Padding, spacers and other tricks2. April 2013
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E-mail marketing and sales: a cat-chase-dog scenario
In theory, sales organizations should love e-mail marketing – it delivers what they have always dreamed of: measurable digital interaction that enables them to say which customer or prospect is interested in what. And this doesn’t involve probability and the law of averages, it is about providing specific names. Multi-stage follow-up processes are fully integrated and end to end – from the initial interest right up to the purchasing decision. Completing the sale is then as easy as ABC. Moreover, an added benefit is highly accurate market research that is far more precise than conventional methods because it is based on the interaction of e-mail recipients. However, this new-and-efficient aspect of marketing is considered a threat by many – and understandably so. If traditional sales organizations refuse to break treasured habits, then new types of sales organizations that support digital marketing will spring up to replace them.
“If we know where you click, we know what you want”
Multi-stage e-mail marketing wins deals
Classic sales organizations concentrate on hot leads and existing customers. However, this is often just the tip of the iceberg. Just beneath the waterline there are many potential customers that sales professionals are unaware of, and they must be guided to purchasing decisions via a multi-stage information and interaction process. Professional e-mail marketing makes this possible, and – geared to a sales follow-up process – can become a powerful cross-selling and up-selling tool.
A message will only be accepted if it is relevant. The main problem with printed mailings is that the same necessarily unspecific and superficial information has to be sent to all recipients. E-mail marketing, on the other hand, enables content to be automatically tailored to each and every individual by using customer profiles in the company’s database. As a result, it is possible to ensure that all target groups within an organization’s buying center are only sent relevant, made-to-measure information: managers, for example, are given the lowdown on how a particular product could benefit the business as a whole, while individual user departments are given details of specific product fea-tures and services. The depth of information is just as important as the scope: e-mail campaigns are one-stop offers, and readers must be able to drill down to the level of granularity they require – ideally right up to the purchasing decision.
Links deliver hard facts
Measuring interaction on the Internet – for example, when a reader clicks on a link – is a highly accurate and reliable way of gaining insight into your audience. It is therefore crucial that every topic and every new feature in the mailing is summarized in a short paragraph, and linked to more detailed information. As soon as the recipient clicks on “read more here”, the sender discovers more about them – i.e. that they are interested in that particular topic. As well as providing the reader with more in-depth facts and figures, the landing page can also present further interaction opportunities – for exam-ple, the chance to download a white paper, to order an evaluation CD, to visit a webinar, or to contact the company. In short, e-mail marketing makes it easy to measure whatever the recipient is doing.
Names not percentages
Percentages don’t place orders – people do. Because e-mails are only sent to named recipients who have given their consent either explicitly or implicitly, it is possible to track interaction and link it to specific individuals. Analyzing the response does not just reveal, for example, that “17 percent of recipients have read this article”, but that “the following 659 people are interested in this product”. E-mail marketing can provide sales teams with a concrete list of names to be used in downstream processes. It is even useful to know when a reader has not clicked on a particular link, as it shows that con-tacting this person would more than likely be a waste of time.
Playing with a tennis racket on a soccer pitch
Measuring digital interaction takes collaboration between the communications department and the sales department to a completely new level of efficiency – provided they both play by the same rules, of course. In other (more negative) words: marketing can qualify leads until it is blue in the face, but if the sales organization does not have the relevant structures in place to process this information, then sales figures will never increase. Sales and marketing teams should therefore agree on and adhere to a model for the follow-up process. E-mail marketing campaigns can easily be tailored to any kind of process. So, in theory, marketing and sales could define criteria for the quality of a lead, i.e. the point when it is handed over to the sales organization. In practice, unfortunately, few companies have a clearly-defined model for handling leads.
Adapt or die
Measuring digital interaction has completely changed marketing. Not only has it become more objective, it has also become more efficient. And this efficiency is now affecting sales teams, presenting them with opportunities as well as challenges. The stronger the competition, the less companies can afford a sales organization that does not take full advantage of the potential to increase sales and to improve efficiency – be it because they traditionally do not like interference from marketing, or simply because they find it too hard to give up established structures and the habits they know and love. The truth of the matter is that those who don’t adapt will die – the ball is in the sales team’s court.