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43 entries from October 2008

Email: Isn't It About Communicating?

The global financial meltdown reminds us again how important good communications are in our societies.

In 1929, the United States experienced a major stock-market crash, which precipitated disastrous bank runs – thousands of account-holders descended on their local financial institutions, demanding their life savings in cash – and contributed to what we now call The Great Depression.

As news spread over the last few weeks about potential failures in the financial markets, the specter of the bank run rose again as people talked again about withdrawing their hard-earned money before it disappeared.

But it didn't happen and isn't likely to happen in most countries throughout the world. I believe we will avoid failure because of the systems and protections enacted throughout the world to avert these runs and because of the instantaneous nature of communications.

While TV, radio and the Internet alerted people to the financial-system meltdown, customers could go online and read press releases from the affected banking institutions and government bodies and be reassured that their savings were either insured or protected.

Where does email come in to play? I personally have direct relationships with three financial institutions (not including credit-card issuers, mutual funds, etc.). Only one of them has reached out to communicate with me about the market turbulence in the last few weeks.

This company has sent me three separate emails, all meant to educate and reassure me about my accounts and status of the financial markets.

One of the other institutions is, in fact, a well-known bank that has been in the headlines in the last few days as pieces of the bank will be sold to another bank. But nary a communication from them. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

As marketers, we spend most of our time talking about things such as customer acquisition, conversion rates, average order size, revenue per email and other short-term top-line-oriented metrics.  But, at its core, email is still a communications channel from consumer to consumer and between businesses and consumers.

The emails I received from the one financial institution recognized that we had a relationship and sought to strengthen it through timely, candid and reassuring communications.

My point here is not to talk about the quality of crisis communications but to make us think about all the ways to use email beyond the typical approach of sell, sell, sell.

For most businesses and consumers, email is still the most efficient and quickest way to communicate. When developing your email program and communication cadence, build in the aspect of basic, value-added communications: keeping your subscribers and customers up-to-date on both good and bad news.

It might be as simple as a notice that a popular product is out-of-stock, a bulletin that seminar registration is full, a Web site will be down for maintenance, or you have to add a fuel surcharge because of higher jet-fuel costs.

At its core, email is a communications vehicle, not a just billboard for your latest free-shipping offer. Use email for all it can be.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

New Blogger on BeRelevant: Loren McDonald

Please join me in welcoming Loren McDonald as a new blogger on BeRelevant!

I am very proud to have Loren on board because he has been a real source of inspiration for me ever since I got into email marketing 7 years ago.

Here a short introduction:

Loren McDonald (VP, Industry Relations at Silverpop) has 24 years of experience in marketing, consulting and strategic planning. Prior to Silverpop, he was vice president of corporate communications at Lyris, Inc., and had served as vice president of marketing at EmailLabs. McDonald was founder and president of Intevation, an e-marketing services firm specializing in email and search engine marketing services. He's held executive marketing positions at companies including USWeb/CKS, NetStruxr and Arthur Andersen.

An acknowledged email marketing industry thought leader, McDonald is a columnist for the Media Post Email Insider column, MarketingProfs' GetToThePoint newsletter, contributes regularly to DM News, Silverpop's Digital Marketer and Connections newsletters and various blogs including ',' 'Tales from the Marketing Execution Suite,' 'Demand Generation,' and of course BeRelevant.

He is a frequent speaker at major industry conferences and events and is co-chair of the DMA's eec Email Measurement & Accuracy committee. In 2005, he was selected Marketing Executive of the Year by the American Business Awards (the Stevie's). An industry email newsletter he launched in 2003 won seven awards including Best B2B e-newsletter from both MarketingSherpa and the ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards.

Welcome Loren! I look forward to some inspiring and at times provocative posts! :-)

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

The Secret is out!

Bill McCloskey has written an excellent article for Infobox, The True Secret of Successful Email Marketing.

I love Bill's line of thought: "The real secret to email marketing has nothing to do with deliverability, rendering, or any number of other technical issues we discuss to take our minds off our dwindling response rates. The real secret has to do with Creative. What are you sending to the customers that you reach to make them want your message in the first place? Not only want it, but desire it?"

He then goes on to give some examples (including images) of some welcome letters which do it right and go towards building a rewarding relationship with their subscribers..

Read Bill's article:

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!