I wanted to begin the last part in our e-mail marketing series by repeating two statistics:
1. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s annual Power of Direct report, e-mail generates an average ROI of $40, nearly double its closest competitor.
2. More than 85% of all e-mails sent on any given day are unwanted spam.
Taken together, these figures highlight the fact that e-mail continues to be a marketing powerhouse, but it’s also becoming more challenging to hit the Inbox. The bar gets raised every year.
So what are the rules of the road? Here are a handful of suggestions:
Collect current e-mail addresses! Sounds like common sense, right? Of course you need addresses, but don’t assume that someone’s five-year old Hotmail address will perform as well as an address the customer provided during their latest transaction.
By asking, you can not only obtain fresh e-mail addresses, but you create the expectation that the customer will receive e-mail from your business. Based on years of looking at e-mail list performances, I can say that current addresses collected by the dealership significantly outperform: old addresses, purchased lists and addresses added through e-mail appending.
Ask the right way! Merely asking “Can I have your e-mail address?” sets you up for failure. Instead, define the proposition and create demand for your e-mail program. If there is no e-mail address on file, ask, “What would be the best e-mail address for us to contact you with service reminders or potential warranty issues?” If there is an existing address on file, you can start the question with: “Is this address still the best one to use…?”
Honor unsubscribe requests immediately! Under CAN-SPAM, the sender has ten days to make sure that no more e-mail is sent to the recipient after an unsubscribe request is received. Under the same law, whoever pays to have an e-mail sent is the sender.
If you use a third-party that reports opt-out requests and complaints back to you, as every e-mail vendor should, be sure to remove those addresses from your local DMS. This way, no new e-mails under your name are delivered to customers who have request to opt-out. There is one exception: you can send specific information if the customer requests it.
Consider all of your e-mail sources! Here’s a common scenario: A dealership sends sales and service e-mail campaigns through one third-party vendor, and e-mail newsletters through a different vendor. The same dealership also sends campaigns through their CRM system, and their sales staff e-mails customers directly.
Add these up and you may find your business is sending multiple campaigns every week, which gives your recipients more opportunity to unsubscribe or hit the SPAM button. You also risk what’s called “list fatigue,” where recipients just stop paying attention because they’ve grown numb to your messages. A good rule of thumb? Try not to send more than three campaigns per month.
E-mail is not a billboard! When you advertise on billboards or in print, you hope that potential customers notice your ad as they drive by or turn the page. E-mail is very different: You are delivering a message directly to the customer’s Inbox.
A 2010 study by Lyris, analyzing four million e-mail opens, shows that “readers spend less than two seconds looking at your e-mail.” This means that, as dealers, there is very little time to attract the recipient’s attention before the message gets discarded, sent to spam or unsubscribed. Ensure that the main points of the message are included in the upper half of the e-mail. If possible, try to keep your entire e-mail “above the fold,” or short enough that the reader doesn’t have to scroll to see all of the content. Long e-mails that require scrolling to the bottom are wasted opportunities when readers don’t scroll down to the bottom.
Who’s the expert? You may be your own expert. You receive e-mails everyday, but only respond to a select few. Which ones grab your eye? More importantly, which ones entice you to make a purchase or take another action? Finally, how frequently can a commercial sender e-mail you before you decide they’ve crossed the line separating legitimate businesses from spammers?
As a business owner, employee, or marketer, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that your customers are likely to respond just as you would. Don’t fall into the trap of losing customers to opt outs and complaints by being too aggressive or not addressing your customers’ needs.
Click below to read the other articles in this series by Neil Bibbins:
A Brief History of E-mail