You probably already maintain a database of your customers and users, which you are able to e-mail with any updates or news. If you aren’t, you should start now: marketing to your existing customers is extremely important if you wish to maintain a low ‘cost per conversion’.
In this article, we will explore a number of ways that you can use your current e-mail list more effectively.
1. Get the ‘From’ and ‘Subject’ fields perfect
In most e-mail applications, the user will see two pieces of information before they open your e-mail: the ‘From’ field, and the ‘Subject’ field. Your ‘From’ field should be chosen for the e-mails purpose and, in any case, should reflect the e-mails true origin. If an e-mail is ‘machine generated’ (e.g. password reset, welcome or other automated e-mail), you should use your web-service name.
For e-mails actually written for a unique purpose by a real person, use that person’s name. This is recommended even if you are sending the e-mail to everybody. Including the web-service name in parentheses is a good idea.
Consider the following variations of a ‘From’ field:
I think you would agree that the “Steven Bradley (CodeRevolution)” variant is typically best as it makes it clear exactly who the message is from, and why it is being sent.
As for the ‘Subject’ line, include the recipient’s name and sum up the message as succinctly as possible — get rid of any fluff. Consider the following ‘Subject’ fields:
- CodeRevolution News
- New plugin launched today
- Steven: New plugin added to CodeRevolution’s plugin arsenal
The latter subject field makes it clear who the message is intended for (which I feel is important to be reiterated in the subject; knowing a person’s name is a good indication that an e-mail is not spam). It also makes it clear exactly what the e-mail is about (“changes”) and what is relates to (new plugin available for sale).
2. Profile, Target and Test
Suppose you have a list of 10,000 customers. It is probably true that your customers are not all interested in the same thing and may differ demographically. When using your e-mail list, targeting the right people is key.
The first stage is to profile your customers. If you simply have a database of e-mail addresses, with no related information, then you are missing out on the power of targeting focused groups of customers. You should relate your customer’s e-mail addresses with the following information, for example:
- What products have they purchased?
- How was the customer obtained? (e.g. on which web property, through which channel, etc).
- How long have they been a customer?
- When is the last time they interacted with your organisation?
- How much value do they have for your business? (e.g. the value of goods they have bought, etc).
- What is the customer’s gender and age? (Particularly important if you sell gender or age dependent goods).
The second stage is to choose a target. Look at the information you want to communicate and determine which groups of people will be most interested in the update. For example, if I wished to update people about CodeRevolution, I would send an e-mail to customers who have bought plugins from me, and got in touch recently.
The third stage is testing. See how responsive recipients are to your e-mails and related this to the additional information you hold about the customer. This is particularly important if you have a large list as there may be clear differences in the information people are interested in.
3. Limit your e-mails and maximise their potential
If you continually bombard your customers with e-mails, they are, in all likelihood, going to ignore them or flag them as spam. In no circumstances should you send the same information twice, simply to ‘squeeze’ out any additional conversions that may have been missing in the first round.
Make sure you set a reasonable minimum time between e-mails: I typically send no more than 1 e-mail per week. Make sure that the e-mails you do send are focused on one point and are relevant to all (or nearly all) of the recipients.