March 16, 2008

Profit Week: E-Mail Marketing

Might it be time to completely rethink the concept of e-mail marketing?

Think about this medium for a moment. We celebrate the outstanding ROI of a marketing medium that inspires one out of every seven hundred recipients to purchase something.

Seriously. We celebrate a 0.15% response rate. We celebrate a medium that only one in five individuals bother to even open. We celebrate best practices that improve e-mail response rates to 0.20%.

Maybe we should judge e-mail marketing on its ability to get a customer to visit a website, to "engage". Maybe the goal of e-mail marketing is to train customers to regularly visit our website.

If the purpose of e-mail marketing is to train a customer to interact with us, we would re-think e-mail marketing, wouldn't we? We wouldn't gouge our customer when the economy was good, then offer free shipping when we were desperate to generate sales, would we?

E-mail marketers might market the company blog, encouraging the loyal customer to interact with the brand.

E-mail marketers might educate a customer about how to use the products and services the brand offers, offering planting tips for the seed marketer as an example. The goal isn't to sell seeds ... the goal is to tell somebody how to be successful with the seeds they purchase.

E-mail marketers might share stories about the loyal employees who serve loyal customers.

E-mail marketers might share stories about loyal customers, helping loyal customers feel special. Instead of selling product, sell the loyal customers who buy merchandise.

The goal of e-mail marketing could be about making people feel special. This could generate word of mouth, generating sales with minimal incremental cost. This could also generate reasons for customers to visit your website.

Of course, all of these ideas could be worth garbage.

Conversely, one in seven hundred customers are buying what we have to sell today. What do we have to lose?