Avoiding the Pitfalls of Email Marketing in a Tough Economy

Email marketing stills gets a bad rap. The controversy about email marketing is a quagmire that leaves many business owners in confusion in its wake.

According to a study by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing delivers the highest return on investment of all media available to marketers. The study also projects that email driven sales in the United States will show a compound annual growth rate of 14.9% between 2006 and 2011. But statistics like that only bring about real value when email marketing can show it impacts long-term customer-relationship-based revenue streams.

Patrick Valtin, a.k.a. “Mr. Crisis Buster” by his many clients, President of M2-TEC USA, INC. and author of the book Crisis Buster, claims email marketing is highly profitable if done correctly. The main mistake is trying to convert a prospect when embarking on email marketing, he says. The direction one should take is instead is trying to attract a qualified prospect.

But in tough business environments, people get desperate and violate the most important principles of email marketing. Valtin, whose motto is: ‘Success should NOT depend on economic conditions!’ says email marketing, is an especially vital business activity when done correctly.

Attract first, don’t try to convert. It’s actually common sense if you think about it. What if some one came up to you and said BUY THIS with no enticement as to what it was and what it could do for you? Would you buy (convert)? Probably not. But say a girl scout comes to your door with a tray of cookies for you to pick one to sample. Did she entice you, attract your attention first? Yep, mostly likely. And how many boxes did you buy? And moreover, how many will you buy year after year after year on a regular basis?

Those emails that do attract your attention and entice you by putting that cookie in front of you to nibble on – those are the successful approaches.

That begs the question if they already are opt-in prospects, do you still have to attract - aren’t they already qualified prospects if they are in your database?

Not always, according to Patrick. Patrick points out the best ROI approach to email marketing is to promote to inactive prospects and sleeping customers in your data base with the purpose to get them active - to turn them into (entice them to be) regular, loyal customers. Sleeping customers should also be treated as prospects. Old, inactive prospects were curious enough to inquire into your company to begin with. That is the crucial point as Valtin explains. “The biggest false data out there is the saying ‘they were just curious’ as to the reason a prospect didn’t close. Look up curious in the dictionary – it is interest.” So curiosity IS interest. It is up to you to entice them even further so they become “sold”. Sold equates to being a repeat customer.

Valtin goes on to say that the ways to first attract prospects are done with classical marketing techniques before email marketing comes into the picture: pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization with your website, direct mail marketing – the “more traditional” forms are the channels used to attract. Then once you get a prospect or even a first-time customer you can start email marketing to them.

Once your prospects are on your opt-in list, you have to entice. Just on a different level. You have their interest – now hook them.

Three common mistakes in email marketing are:
•    Trying to sell through the marketing email. You have to cut the gradient to attract and then convert. The question is: what will motivate them to join your list?

•    Making the subject line too ambiguous; using trite phrases that are actually considered SPAM. What you have to watch, Valtin also warns, is “too hot or too juicy is looked upon as SPAM by search engine spiders.”

And

•    Not being consistent with “From” address line. From very beginning, the “From” line should be consistent. Even here there is a need to have instant recognition.

With customers receiving hundreds of emails per week and checking their email an average of 4 times per day, it is no wonder that email marketing has taken off. But don’t fall in the trap of using it incorrectly. According to Valtin, when you screw up on email marketing lines with prospects or customers, you get cut off and most likely don’t get another chance. It’s too easy to junk your email address and be shut off from further communication.

Three Valtin tips for being successful in email marketing are:
•    Make the subject line personalized. “How would you like a free weekend in Acapulco” compared with “Dear Jane, how would you….” increases by 200-300% your chances it will be opened. (Note: opened not converted…but attracted.)

•    Make one-time customers into repeat customers. Offer an exclusive newsletter only for customers with highly valuable content.

•    Have an option for people who subscribe to your newsletter to systematically send it to a friend which acts as a referral and consequently per Valtin, makes it viral. SPAM legislation still requires those friends to opt-in before you can start emailing to them, but the referral raises your credibility and will give you more “bang for your buck!”

Valtin says there are many more principles to learn about email marketing. Having studied marketing and sales trends for the last 35-plus years, he packs a lot of lore under his skull. He’s been in the training/coaching business for over 22 years and has personally trained over 75,000 people in 27 countries on the subjects of sales, sales management and marketing strategies.  

“Permission-based email communications can solidify existing relationships, initiate new ones and convert one-time clients into long-term customers,” Valtin advises. “Relationship-building emails leverage what businesses need more than ever in an economic crisis - more sales.”

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