Espial connects with e-mail recipients by tweaking frequency, cadence

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How important is e-mail frequency and cadence? It can be very important, something Kirk Edwardson, director of marketing for on-demand digital television technology provider Espial Group, found out earlier this year.

Espial, which sells its software to cable operators, telco IPTV (Internet protocol television) operators, hospitality operators and consumer electronics manufacturers worldwide, has an e-mail house list of more than 20,000 qualified leads, comprising prospects, customers, analysts and journalists. Until the end of 2009, Edwardson sent out e-mails infrequently, usually in support of a new product or update.

This past January, however, he decided to increase the frequency of the company’s e-mail while at the same time implementing a regular schedule. Edwardson decided to send out a quarterly e-mail newsletter via e-mail provider JangoMail, but he also committed to e-mailing everyone on the list at least once every four to eight weeks as a way to keep customers and prospects engaged through Espial’s very long sales cycle. E-mail, Edwardson said, became a key tactic in the overall electronic communications strategy.

“What we do is use e-mail to point to white papers, product information, stories that have been written about the company, big news such as a new partner and events—either those we are sponsoring or attending,” Edwardson said. The news, he said, is cohesive and supports a point or theme. For example, if the company is appearing at the IPTV World Forum in London, the newsletter that goes out around that time will describe the demos Espial will put on, white papers that relate to the product being demoed and other issues that are “topical to the event,” he said.

Edwardson also started to think about the information he was sending out as part of a content lifecycle. “You write a white paper. You write a press release about it. You put it out on Twitter. You put it on the website. You blog about it,” he said. “You have to think about how you can use that content over and over, and e-mail is definitely part of that life cycle.”

The increased number of e-mail touches, Edwardson said, is creating more—and deeper—engagements. The most visible byproduct is what he called a “big increase” in white paper downloads. The company’s traffic, he added, is also picking up by a few percentage points of growth per month, since all newsletter and e-mail content is posted to the website.

“It’s really helping us with Google indexing,” he said. “It’s helping with our organic Google rankings because we’re putting up new and relevant content on a regular basis. On certain keywords we’re typically top 10 in the rankings.”

Another important benefit is lead generation. “Sending out more e-mail has improved our contacts or leads by a factor of five or six,” he said.

Because he was able to show these strong results to the executive team, Edwardson was able to hire an additional marketing person to work halftime, freeing Edwardson up to do more tactical marketing work. “We’re getting the right content out there; people are coming to the website and filling out our form. At the end of the day, marketing is converting interest into opportunities. I become the good guy by delivering good leads to sales.”

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