Fortunately, you obtained e-mail addresses for the vast majority of these new customers and secured their permission to notify them about â€śwhatâ€™s newâ€ť at your company. Beyond their e-mail address, name and maybe some sketchy preference data, you probably donâ€™t know much about them.
What to do? Do you drop their e-mail addresses into your database and start mailing them along with your more established customers? That may be your easiest option and what most e-mail marketers do, but itâ€™s not the best way to capitalize on the opportunity youâ€™ve created. While these new customers may have a favorable impression, thanks to your event, their relationship with your brand is tenuous and the wrong approach may impede many (maybe most) from making the transition to brand-loyal, profitable customers.
Instead, treat these new customers (and any others similarly acquired) as a separate list in your database. Communicate with them separately and customize your messaging to their unique situation. Your objective is to keep them engagedâ€”donâ€™t let the music stopâ€”so start by reinforcing their positive impression of your brand based on the event that drew them to you. Seek to establish a dialogue by providing a survey, offering information on related products or services, and requesting additional information about their preferences so you can better meet their needs.
In short, your actions should be geared toward initiating a value exchange with these new customers. Theyâ€™ll open their wallets and tell you more about themselves only to the extent that they see value (relevancy) in what you send them. So read your results carefully and be prepared to continually tune the tonality, content and frequency of your communications. Only transition them to your main database when they begin to exhibit the behaviors you associate with established customers.
Here are some pointers on key principles that will influence your success:
Welcome e-mail. A welcome e-mail is an obvious first step, but one thatâ€™s surprising overlooked by many e-mail marketers. Make sure this initial e-mail reinforces the event and your brand. Since your objective is engagement, use mechanisms that will prompt a response or click, such as a survey or informational offer. But donâ€™t push too hardâ€”you havenâ€™t offered much value at this point. Finally, make sure your welcome e-mail is timely: Get it into their hands while your event is still top-of-mind. Your welcome e-mail is your first step in not letting the music stop.
Follow-up e-mails. Your follow-up e-mails should build on what you said in the welcoming. Begin to segment your list and customize your follow-up communications based on who responds and what they respond to. Youâ€™ll want to â€śfast-trackâ€ť more responsive customers in promoting product and asking for preference data while taking a more deliberate, nurturing approach with others.
Opt-in permission. Itâ€™s terrific that youâ€™re starting with opt-in permission, but donâ€™t be naĂŻve about what permission is all about. Your opt-in permission simply affords you the opportunity to initiate a dialog with these customers. Whether you retain permission to continue that dialog will hinge on the relevancy of your content. Permission is never evergreen. Itâ€™s something you earn and re-earn every time you mail. In other words, permission is also the result of that ongoing value exchange with customers.
Consequently, youâ€™ll want to look hard at whether youâ€™re achieving the levels of engagement that will culminate in brand-loyal, profitable customer relationships. So be alert to when customers are rescinding their permission through their actions or inactions (unsubscribes, complaints, absence of opens/clicks) and adjust your communication strategies and tactics accordingly.
Yes, youâ€™ve chalked up a major win. Congratulations! Can you now convert it into a boon for your companyâ€™s bottom line? Absolutely. As a skilled direct marketer, e-mail is the perfect medium for you to use â€¦ and to keep the music going.
Dave Lewis is VP-market and product strategy at StrongMail Systems (www.strongmail.com), an e-mail infrastructure software provider.