Most people want businesses to treat them as individuals, but mass marketing has eliminated many customized approaches. That’s unfortunate, since relationship marketing opens the door to stronger ties with customers, longer retention periods, more repeat business and a high rate of referrals. Customers now have more control over the ads and products they receive than they did in the past. The Internet allows them to make informed choices and better comparisons among products.
To gain consumers’ attention, marketers should push their companies to become more accessible. Treat your customers well, act human, let relationships develop at a natural pace and admit your mistakes. If a client wants to end the relationship, acknowledge that decision.
Create stronger relationships by being honest and forthright with your customers. This can be difficult in some cases. For example, you might not want to make a constructive suggestion or point out a weakness to a client for fear of offending that person. However, people are loyal to your business because they want your expertise. If you don’t offer it readily, they may lose confidence in your company and go elsewhere. When that happens, you lose the “Lifetime Value” (LTV) of those customers, which hurts your company’s profitability.
Not all customers are equally profitable; some provide much higher margins than others. The challenge is to identify the most profitable clients, strengthen relationships with them and keep them coming back. You can do this via e-mail marketing, which has distinct benefits. It is “inexpensive, interactive and data-driven,” and useful to large and small firms alike. Because it transmits your communications instantly, it works well for “time-sensitive content” that may quickly become outdated. You can reach an extensive audience by e-mail and, since it is cheap, you can send more messages without incurring huge additional costs. Yet, in spite of its benefits, e-mail has also created problems. The biggest is the proliferation of unsolicited, irrelevant e-mails, or spam. Although this is an industry-wide problem, the challenge for marketers is to design more focused, high quality messages that build relationships and increase the customers’ LTV.
Engaging the Customer
People who receive your marketing e-mails will often welcome them initially. But, over time, they may tend to disregard them. They become “disengaged.” Minimize this effect by monitoring response rates, which compare the number of e-mails delivered against the probability of receiving a positive response. When this rate begins to fall, use segmentation analysis to create a re-engagement strategy.
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Your e-mail recipients will respond positively to your message if you design it well. Make it relevant to them. Ensure that it conforms with their “past behavior.” Did they react enthusiastically to similar content last week? What strategies have failed to engage them? Use this information to your advantage. Determine how often you should send e-mails for best results – this can vary, depending on the person and the segment. Be creative. Follow the formula that has succeeded in direct-mail marketing: Focus 40% on your audience, 40% on your offer and 20% on creativity.
To increase your probability of success in any e-mail campaign, ask these questions:
- Are you sending the message to the right audience?
- Did you target it correctly?
- Does it explain a distinct benefit?
- Is your e-mail a good length?
- Will the message incite the reader to action?
- Can you measure the results?
Considering these factors helped one client significantly increase its response and conversion rates for e-mails to its database. Its in-house staff implemented an e-mail program that allowed them to personalize and track messages containing premium information and rates. They gained the their attention by offering individualized sales tools and other incentives. This campaign increased the company’s return on investment (ROI) to $4,400 for every dollar spent and resulted in more than $5 million in new sales!