NEW VIEWPOINT: EMAIL IS LIKE THE TELEPHONE SIMILAR PROTOCOLS SHOULD BE FOLLOWED
All marketers, listen up. Readers treat emails like phone calls, and you must recognize it. As the volume of email per person per day now vastly exceeds phone calls and direct mail, email recipients have become more discerning in how they react and respond to an already overloaded inbox. The primary method of corporate information delivery has switched from telephone to email, and the deluge of email now forces marketers to wonder why their email campaigns are stagnant, ineffective and resulting in single digit response rates. The root of the problem is mismanaging recipients’ expectations. Email communication must follow consistent, socially acceptable business communication protocols. The closest comparison to email in today’s business world is the telephone. Both the telephone and email are used for conversations to connect vendors to customers, prospects, partners and even their employees. Sending email marketing campaigns and generic email newsletters are not conversations, though.
Below are some thoughts to ponder before you send your next-we hate to say it-email campaign. Consider the expectations of your recipients and how they view your communications with them. Do your communications resemble direct mail, or have you begun to adopt a more respectful, and expected, set of telephone rules when using email automation? Remember, readers can delete email as fast as voicemail, and Caller ID is pretty much the same as your From Address and Subject Line. Will your customers, partners, employees and prospects answer or hang up the next time you hit “Send”?
FOCUS ON TIMELINESS
Is the information that you send timely enough for your readers’ needs or are you constrained by traditional email campaigns? For example, what happens when you want to quickly share information about a new product, a recent client win or a price change with prospects, customers or partners? Salespeople who call with these timely updates are usually successful at improving their relationships. Your email updates should be just as timely and even more consistent in reaching interested subscribers. Email relationships should allow you to ask a subscriber when and how often they would like to hear from you. This practice is no different than the instincts your salespeople use to manage their sales calls. Finally, email can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When a new user subscribes, do you send what they want immediately, or do you have to make them wait until your next campaign? Generic “thanks for subscribing” confirmation messages do not show responsiveness or build your relationship with the subscriber. Good salespeople and relationship managers respond immediately and satisfy the information needs quickly and accurately. Your email program should, too.
When your salespeople decide to call a customer, prospect or partner, what motivates this action? Do they have information to share? Most salespeople believe this information would be seen as relevant to the recipient. Would they call if they didn’t know? If you were to leave them a voice message about several different topics without knowing for sure if they were interested, would they call you back? If the topics were irrelevant to their needs, would they take your next call? Think about relevance and try to understand how email should convey your information simply and efficiently. Stay relevant and you audience will respond favorably.
WATCH MESSAGE LENGTH
Ask yourself how long a typical business call lasts. In most cases, people will only discuss one or two topics and the main points can be conveyed in a few minutes. Longer telephone calls usually result from a face-to-face meeting or a planned conversation that meets the longer time expectations of the participants. Similar to your phone calls, do not try to send too much information in your emails. Studies show that most email recipients spend less than 15-20 seconds scanning emails they actually open. They immediately delete the others. Send a summary format with topics that are simple and easy to navigate. Do not over-design your emails or attempt to “boil the ocean” in one transmission. Keep it short and the relevant information will be read, retained and acted upon by your readers.
CREATE DIALOGUE: LISTEN FIRST, THEN RESPOND. LISTEN AGAIN.
How do your emails foster a dialogue with your subscribers? Do you believe email campaigns are interactive? They are not. Do you engage and listen to your readers before you send them email? Do you give recipients a chance to respond and rate your information, or are you just blindly sending without the desire or ability to take feedback. Effective companies sell by listening to their customers, prospects and partners. Does your email strategy give you an ability to listen and respond? You can have an electronic dialogue with your individual readers if you address their interests and exceed their expectations. Finally, when someone asks you for information, are you actually listening to their expectations? These ideas are the very same expectations readers would have if you chose to call them on the phone.
How does your company communicate electronically to retain customers and partners? Are you actually building relationships when you send email to them? More importantly, do your recipients believe you are helping the relationship with the information you send? Do you provide value or an experience that your competition does not? Are your email newsletters generic and merely a sampling of your corporate information, compiled to fish for leads? Do they look and feel like a cold call? Customers and partners know the difference between revenue desperation and long-term relationship and loyalty building. Email newsletters seldom convey a sense of personalized effort and value. Customers and partners who do not feel valued and engaged are difficult to retain.
IMPROVE YOUR REPUTATION
What does your email strategy say about your company and your brand? When your customers, prospects and partners interact with you electronically, it affects their perception of your reputation. Each email is a relationship opportunity that can help you or hurt you. If a salesperson from your company unexpectedly called a customer with generic, untimely, or poorly targeted information, would the receiver view it as a positive boost to your reputation? Additionally, what if that salesperson did not provide a chance for the customer to respond and give feedback? Your emails say a great deal about your efforts to educate, inform, and build relationships, exactly like your employees and their phone calls currently do. Your customers and partners will know when you are making an effort to personalize and impress them. Remember, irrelevant, impersonal and untimely email marketing will train people to ignore you.
EMBRACE THE POWER OF EMAIL
Email’s ubiquity and timeliness make it an ideal relationship medium. Use email as a way to consistently improve your organization’s personality and brand by empowering your readers and inviting them to participate in conversations and relationships with you. Find a technology partner who can really help you manage the process.
Carey Ransom is a co-founder of Truverse. With over 10 years of sales, marketing & business development experience, he has successfully launched, marketed and sold emerging Internet and electronic messaging technologies at companies such as Concur, HAHT Commerce, MessageRite and FrontBridge. He also has consumer sales and marketing experience from Procter & Gamble. Carey has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School. He also holds a B. A. Economics from Indiana University where he was Phi Beta Kappa.
Truverse is a rapidly growing, relationship-based communications software company. We are privately funded, and managed by experienced, entrepreneurial software executives. Our passion is delivering simple, effective communications that improve relationships and decrease internal administrative costs through automation. Our comprehensive solutions are offered either as a managed service or as enterprise software. Visit Truverse at http://www.truverse.com/