We create and manage many direct marketing e-mail campaigns on behalf of many HR suppliers and HRmarketer.com (and very soon SeniorCareMarketer.com). We went into our list rental service this year with a lot of prior direct marketing experience and recommendations, and have learned a great deal more since. Marketing to over 70,000 HR pros and executive management while keeping up with the marketing Joneses out there doesn't hurt.
I'm going to share some of our latest best practices, but first consider that:
- According to a recent article in BtoB titled 4 predictions for e-mail marketing in 2009, e-mail marketing is going to become even more important than it's been, but companies are going to need to take e-mail relevance even further.
- According to our HR Buyer report series, buyers of HR products and services prefer initial supplier e-mail contact over phone calls and face-to-face selling.
- According to our latest HR Supplier marketing series survey (next report coming in early 2009), over 65% of respondents feel that e-mail marketing is the most important marketing and PR tactic out of a list of over 20 activities.
All right, chew on these Scoobie snacks. If you've got anything to add to the following, let me know.
- Less is more part 1. Keep your call-to-action singular and concise. Don't fill your campaign full of crappy long-winded jargon and too many choices for your prospects. They will pass out and never click through to where you really want them to go. If you're offering a research report download, then make that the main (and only) pitch.
- Less is more part 2. Take it easy on the HTML visuals. Don't fill your campaign full of images, especially large ones (file sizes), because they'll take forever to load (more than a few seconds is forever in e-mail marketing time), will get flagged as junk and/or will get caught in spam folders. And always include a text version in your campaign. Most e-mail marketing services require text versions along with your HTML.
- Less is more part 3. More and more business professionals are reading their e-mails on their Blackberrys and other PDA's – in text only. Always make sure your HTML images have anchor text relevant to your pitch. And read less is more parts 1 and 2.
- Nothing's for free. Don't use "free" ever in the copy or subject line. That'll hinder it reaching your prospects for sure. Complimentary is a much better word and safer to e-mail filters. And watch for other words and phrases as well. "As seen on The View" ain't gonna help you.
- Engage the lead punch. Keep your subject lines within 40-60 characters long and make them engaging with a clear call-to-action verbs – Download and Register for example.
- Content, content, content. We've said it before and we'll say it again – BtoB content offers like best practice white paper downloads and Webinar promos score higher on the lead-gen scale than heavily discounted products or pure play demo requests. In fact, we see click-thru rates double with content offers compared to pure play marketing campaigns. Give them something that will help them improve their businesses today, whether they buy anything thing from you or not.
- Open rates, schmopen rates. We don't put a lot of stock in open rates because of preview panes in e-mail programs and the fact that just because someone inadvertently opens your campaign doesn't mean anything. What means something for you is the click-thru – getting prospects to click and jump through a time portal and hit your landing page.
- Are we there yet? You succeeded in getting them to your website. Now you want to convert them into a warm lead. Converting that prospect into someone who will slide into your sales pipeline is contingent on whether they're interested once they hit your landing page. If you require registration, keep the required fields to a minimum; don't make them fill out a job application because they won't do it. Keep them on the landing page; don't make them click through to multiple pages to get what they came for, especially if you don't require registration and are just giving thought leadership away.
- Thank and reload. Make sure you're thanking your prospects and keeping them in your campaign loop. No matter the length of your sales cycle, you want your prospects immersed in your industry know-how.
One thing I didn't mention above is where you get your lists from, how you build your house list, and how targeted/segmented you should be getting with your campaign. The fact is, casting a wide net and seeing what you bring back is still a viable method, especially when you're giving content away. But what if you're targeting specific company size in specific industries with certain decision makers and influencers? How do you know which campaigns are more successful to those groups? How much detailed testing and tracking should you do?
We're going to become a much more targeted marketing shop next year with our own marketing and our clients. There are no truly successful one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns, not when you're journeying into the center of the earth with candles, a bag of granola and a canteen full of extra-sweet lime Kool Aid; 2009 and beyond will be a challenge.
We had the honor of having John Sumser stop by last week and talk with our group about the realities of global demographics, workforce populations and why niche marketing must be first priority for HR suppliers.
Bring your suits. Those lava tubes can really heat up.
Post by Kevin Grossman
Labels: e-mail marketing, HR suppliers, John Sumser, list rental program