Getting C-level support for your e-mail marketing efforts

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With so many marketing channels and campaigns to juggle, it’s no wonder e-mail programs are often at the bottom of a company’s marketing to-do list.

The good news: You can gain visibility and buy-in for your programs. The key, said Richard Merrick, managing director at Harte-Hanks Postfuture, and Lana McGilvray, VP-marketing at SKYLIST, is knowing how to catch your CMO’s—or CEO’s—attention. Merrick and McGilvray offer these tips for doing just that.

  1. Tie e-mail marketing to offline programs. You already know your CMO cares about campaigns and media outlets that require a considerable investment, Merrick said. If you can use e-mail marketing to make that investment pay off even more in the long run, you’ll also win support for your own endeavors. Some suggestions, he said, include offering coupons or rebates that support offline campaigns, embedding opt-in information in print or other online materials, and creating newsletters for specific advertising populations.
  2. Take things seriously. One of the main mistakes that marketing professionals made in the past, McGilvray said, was not treating e-mail as a legitimate medium. As any new graduate will tell you, you have to look the part to play the part. For e-mail marketers, that means putting together a written strategy that includes target audience, call to action, appeal and expected results, she said. "You have to be able to show your CMO a preciseness of what you’re trying to achieve," she said.
  3. Let e-mail support your service organization. You can build brand awareness and increase customer loyalty—the No. 1 reason people are using e-mail marketing today, according to research firm eMarketer—by carefully combining marketing messages with your transactional messages, Merrick said. "While transactional messages are functional, you can use them as a channel to cross- or up-sell after a purchase," he said. "This is tangible and measurable, which will get your CMO thinking about moving multichannel."
  4. Check the competition. The CMO will pay attention if you can show her or him that e-mail marketing is something everyone else is doing—and doing well, McGilvray said. To that end, do a competitive analysis before pitching a new campaign, she said. "Your report should include whom you’re going up against and how they are using e-mail marketing," she said. "Are they using e-mail newsletters? Are they advertising Webinars? Gather this data and use it in your presentation."
  5. Ask your CMO about his or her goals. You can get better buy-in if you’re addressing your CMO’s objectives and needs, Merrick said. Do something unusual. Sit down and ask about the overall marketing strategy. "Don’t go into it trying to sell your e-mail marketing strategy," he said. "Instead, tell them you’d like to learn more about the business and use that information to create a strategy derived from those goals."
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