You want to do what? Best practices in direct marketing e-mail campaigns

The HRmarketer Services Group has many marketing and PR capabilities and offerings, including a list rental program exclusively for HRmarketer members. The list includes over 60,000 current e-mail and postal addresses of opted-in HR decision makers throughout the U.S.

Our list pulls above average, but what kills me are questions like this:

“So, how many leads should I expect and will you guarantee it?”

Or, like this:

“So, if I want to test 200 subject lines to groups of 25 HR directors in financial services firms in the Midwest, can you do that by tomorrow? And if I don’t get any responses, do I have to pay for it?”

Are you frickin’ kidding me?

It’s frustrating because direct marketing e-mail is a powerful marketing tool and still one of the best ways to reach HR buyers – but, so many folks don’t understand DM best practices.

Per our latest eBook titled A Three-Step Guide to Achieve Increased Publicity, Web Site Traffic, Improved SEO – and More HR Sales Leads, direct marketing online, where every campaign can readily test a variable such as personalized content offers or different calls to action, continues to validate findings of the well-established direct mail industry that prospects respond better to personalized and highly relevant and contextual messages.

Remember, content is king (and queen). And repetition is also key as not every buyer is at the same purchasing stage. The key is to stay on their radar screen so when they are ready to buy, they think of you.

Fact: The open rate for “flat” print direct mail is on average 2.73%, and for e-mail it is 1.12%. Direct e-mails that offer a compelling content “offer” in the form of a free downloadable white paper or research report are significantly more likely to generate a response than promotional offers. Save the promotion offers for your print campaigns and for current customers.

We recommend seven key components to your direct email marketing campaigns:
  1. The list. There are many list sources you can buy targeted e-mails from. Wherever you get your lists, we suggest you send your campaigns to a list size of at least 5,000 people once per quarter. Expect to spend between $0.25 and $0.50 per e-mail.
  2. The offer. Direct e-mails that offer a compelling content “offer” in the form of a free downloadable white paper or research report are significantly more likely to generate a response than promotional offers. Save the promotional offers for your print campaigns and for current customers.
  3. The e-mail subject line. Keep it short. Study your own behavior when it comes to which e-mails you open. Tell what's inside, don't sell what's inside. If possible, test versions of your subject line to get an objective view of what actually works. But don’t overdue the testing!
  4. The HTML creative template. Your campaign creative should match your Web site identity and offer a single call-to-action. For example, don't offer a free white paper download and a demo. Also avoid words like "free" and other words that a spam filter may catch. Use rich text in the body of your e-mail, not an image file with text, so that your cursor can select and scroll across each word. Finally, to track your online campaigns, place a tag at the end of your referring links which identifies the campaign from which the visitor originated (e.g., “?source=campaignXYZ”).
  5. The landing page on your Web site. The branding should match your HTML creative that matches your overall ID on your Web site. Whatever appears on your landing page should reinforce the original call to action from the e-mail. The look, feel, and tone of the language should be congruent with the e-mail message. Images should reinforce the value of the offer.
  6. The lead acquisition form. Many CRM applications provide custom code to integrate the fields on a Web form to fields in the company CRM. Other form scripts can generate an e-mail. In choosing fields for the form, at a minimum, collect the prospect's e-mail and name. You may also request a company name. However, going beyond this will reduce the likelihood of a prospect completing the form. Web forms intended to qualify a lead will invariably reduce overall response. So choose your strategy accordingly. Add fields like title, industry and company size with the knowledge that requiring this information will cause some prospects to abandon the process. For some companies, this is a worthwhile trade-off and allows for lead scoring and prioritization of follow-up. Tip: engage your sales team in this decision. What qualifies as a lead should be a matter of agreement between those generating and those receiving leads.
  7. The lead. The best time to follow-up a Web lead is within 24 hours. A lot depends on the nature of your sales process, but the simple things like ensuring the sales team is ready to act on new leads are often missed. No form can replace the discovery and qualification process of a sales discussion and your sales team has a short window of opportunity to capitalize on the interest expressed by your prospects.
And yes, a little luck and timing always help, but no, you can’t embed a 100 MB video file in your e-mail campaign.


Posted by Kevin Grossman

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