Effective E-mail Marketing
Traditionally, most custom framers have found direct mail an effective method of marketing business. While it can still be a useful tool for marketing to clients, the return on this type of investment continues to decline as postage prices rapidly increase and it becomes increasingly difficult to be noticed among the hundreds of pieces bombarding homeowners each month.
An organized email program that focuses on client interests is a cost-effective way to grow your business
For these reasons, a well organized and systematic approach to building an email marketing program can be a valuable and cost effective way to grow business. Several aspects of this type of marketing must be considered however to make it effective. A poorly planned or poorly communicated email campaign can actually hurt relationships with clients or easily be overlooked as junk mail.
Email marketing is most effective when it produces “quality touches” with clients that address their various individual needs. A marketing strategy that provides the type of information considered valuable to those who read it increases the effectiveness of your message. Since clients have different types of needs, an effective E-mail marketing program covers several layers of communication.
People who understand relationship building skills are aware that one of the keys to building good relationships is to show a sincere interest in the person with whom they are speaking. Their focus is on getting to know and understand the other person, and they accomplish this by asking questions and letting them talk about themselves. Email messages are most effective when approached in the same manner. Contrary to traditional marketing methods which focus on touting the business, email messages are more likely read and responded to when they focus on the person receiving the message. This is because the nature of the media is one that is personalized and direct. It appears as though you are speaking to the recipient only- even if you have sent the message to hundreds of other clients. Because it is received on a personal computer and sent directly to them, email can be a very good tool in building relationships, especially if the focus of the messages is aimed at the client.
Areas of Communication
Consider some of these areas of communication when developing your E-mail marketing plan:
- Provide information that benefits your clients.
this includes areas like notifying clients that projects are completed, following up after the sale to check the satisfaction of your client after the project has been hung, sending pictures of proposed designs using virtual framing programs, and responding to the questions and needs of individual clients.
- Celebrate and promote your business.
Create an atmosphere of excitement and buzz about your gallery by sending emails featuring pictures of completed projects and short stories of those using your service. Talk about your clients, making them the focus of your communication. Clients love to read about themselves and also about the stories of others. This is a great way to personalize your message and use it to build relationships. Remember, the key is to build “quality touches” with clients and this will build relationships. Also remember to include testimonials from these featured clients.
- Offer Promotions and Incentives.
Send your E-mail clients coupons and incentives to increase the number of times they visit your gallery. Send them on a consistent basis and give them a good value. Doing this is very important in growing the participation to your program. If clients perceive a real value to receiving and reading your emails, they will respond to them and it will be easier to decrease your direct mail expenses.
- Grow your website hits.
Tie your E-mail messages to your website. Create links in your emails that connect readers to areas of your website that relate or expound upon email topics. Doing so brings clients to the site where they will hopefully learn more about your company and the products and services you offer.
Creating Client Participation
Communicating with email programs designed to inform, educate, and promote your business can be very effective. Getting enough clients to become part of the program can be a difficult and slow process. Try some of these ideas to get the program rolling:
- Ask EVERY client to join the program. Think of the campaign as a separate program from marketing efforts of the past. Create a list of incentives for joining-things like coupons and promotions only offered to those on the program, advanced notice of gallery events, and special services offered to program members. Give your new program a catchy name that implies members have joined something that gives them a real value.
- Send out a direct mail piece asking clients to provide their email address. Offer a discount or other incentive to those who comply. Be sure to communicate the extra benefits of joining the program.
- Make it easy for clients to join. You can do this by creating a signup area on your website that allows them to join the email program. Follow up all new sign ups with an energetic email that explains all the benefits of joining the program. Provide a “welcome to the program” gift or special savings.
- Provide incentives for referrals. Send gift certificates to members who refer a new signup to the program. Be sure to tout this as a way to get savings on framed projects.
- Make it clear and easy to unsubscribe from the program, and be sure clients know you will never violate their privacy by selling their information.
- Use correct phrases in the email subject line. Spam filters often automatically junk mail messages that use the word save or sale. Messages containing exclamation points can also receive the same fate. Be sure recipients know the message is coming from your gallery- remember they WANT to be part of your program, and look forward to receiving your communication.
- Set goals for growing the number of clients who have signed up. The ultimate goal is to convert from using direct mail to keep in contact with clients to using email as your primary method of contacting your data base. Consider creating company contests that reward your team members for signing up new members to the program, and track the program growth. If you have a POS system, code the names of those who belong to the email program and begin tracking how sales to them relate to sales to the clients not on the program.
Growing your email marketing database and using it to build quality touches with clients is a great business building tool. It’s also a profitable one since it has minimal costs and can replace the rising price of direct mail. Build your email marketing strategy and the tactics for implementing that strategy today. Provide incentives for your team members to grow membership and remember to focus the messages you sent on the client to build better relationships. Keeping these key elements in mind in the beginning will help build a great email marketing program.