| Ray Parenteau – President |
Can you afford NOT to have a robust email program?
**This is Part 1 of a discussion on the growing importance of email, and how you can leverage outsourcing to achieve all that you aspire to from your customer communications.
Do you ever find yourself so far behind in your marketing commitments that some of them just don’t get done? Or maybe a key member of your team leaves, and you find yourself scrambling to learn what was happening with your email program. Or you need to quickly retrain a new team member on your email platform – in addition to your email strategy.
With marketing budgets continually squeezed – while new channels and competitive pressures consume ever more resources – email remains the reliable go-to channel to stay in touch with and cultivate your most important asset: your customer base. New channels are fun and exciting, but they come and go with trends, and tend to reach just fragments of your audience. Being (and staying) “where your customers are online” becomes an increasingly frantic quest.
I could list dozens of statistics that support email’s primary position and effectiveness in the marketing matrix. But you only need to know one key point: email is the only digital channel that reaches any one or all your customers, when you want and where you want. It’s a channel you own, rather than “rent” from third party providers, so you dictate – to a degree – when your customer sees your message. With other digital channels, you’re counting on a third party serving up a message that may reach some of your customers. In some marketing circles, this is known as the “spray and pray” approach. (Yes, there’s Visitor ID and retargeting, but that is still highly segmented and dependent on user action. Plus, the conversion process usually involves … email.)
Mixed-up Media Strategy
A perfect example of this mixed-up media strategy appeared on LinkedIn recently, when a bank posted that one of its ATMs would be unavailable during a weekend. The bank may have reached its entire base of 167 LinkedIn followers, some of which may be users of that ATM, or even actual bank customers. Although I don’t know if an email was also used, I’m certain that an email (or two) to a target group would have been a more effective (and appreciated) way to communicate this event.
Let’s assume that the bank did not send that targeted email. What’s the downside? Customers expecting to do business as usual were probably inconvenienced (although the bank did note that representatives would be on site.) They may have been annoyed; “Why didn’t they let us know in advance?” Some may have added it to a list of other, smaller grievances and decided to move on. Or, it could just be a non-event.
Not being able to get an important, targeted email out in time is all-too-common a challenge for time-strapped bank marketing departments. Most often, the inability to pull together a properly targeted list with reliable email addresses is the culprit. Or not having enough email address “density” to warrant the exercise. It can also be the lack of preparation – having ready-to-go templates and processes for certain types of events. Or the marketing team is too tied up with other projects to get to all the little details involved in putting together this relatively small communication.
In any case, it would count as a missed opportunity. Multiply that by one or more per month, and soon you have dozens of missed opportunities to connect directly with customers on matters that may have an impact on their banking relationship – with you!
Staying Timely and Relevant
Most of these situations can be avoided with some basic planning, and by having the right resources at the ready. First, a current, reliable, scrubbed email list, preferably with some profile fields that can be used for segmentation and targeting. This could include primary branch code, retail/business relationship, zip code, service usage array, and other relevant data fields. The ability to refresh and scrub that list on demand (within 24 hours) is also ideal. Second, having a library of tested templates to quickly deliver messages like fraud alerts, weather closings and operational notices makes it easy to follow a workflow and approval process that gets the message out in a timely manner.
Probably the most important factor in all this is having a reliable, knowledgeable email partner. While there are hundreds of do-it-yourself email providers in the market, the vast majority offer building blocks instead of true business solutions – especially as it relates to financial institutions. Likewise, your digital or branding agency may offer email as part of its services, but they may come up short when it comes to quick turnaround, data integration and more complex projects.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll dive into more specific examples and benefits of outsourcing your email marketing to a trusted partner, rather than a DIY service. Stay tuned or – if you have specific questions – give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org – or call direct at 877-807-2027 Ext 290.
P.S. – If you’ve read this far – you may want to take our Email Stress Test. It’s quick, (7 questions), fun and it’s anonymous (you don’t have to provide any personal information.) Check it out at: