Email marketing has been an integral part of overall marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. I attended Email Marketing Roundtable conference held on 19th August, 2011 organized by Internet Mobile Association Of India (IAMAI) and netCORE Solutions .
It was quite expected that the panel discussion is going to be more on how B2C marketers use Email marketing medium in their media-mix, for an obvious reason that B2C businesses deal with much larger audience base than what it would be for a B2B business.
Having handled various media components of Internet marketing (Display Ads, Search, Email and now Social Media), I could connect the dots during the conference. Each of the afore-mentioned internet marketing channels is a subject in itself to be studied and make career in. Basic Marketing concepts remain same and apply to all the channels. Let me briefly touch upon these marketing concepts for Email as medium to get your message to targeted audience:
- Target Audience Profiling: Email Database acquisition (single / double opt-in) and segmentation are the first set of tasks for an email marketer. It infact should be an on-going process for every marketer to keep profiling (create and update) subscribers list. For immediate campaign requirement, you can research and find out authenticated sources to get the database.
- Concept creation and development of content: Making sure message is as relevant as possible to the segment to prompt consumers for an action. Sub-components are:
- Subject Line: Generate Interest – This is where marketer creates the first punch and makes consumer to open the email to read on the full message.
- Content of the email: Clearly explains the offer details and how user can avail the same.
- Landing page: where users can take the final action and make a purchase or start the buying process.
- Analaytics and Follow-up: ROI is the favourite word for any marketer. Analytics give marketer the insight to understand their audience better but also help to chalk out plans to improve on the business. Many Email service providers, like netCORE, offer end-to-end everything from delivery to tracking and analytics. You can also see the review here of top 10 email marketing service providers.
The key takeaways from the conference:
- Content is the king – Message needs to be as relevant as possible. Challenge here is, when you deal with such huge audience, it becomes difficult to attend individual prospects’ interests. There is nothing much that one can do but to segment the audience in buckets and frame your message accordingly.
- Email personalization: Make your prospect feel important
- Handling Customer Fatigue – This was one point which almost every member on the panel touched upon. Users either delete the emails and/or unsubscribe on receipt. How each of the businesses handle the issue of losing subscribers? Some strictly respect customers’ decision of not to be contacted further. Others say, their customers who are not interested at the moment might be interested in future, hence they don’t really stop sending offers forever, but touch base with them periodically.
- Images v/s Text: Most of the users now read messages using various smart phones. The challenge is to make sure there is a balance in using Image + Text in your content so that the file is not heavy.
- Business Intelligence: Behavioural analytics being used to understand how a user is dealing with this communication channel and also to deal with ever-changing parameters of various ISP service providers. Based on the profiling of customers based on their behavior over a period, marketers need to keep updating the database in terms of the email list recency and frequency of campaigns.
- Social Media integration: Beauty of Internet media is that it constantly changes. Marketing 2.0 is becoming more inbound. Hence, there should an element of inbound marketing even in the very direct nature of email marketing campaign.
- Newsletter: A very logical way of keeping in touch with customers for cross or upselling.
Other than the above, panel discussions and follow-on Q&A session touched upon other aspects of content strategies like:
- Importance of unique content with required permission from other brands/celebrity of whom the images/logos are used in the email message to avoid Copyright issues
- On an on-going basis work on offers to gain back the lost subscribers
For B2B marketers, the target audience is subject matter experts, and the sales cycle is comparatively long. Though the basic concept remains same for both B2B and B2C marketers, key takeaways for B2B marketers from the conference:
- Email marketing is one among the other marketing channels that should be used to create various touch point in the sales cycle.
- Any response should be followed by phone call and/or by a visit.
Overall, it was a great experience to be part of India’s 3rd Roundtable on Email Marketing. Internet media is still emerging in India and there is no doubt it is going to take over traditional advertising channels. Marketers have to be on their toes to keep up with the ever changing internet technology and make most out of it.
One thing that I missed hearing about during the conference and this is backbone of any Email marketing activity is about the Database or Email List. How and from where to acquire authenticated Database for your email campaign? This is a challenge for anyone who doesn’t have their own list building activity going on, which is a long and should be an on-going process for any business. For instance if a B2B marketer is planning a Service/Product launch in next one month and have a small Database which s/he can’t really depend on to reach out to targeted mid-market businesses out there personally via Email. What should be the way out? If the marketer decides to buy the list, there are questions on ‘authenticity’ and ‘periodicity of the quality check’ of such Database. Let me know guys/gals, your thoughts on this and of-course on all of the above!
Rakesh Singh | Marketing Manager | www.maintec.com