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Your website and email

June 16, 2009

How many visitors return to your website after their first visit? How many recipients of your email campaigns really understand the full range of services you have to offer them?
Most companies these days have a website, and more and more are also using email to connect with customers and prospects. Few however, seem to successfully combine the two in a fully integrated strategy.

Integrated Internet Marketing is not just another fancy buzzword or passing fad but is the corner stone to developing a campaign that maximises the strengths of the Internet. Email and the web both have their strong points – and their weak ones. Combining the two enables marketers to take advantage of the strengths.

In this article we explore the ways in which an integrated Internet campaign can increase sales, improve customer service and build loyal customer relationships...
 

Both the web and email offer marketers in every sector the ability to develop powerful relationships with existing customers and seek new ones in a time and cost efficient manner. The ability to track responses also means campaigns can be better monitored and analysed and successes proven.

All too often though companies do not take full advantage of the strengths of the medium by combining web and email strategies to deliver fully integrated campaigns that deliver even more. 

Email and Web SWOT

Email is ideal for developing powerful one-to-one communications because of its potentially high levels of personalisation and content customisation. Response rates from personalised email campaigns are much higher than with traditional methods; however there is little room within an email to give lengthy product descriptions or list benefits and features.

You have a small window of opportunity to capture the customer’s attention and excite them but email is not the best forum for a lengthy sales spiel. For some sectors this is not an issue, but for others it means more information needs to be fed to a prospect over time.

This is where the website comes into its own. The web does present the opportunity to expand on an offer, giving the customer a wide variety of information that will help to make the sale. It is important however to bear in mind that 80% of all visitors to a website will visit once, never to return.

Driving traffic to a website is a cost and time effective business and although without a doubt email is the best way to draw visitors to your website; relying solely on a website to attract new prospects means that success can only ever be limited. By combining a web strategy with email however, a range of targets can be met.
Increased sales. 

As any sales person will tell you, the successful closing of a deal depends at least partly, on the momentum created by the sales person during the course of the selling process. In the b2b arena in particular, the process can be lengthy; and keeping the momentum going whilst building a sense of urgency requires a set of stages to be planned and executed.

Another feature of b2b sales is the complexity of the proposition. Integrating email with a sales orientated website can work towards building this momentum and can be an excellent way to deliver a complex curriculum over time. Every email should draw recipients to a specifically designed page on a website which answers any questions and details benefits.

Subsequent emails should create a sense of urgency and further educate the customer. Making it as easy as possible for the customer to commit to a purchase is vital – if the product or service is suitable for online purchasing then setting up a secure online payment section on the website is crucial. 

Improve Customer Service

Telephone customer support can be a costly and inefficient business. Combining an online customer section on your website with email back-up is much more cost/resource efficient. The key to good online customer service is making the information quick and easy to find. Keep in mind the 3 click rule – 75% of visitors will leave a website (and pick up the phone) within 3 clicks if they do not find the information they are looking for.

When it comes to questions submitted via email, speed is of the essence; responses should be sent within 24 hrs at the most and ideally within 2 hrs. Automated systems can be set up that not only ensure a rapid response but also take the burden off staff.

Ensure however, that your auto responder gives the recipient some valuable information other than a standard “Your request has been received” message. The message should make it clear that you appreciate what the request is about and if possible give a contact name and number. Email deluge however is best avoided by a comprehensive and easy to navigate website. 

Gain customer intelligence

Interactivity is the name of the game when it comes to the Internet. Your website should be used to encourage customers and prospects to offer contact information and details about their requirements. Initially it is best to ask for a minimal amount of personal information on your website.

A long questionnaire can be off-putting and deemed too intrusive. Further information can be gathered using email campaigns. There is little point in collecting information however if you are not going to use it. The best use of customer data is not in mass campaigns with general offers but rather to tailor offers to smaller customer groups with specific interests.

Data should be used to make these offers personal and to send them via highly personalised email messages that appear to be sent from an individual, such as an account manager, to a customer whose needs have been clearly identified. 

Build relationships

Using such personalisation techniques is the best way to build customer relationships. Building a strong and loyal customer base in person can be time consuming and difficult to achieve. Doing so via email and your website is often much easier to do.

Email in particular is a naturally personal medium. Formal messages are much less well received and usually deemed more intrusive than a personal, chatty note. Data driven website content means that an even higher level of personalisation is possible and can ensure that your customer’s online experience always has that feel good factor. Making the customers feel like individuals and using the intelligence you have garnered wisely really can help to keep them close. 

Summary

Email and the web work best when used together. Whatever business objectives you are striving to achieve an Integrated Internet strategy will undoubtedly be the most cost effective method and will achieve the greatest success rates.

If you would like further information please email [email protected] or call 0161 817 2929

Posted by Paul Latham
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