How E-mail Marketing Can Play A Significant Role in Your PR Mix
By Kym Vance and Michael Elbrecht
As banks across the country increasingly look for measurable ways to attract and maintain customers or clients, all indicators point to online services to deliver the goods. One of the “oldest” forms of online advertising remains one of the most effective – e-mail marketing.
The advantages of using e-mail as a cost-effective communication channel are numerous, but the following uses represent the most widely held views of this medium:
• Immediate response mechanism,
• Customer acquisition tool,
• Customer relationship management tool, and
• Extreme flexibility to tweak a company’s message.
To put this message delivery mechanism in perspective, consider the following: consumers respond to one out of every 10 commercial e-mails they receive each day. These offers range from scheduling an oil change at one’s auto dealership to purchasing concert tickets for a band that sent out an announcement of an exclusive engagement.
To further validate this efficiency, for the quarter ended Aug. 31, 2005, 81 percent of survey respondents reported that they were likely to visit a direct retailer’s Web site after receiving an e-mail, compared to 78 percent who said they were likely to surf there after getting a catalog in the mail. Regardless of the offer, a message delivered via e-mail arrives quick and, most of the time, to a qualified responder.
When evaluating the cost of using e-mail, it’s important to compare its cost versus other direct marketing channels:
Average Message Costs (per message)
Telemarketing: $1 to $3
Direct Mail: 75 cents to $2
Email: 20 cents to 40 cents
Even with automated dialers and voice-activated systems, telemarketing remains a costly channel of communication. And when factoring in printing and ever-rising postage costs, traditional direct mail will never be considered “low-cost.”
There are several promotional opportunities to consider when sending out e-mails. Companies can stay in touch with customers to develop loyalty or reinforce the brand; “cross-sell” or "up-sell” customers after a recent purchase; educate and inform customers or vendors; extend an invitation to a seminar, conference, or special event; conduct a market research survey; or send press announcements out to the media.
Before committing to an e-mail program, there are several issues a bank must consider in order to communicate effectively and legally.
DEVELOPING THE MESSAGE OR OFFER
Just putting your bank’s name, logo, Web site and product or service listings aren’t enough. A bank must convey a reason to do business with their bank, not a competitor’s.
THE RESPONSE MECHANISM
How will the recipients of your offer reply? More often than not, a special link should be created to a specific “landing page” that will provide additional details of the offer, and provide a method of tracking response from the offer.
THE CAN SPAM ACT OF 2003
This FTC-created act was put in place to separate the legitimate e-marketers from the spammers. Although there is still debate as to its effectiveness, the overall consensus in the online world feels it has made a minimal impact on deliverability. As an e-marketer, a bank MUST read AND comply with provisions included.
CHOOSING A LIST SOURCE PARTNER
There are hundreds of e-mail list sources throughout the United States. Unfortunately, not all are reputable. More often than not, lists are provided through list brokers or ad agencies that specialize in direct marketing. Before renting any “third-party” lists, ask the provider the following questions:
• Where do the names come from?
• How did the individuals provide their addresses?
• Is the source Can Spam-compliant?
A bank has to be comfortable with the source of the names before committing to renting the addresses.
SELECTING THE TARGET AUDIENCE
The better e-mail lists offer several data segments, or “selects.” Among the more popular are demographics, lifestyles, purchase activity, interests/behavior and geography. Choosing too few segments will increase the size of the wasted universe that will never buy or respond. Choosing too many will limit the size of the available universe. Knowing the customer profile of one’s business, it may be advantageous to have a list profiled or modeled to find look-alike prospects.
Although most business-to-consumer marketers have preferred sending their messages Tuesday through Thursday, more and more have opted to deliver e-mails on Monday and Friday, since fewer e-mails have traditionally been delivered on those days. The Tuesday through Thursday window still remains the best time of delivery for B-to-B marketers, as employees seem to be at their busiest, or tend to take days off on Monday or Friday.
HOW WILL RESULTS BE TRACKED?
Will the success of the e-mail campaign be defined by increased sales of a certain product or overall business during a certain timeframe? Success in the e-mail world is defined most of the time by clicks to links placed within the body of the e-mail. This gives the e-marketer a sense of approval or rejection of the offer being sent. In some cases, toll-free numbers dedicated to the specific offer are included in the body of the e-mail as well.
After a campaign has been deployed, the e-marketer should be given a preliminary report within a few days after the last blast, and a final report a week later. Both reports should show the following:
• The number of e-mails ordered,
• The number of e-mails deployed,
• The number of e-mails delivered,
• The number of e-mails opened, and
• The number of times each live link was clicked.
As this article has indicated, e-mail marketing is a great one-to-one communications tool. But it is best used as a part of a larger marketing effort, be it a CRM or acquisition campaign. A true multi-channel campaign will deliver the same or similar offers through other media. However, due to its quick delivery and low cost, e-mail should always be part of a bank’s marketing mix.
Kym Vance is vice president of marketing services of V12 Group LLC in Red Bank. She has more than 14 years of experience in direct and database marketing, specializing in e-mail, data append and enhancements. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael Elbrecht is director of sales and marketing for V12 Group. He oversees direct marketing and database campaigns for clients that represent the financial, educational, franchise and business service industries. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.