This year I must …
Now that the stresses of Year End and the chaos of the office party season are over, and you’ve hopefully come back refreshed and revived after a restful break, Extravision team thoughts have turned to that final seasonal tradition – New Year Resolutions. Most of us admitted to having made, and broken, a few already.
As we all know resolutions are easy to make – and even easier to break - here’s our guide to some resolutions that really are worth keeping...
This year I resolve to:
1. Build a list…
If you don’t currently have an email list then building one is probably the single most important thing that you can do in 2005. Although it may sound like a daunting task it needn’t be...You’ll undoubtedly already have an in-house list of some sort – this is an asset you can’t afford to ignore and is the best place to start.
Although it may seem easier to buy in a list, in our experience in-house lists outperform brokered lists every time. The easiest way to grow the list and to add up–to-date email addresses is to run a telemarketing campaign. This also provides an excellent opportunity to gain permission to send information or newsletters. Other ways to grow a list quickly include:
- Offer a free newsletter or White Paper (content should be high quality editorial, not rehashed sales literature) and promote it on your website.
- Practice viral marketing
- Run a one off campaign to get addresses, for example a competition or time limited promotional discount
- Every time you make contact with a customer or prospect, ask for their email address – and make sure everyone within your company, from receptionist to Sales Director, does the same.
Once the list is built you will have an excellent tool for building customer relationships, as well as marketing new products or services to them (and no, the two activities aren’t one and the same). If you don’t do this already, then make it a priority for 2008 to put resources into growing and maintaining a list – it’ll be well worth the effort.
2. Plan email schedules in advance…
Although we all start the year with the best of intentions it’s easy to become bogged down in the day-to-day problems and crises that we will all inevitably face. Planning a schedule in advance is the best way to ensure that communications are not left to chance. Setting deadlines and topics will help emails to be delivered on a regular basis - this is vital, as sporadic emails are less likely to be opened.
Scheduling also enables you to plan an email marketing curriculum – a series of emails that gradually over time educate your customer about your product or service. Planning for the longer term will also help you avoid the trap of repeating the same old message.
Of course some flexibility will also be required over the course of the year. There are bound to be unexpected events that will affect the content of your mailings, but as a rule planning your mailings in advance makes the whole process much less painful and you are likely to achieve much better outcomes. In our experience newsletters produced on an ad-hoc basis rarely last more than a few editions.
3. Understand customers better…
Okay so this is a biggie – but better understanding of customers is the single best way to increase sales and improve your company’s prospects long term. It’s a certainty that it’s easier to sell to someone who already knows and trusts you; all too often though we take our customers for granted.
Talking to customers and listening to their problems and interests can only achieve better understanding. One of the best ways to do this is to keep in regular contact with them via a newsletter. The newsletter will need to offer real value if you are going to build a loyal customer base. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – what do they ‘need’ to read? Email newsletters are ideal for small, easily digestible chunks of information about your products and services, your website, your industry etc and they’re a great way of taking your prospects through your marketing curriculum.
Although they do take time to write and produce, email newsletters are cheaper to send out than traditional direct mail, and allow you to build up some intelligence about what your customers are really interested in by tracking their responses.
Publishing an e-newsletter won’t give you instant access to your customers’ thoughts, but over time they are an excellent way to promote better understanding of your company, and to achieve a better understanding of your customers.
Email newsletters aren’t for everyone but sending some sort of regular communication via email will benefit the vast majority of companies, no matter how large or small. The key to using email to develop better customer relations is to make it appear as if you are talking to them on a one-to-one basis. This can be achieved by a personal and chatty tone and content that is highly personalised. Start talking to your customers as individuals and you’ll develop a higher sense of trust and loyalty than you might have thought possible.
Sticking to these resolutions will ensure you’ll develop a proactive calendar of communications that are sent to the right people and that will be the basis for much improved customer relations. If 2005 starts as the year for promoting a better understanding of your customers you can be sure that it will end as a bumper year for sales opportunities.
If you would like more information please email us at sales [at] extravision [dot] com or call +44 (0)161 817 2929