The mandate to integrate

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Last fall, when DATA Inc., an IT solutions provider, introduced a new global project management tool, the company marketed the product using a combination of a webinar, direct mail, social networking, telemarketing and e-mail marketing. The company designed the webinar to explain what the new tool does and publicized it using direct mail, telemarketing and e-mail marketing. If an e-mail came back undeliverable, DATA used LinkedIn to reconnect with the contact. DATA hasn't always integrated its marketing efforts so thoroughly, but when George Nikanorov, the company's head of marketing, took over his current position, he began preaching integrated marketing strategies and developed a strategy to match. Nikanorov was pleased with the outcome: The webinar was attended by about 3% of the 600 people who were marketed to, he said. “Overall, it was a success,” Nikanorov said. “At the end of the day, even if they didn't come to the webinar, we were constantly in front of them,” he said. Experts agree. “If you don't integrate e-mail with other channels, you're going to lose customers and lose money,” said Julie Katz, an analyst with Forrester Research. Here are eight tips to help you get started managing your own integrated e-mail marketing program: Start at the beginning. A campaign will work better if you plan from the beginning to make it multichannel. When you decide on an integrated strategy after the initial planning work has been done, you lose out on economies of scale, said Scott Million, VP-business development for LeapFrog Interactive. “Depending on how many different [venues are used], you're looking at 10% savings if you've got two pieces of creative. If you're going to have three—say a banner, e-mail and a microsite—you're looking at a 20% savings.” Bring all involved parties together. Your media planner or advertising agency may not see e-mail as a key advertising channel. It's up to you to let them know that it is-and that leaving it out of the overall planning cycle is their first and biggest mistake, said Loren T. McDonald, VP-industry relations at Silverpop, a provider of e-mail marketing solutions. Use common logos and messaging across the board, including off-line efforts. The call to action should also carry through from one medium to the next, so if you offer something in your e-mail newsletter, make sure that exact offer is visible when people get to your landing page, white paper or microsite, said Ian Wolfman, partner and senior VP of digital agency imc2. Use company-specific words and phrases. It's important not only to use industry terminology but also company-specific terminology in search, on your Web site and in display ads. Yet many marketers ignore this when writing e-mail copy. They don't apply their strategy to their newsletters, said Joel Book, director of e-marketing education for ExactTarget, a provider of e-mail marketing software. “[Using] SEO—and specifically organic search—to attract potential e-mail subscribers to your Web site is one of the most cost-effective things b-to-b marketers can do to build their subscriber data-bases and expand the reach of their e-mail communications,” he said. Use your site's search function to help target messaging. If someone logs on and searches for a specific product, you're missing out if you don't use that information to target messaging, Katz said. If you're not already doing similar triggering based on integration with your CRM system, you should be, Katz said. Use e-mail to nurture paid search prospects. If you click through on most paid search ads, you'll find plenty of product information, but what you may not find is an opt-in option, McDonald said. “The average paid search conversion rate is 2% to 4%. If you're spending $100,000 on Google AdWords, the value of e-mail becomes, "What do we do with the other 96 or 98 people?' It doesn't take away from the main conversion goal, but an e-mail opt-in can become a very strong secondary call to action,” he said. If you get them to opt in, your ROI goes up when—several months or even several years out—a few more of those people convert to purchasers, he said. Make integrated buys, but save for last-minute deals as well. If you're renting or sponsoring an e-mail list, you can boost your effectiveness by buying display ads on the company's or network's Web sites, LeapFrog Interactive's Million said. “If users have seen your display ads, they are more likely to recognize your company and click through in the e-mail,” he said. “It helps with brand awareness.” You may also save money since many publishers and networks offer bundled discounts when making such a purchase, he said. Use mobile marketing to capture e-mail addresses. Texting has overtaken calling on mobile phones according to Nielsen Mobile, a service of Nielsen Co. With so many people texting, it's a good idea to use offline media such as billboards, print and television to encourage prospects to text their opt-in to your e-mail marketing program, said Jeanniey Mullen, the founder of the E-mail Experience Council. “I'm a huge fan of asking for e-mail addresses wherever you can—at the trade show, on your last PowerPoint slide,” she said. “When someone gives you their address, they are saying, "I want to do business with you.' "' Originally published Jan. 19, 2009
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