Email Marketing – Cheap AND Effective or just cheap?

Aberdeen Group recently published Recessionary Marketing: How Best-in-Class Companies are Weathering the Storm. The report compares companies to their peers and analyzes their specific marketing strategies and what best-in-class companies are doing to remain prosperous during this economic downturn.  They study analyzes channel marketing activities and how best-in-class companies are reallocating their budgets due to the downward economic shift. Email marketing is a major channel for most companies and based on Aberdeen research and other sources, it outperforms all other media in terms of ROI. The report shows that in light of the current economic conditions, 47% of best-in-class companies, compared to 26% of the laggards, have increased their marketing spend on email marketing.  Because email is a cheap way of getting your message out to thousands of your customers and prospects, it is ideal to use this medium when overall marketing budgets are cut.

However, if you are going to rely on email marketing as a medium for getting your message out there, it is important that your message is relevant, timely and actionable.  According to the study, a growing number of companies are looking at marketing triggers as a way to increase market effectiveness.  This is especially relevant when referring to email marketing and lead nurturing campaigns.  Knowing your customer's/prospect's marketing triggers can help you create the dynamic content for emails with relevant, timely and actionable messages.  Below I’ve listed a few of the marketing triggers from the study that are useful in developing effective email marketing campaigns and lead nurturing programs.

1. Online behavioral triggers: Site browsing behavior, search word phrases, landing page registrations and collateral downloads can tell you quite a bit about a customer’s/prospect’s wants and needs.  Email marketers can use these triggers to create dynamic content relevant to that customer’s/prospect’s actions that automatically is emailed to them at a specific time.  The email should encourage them to take another action.  The message sent is relevant, timely, actionable – Cheap AND Effective.

2. Expiration Triggers: Contracts, products, trials and promotions often have expiration dates.  Marketers can use these triggers to send automated emails based on the expiration dates.  For example, if a customer’s contract is about to expire, an email could be sent to them encouraging to renew by X date and receive a free Y upgrade.  An email campaign using these triggers could be helpful in retaining and upselling customers, as well as closing sales with prospects.

3. External Triggers: These triggers are tied to market conditions, competitive activity, seasonal changes, etc.  Marketers can create effective email campaigns and lead nurturing programs using these triggers as well.  Tracking trends and creating alerts for when customers or prospects are mentioned in the news could be used to create a relevant and pointed email message to that customer or prospect.

One thing to keep in mind is that in order for email marketing to truly be cheap, a system to automate this process must be put in place.  It is necessary to set up rules and triggers and create dynamic content based on those triggers that are automatically distributed.  While this will take time and resources on the front-end, it gives you a cost effective way to get your messages out over and over again.  Like many best-in-class companies have discovered, email produces the highest ROI of any marketing media, and is an especially useful medium in a recession.  If done correctly, not only is it cheap, it’s cheap AND effective.