls to promote your company. Focus on providing quality, insightful content and be creative ways in getting the word out.

Dealing with a tight budget? Make do with what you have: Focus your energy on improving your content and design.

What targeted marketing efforts work for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Mind your email marketing manners

Good marketers know that when it comes to gathering information on prospects, permission rules. The European Union is hammering that point home these days with a new set of privacy rules, which are set to take effect May 25.

The rules require marketers to get explicit consent from website visitors before tracking and storing their information, so companies that have prospects across the pond should take note. While the rules apply mainly to companies that use cookies on their websites to tailor ads to visitors, marketers who direct their customers through their websites to read e-newsletters or other marketing messages also need to comply with the law by having subscribers opt in.

The European Union’s get-tough stance on privacy goes back to the No. 1 rule of marketing etiquette: Always ask permission. Remember, just because a guy connected to your LinkedIn profile or exchanged business cards with you, he doesn’t necessarily want your e-newsletter. Ask before collecting a prospect’s information — and don’t even think about buying lists of names from other companies. Sending emails to people on purchased lists can get you blacklisted as a spammer and possibly in hot water with regulators. That goes for both sides of the pond.

Here are a few other etiquette tips for building and maintaining your mailing list the right way:

  • Keep it confidential. When someone trusts you with personal information, honor that trust. Don’t share email addresses or other prospect information with third parties, and post your confidentiality policy on your site.
  • Identify yourself. Send messages from an email address that belongs to a specific person in your company so that subscribers know exactly who’s emailing them.
  • Give them a reminder. If you’ve been collecting email addresses for years, some of your subscribers may have forgotten why the heck they’re getting email from you. Add a note to your messages that says, “You’re receiving this email because you signed up for news and offers from XYZ Company.”

  • Make changes easy. Include a link on your messages that allows subscribers to opt out of future messages or update their information. When prospects make changes, send them prompt confirmation that you have completed their requests.
  • Obey the law. The United States has its own laws regarding email marketing, such as using an accurate subject line, including a physical address on the message and giving recipients a heads up that the message is an ad.

Mail fail

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) recently announced a $3.5-billion loss in third quarter 2010. USPS attributes this largely to the drop in mail volume – which is down a whopping 20 percent since 2007. There is no question that a reduction in direct mail is responsible for this. Whether companies are replacing their mail marketing activities with e-mail and social media, or cutting back on marketing in general, the trend away from mail has been clear for some time.

While more expensive than e-mail, good, old-fashioned snail mail still has its place, particularly in the b-to-b world. I touched on this idea here, and think it’s an important point to bring up in light of USPS’ enduring struggles. Most companies can’t, and shouldn’t replace mail entirely with electronic communications. Here are some tips on using direct mail appropriately and efficiently:

  • Find out how your customers like to receive their communications, and plan marketing campaigns accordingly. Do they use electronic invitations often? If they’ve never heard of Evite, for example, think twice before forgoing printed invitations to your company’s next important event.
  • Use mail when the stakes are high and you want to make a splash. People are more likely to look at and remember nicely done printed pieces. They may even tack them to their cubicle walls.
  • Be selective. Mail is expensive, so don’t waste your resources on unqualified contacts. If you’re on a budget, make sure that your direct mail lists are targeted and that the design and copy of your mail pieces are equally targeted to those audiences.
  • Integrate with the Web. Just because you’re using mail doesn’t mean you should abandon more technologically advanced mediums: Drive people to your website or campaign-specific landing pages and encourage them to connect with you through social media using vanity or personalized URLs on your mailers.

While the USPS may be flailing, mail should not be overlooked as a relevant form of direct marketing.