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Email Marketing. Shotgun or Rifle Approach

Back in 2000 when email marketing was brand new, many took part in a technique known as the "spray and pray". It was kind of like using a shotgun at long range. Companies would buy a list of 15,000 emails and try and craft a message with a tantalizing offer and much like the Direct Mail techniques that preceded email campaigns, results would be around the 2% range for people that opened the mail.

It has since become apparent that the shotgun was the wrong tool and a rifle would yield much better results. Like a sniper, you hone in on the target and squeeze off one round at a time.

OK, the imagery isn't pretty, but the analogy holds true. And I am going to tell you how to be a sniper, but first I want to say a couple words about choosing an email marketing tool.

First, you need one if you are going to market online. The email tool will help you track your messages to your prospects and see how they respond. You can choose between tools like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Send Blaster or GoDaddy. Like anything, they will have different features and price points for you to compare.

I chose GoDaddy for two reasons. Price and Surveys. Generally the online price breaks come depending on the number of contacts in your database. You can send as many emails to your database as you like, but you pay more to have a 25k database than a 1k database. As a sniper, I don't need an arsenal to be successful, I need to aim.

I have found that the online or "cloud" or Software as a Service (SaaS) products all provide the full suite of options required to get the resulting reports I need regardless of the price I am paying, so I am able to work to full capabilities without needing to ``upgrade``.

I paid $74 and change for a years' service with GoDaddy and with that I am able to keep 1k contacts in my database. I can tell who opened my email, when they opened it, who forwarded it, to whom they forwarded it, what they clicked on and by extension what they did when they got to the link they clicked on.

I can run split emails where I change just a subject line or offer and see how the recipients respond. If they like it, I do more, if not I do less. It takes a bit of a hunter mentality to be successful, but this is no game.

In fact should you contravene the Law, you can be hit with some serious penalties. As an email marketer, the government has grouped you in with the Russian and Nigerian spam artists and your very livelihood is on the line should you run afoul of these draconian measures. (If you want to speak to me about ways to avoid pulling the pin on that particular armament, I'd be happy to take your call) Suffice it to say that appropriate email techniques do not involve buying lists or emailing people without express permission.

That brings us to our second point, Surveys.

It is a human failing that we cannot resist the opportunity to talk about ourselves and to provide our opinions on anything and everything to complete strangers (take this blog as a prime example). With the right positioning and controversial questioning you will be able to get a lot of people to open up about things you need to know about.

How long have you been in business?

Do you use more salt or pepper?

Are you planning and expansion this year?

Do you like the old Dr. Who or the new one?

Who does your online marketing?

And et cetera....

Surveys can provide you great insights about individuals and groups, and when someone signs a name to a survey, then they have just appeared in your scope and you can decide if you want to put them in the cross-hairs or not.

GoDaddy provided me with the survey tool at no extra charge and for me that was the kicker.

So here is how I am going to use my new email tool; to find clients.

First I decide on a narrative to hang my campaign on, a sale, or event or milestone.

Then I get my database of all the companies I want to target. Say, all the hairdressers in town.

Then I go to all their websites to find the most recent information on them I have and I update my database.

Then I call them (B2B calls are permitted) and tell them that I want to send an announcement of my sale/event/milestone to their business and ask, "Do I have the right information?"

After they help me locate the best person to speak to I thank them and move on to the second step. (Of course if they tell me to take a hike, I just make room for someone else in my database by eliminating them)

Following up is where the money is, so I send about 10 emails to one group of hairdressers and 10 emails to another with different offers and subject lines and landing pages* and using the reports from my email marketing tool, I see how each one fares.

What works gets kept what doesn't, gets jettisoned.

It is only about three clicks from my email message to filling out a form for my offer, so I am able to see who does what and who drops off when. Of course those that fill out my form for more information get the first call back, but after that I call those that balked at the last moment to ask why. I follow the trail all the way back until I get to those that didn't even open the email and ask them to check their spam filter.

Remember, I already called once to ask for the right party, so another call for checking the spam filter is only good manners. They were expecting my email.

At each one of those three click points, the reader is closer and closer to becoming a customer. Any message at any given point along that path must be crafted with that in mind. You speak to the person in a way that is dependent on where they are in the sales cycle. (And when you have made the sale you stop talking). Unless they are a customer, you continue to reach out in a manner appropriate to the position they hold in the sales funnel and move them along until the become a customer or they drop off.

Don't think that everybody is interested in what you have to say. ( I am surprised that you are still reading this blog) Your open rates will be quite low at first, but over time and with careful analytics you will become a better sniper and having done your A/B splits you will have message that is proven to work as you venture into new markets.

I hope this helps. Please leave your comments below. Even if it's only to say "Hi, Dan"

*Landing pages are very important and we will deal with them in a future post.

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