Some distributors have been reluctant to deploy and train their employees on email because it carries technical and management issues with how to use it appropriately and effectively.
It’s time to rethink email as a tool. Email does not Spam people; people Spam people. Your competitors are using email to not only reach your customers, but they are using it as the most efficient and cost-effective way to reach your customers. Can you say the same? If you argue that your customers don’t spend time online, it may be true that they don’t visit your Web site to shop for their supplies. But do they use email? Do they have mobile devices?
Email marketing expertise and tools are evolving at a fast rate. Some distributors are able to segment their email database into key customer groups, then tailor an offer into those specific segments. What used to take weeks to get in the mail as a postcard or flyer can take hours or a few days. According to one email expert I recently spoke with, segmenting can increase click-through rates up to 90 percent. It makes sense. It also decreases your chance to be perceived as a source of Spam if you are careful with the amount and quality of your messages.
Email marketing campaigns also provide the ability to do split testing on offers and rapid metrics to make decisions on changing the plan. ROI can be measured much more effectively.
Some distributors are even integrating their contact management with email marketing to find out more about the who and why of buying behavior. They can make better business decisions about their future marketing and segmentation based on this type of feedback.
What are you budgeting for direct mail and other marketing in 2009? Start investing in the build-out of your email marketing capabilities. Don’t just buy a bulk email service or program based on cost. This is about learning new marketing tools and implementing new business processes to gain efficiency in your marketing programs. Someone needs to drive this process by first understanding how your different customer segments are currently using email.
MDM will be providing resources and articles this year to help understand the issues in this developing field, from the federal Can-Spam Act that provides a national standard for emailing, to best practices in building email marketing campaigns. Remember when one of the core expertise areas (and for some dreaded annual ritual) of many distributors was creating and deploying thick paper catalogs? Marketing has been redefined in an age where we Google,” and I don’t have to explain what that stupid sounding word means.