Posted by Sandra Eisenberg
Since CRM (customer relationship management) is supposed to mean any one or any system that interacts with customers one would logically think that email marketing would be an integral part of any CRM solution.
But it isn’t.
Email marketing has been around as long as email itself has. Yet most companies who do email marketing for customer retention (up selling and cross selling) or acquisition (acquiring new customers) do so blindly using third party lists or hobbled together lists. Some may use Templates found on Microsoft’s template section of their website. Others use a variety of software or internet based solutions — and there same to be a plethora of them out there.
Most companies seem to use the axiom: throw enough mud on the wall and some of it is bound to stick when sending out corporate marketing emails.
No tracking of the ROI (return on investment). No knowing if you are “ticking off” your best customers. No knowing how many hit the SPAM filter. No knowing how many people get multiple emails from you (annoying them). Bad email marketing hurts every other aspect of CRM, and does more damage than good.
This is mass emailing. My friend, Sundeep Kapur (other wise known as the Email Yogi) has been an email marketing guru since around 1999 and he has outlined “Seven Stages of eMarketing” in a Whitepaper – available, with just a simple request. The first is exactly what I outlined above: mass marketing with the hope someone, somewhere will read it.
I don’t want to “give away” everything in Sundeep’s excellent paper, but suffice it to say that email CRM isn’t any different than CRM in general — know thy customer. You must target your existing customers and potential customers by market segment (customer segmentation), by demographics, by buying history, etc. None of this is rocket science, but it is all hard work — that results in qualified leads that generate new customers.
The more you can customize the email to the prospect the better. And if you can make it FUN even better still!
Customer segmentation allows you to target your email messaging.
Once you’ve created an email offer, newsletter, etc. it is a good idea to set up two separate tests with similar, but not identical, offers. The test audiences must be the same segmentation for this to work. Try to make an offer that requires a response (buy in) before the scroll down point (above 400 pixels in height) and if this is the first email one of those should be an opt in to get more emails from you.
Design the email using HTML and a plain text file. If you start getting fancy with CSS or flash — even Java — many email programs won’t read it properly.
Sundeep works for my old boss, NCR — a leader in retail and hospitality solutions. Software solutions vary based on your own corporate needs (and budget). RWD uses Constant Contact. The design of emails is pretty easy, but it isn’t your standard Windows “look and feel” so there is a learning curve and difficulty if you want to copy or paste from it into another program. They do offer a free 60 day trial, so if you are new to email marketing take a look at them and try them out.
More mid-range companies might look at Gold Lasso. The UI is also not the easiest to use, but they do have some analytics thrown into the mix. Also good in the mid-range and even enterprise (big) company range is Responsys. JupiterResearch awarded Responsys the highest combined score in “market suitability” and “overall business value” among all enterprise-oriented email service providers. It also ranked high with Forrester and Gartner (in a niche category). The Enterprise level also includes the market leader, Cheetahmail (now part of Experian).
Cheetahmail is the most entrenched, and it is very feature rich. The UI (user interface) suffers from some of the same issues as Constant Contact and Gold Lasso.
In a future blog I’d like to delve into how well email marketing soltuions tie into legacy systems (the back end CRM, ERP and industry specific apps which hold the wealth of customer data) — both from a push and pull perspective.