Following on from ‘How to maximise your email marketing’ which I published last year, I came across an article recently I had written around ten years ago. It was all about direct marketing and how to get the most from it. What struck me was just how little has changed. Ok, so we now longer ‘sell from the envelope’ nor, thankfully do we receive an eye-watering bill from the printers and the Royal Mail (may they both rest in digital peace). But on re-reading it I realised that so much of what was true then is just as valid now. We may not be communicating via the letterbox but the rules on how to engage, persuade and convert through the in-box are really no different.
So, here they are – with a 2015 spin – the ten golden rules of direct marketing for the electronic age (eDM).
Before starting a campaign do some sums. First establish a profit target, then work out the margin per sale. Dividing the latter into the former will establish the number of sales you will need to make. As the average percentage success rate from mailings is around 1% you can determine the number records you will need to mail.
Your database is the life-blood of your business – when you come to sell it (as one day you might hope to) the first questions a buyer is going to ask is who are you selling to, how much do they spend and how often do they buy? If you database isn’t squeaky clean you going lose a lot of value.
Make sure your data is up to date and opted-in. Using a broadcaster like Mailchimp is an excellent way of ensuring you are all data compliant and your records only consist of people who really want to hear from you.
Imagine you’re standing in front of a prospect and you’re holding three tennis balls. Throw all three and they’ll probably drop them all, throw two and they might catch one, throw just one and they’ll catch it.
Keep you message singular, focused and, if you can, based around a killer offer.
The rule of good copy writing is that you can never be too long you can only be too boring. Write a lot of copy first then edit it so that it engages, amazes, amuses persuades and converts. The key is to generate desire – people don’t buy because they need things, they buy them because they want them. Give as much information as you can, inform their decision, pack in the ‘reasons why’ they should have your product – just get them salivating.
Every second that passes from the moment the reader receives your mail reduces the likelihood that they will buy. You’ve probably seen the Expedia trick ‘Only 1 room left at this price’. Kind of makes you itchy ‘buy button’ fingered doesn’t it?
Always drive a stampede by time-limiting your offer or reducing the number units.
Be totally reckless with the ways that you offer people to purchase your product. Think how many times you’ve walked out of a shop recently (actually usually a small, independent café with Monmouth coffee) because of a badly written cardboard sign that says in biro: ‘Sorry, cash only’. Take credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, apple pay, digital wallets, EVM cards, contactless, cash and yes, why not, a cheque – you never know someone from 1988 might be wanting to buy something.
Never under estimate the value of ‘FREE’ and keep in mind the ‘lifetime value’ rule. Lifetime value rule? Ok – this is all about that old cliché customers not sales. Whatever you give away needs to be chalked up as a cost of sale but as the cost of acquiring a customer. Why does a lovely shiny voucher with £50 of free wine always drop out of your credit card statement? It’s because the seller does this kind of sum:
The ultimate question we ask before buying something is: ‘Do I trust this product, service or person to deliver what they say they will deliver?’ Face to face you can usually answer this question for them by demonstrating the product or getting them to test it. With eDM you don’t have this luxury. The fact is, whatever you claim for your product, if the prospect does not trust it, they won’t buy it.
Answer: Give it to them to try – at YOUR risk. It’s usually at this point that the FD falls off his chair. Sending out thousands of pounds worth of goods without a closed deal may sound crazy, but show me a successful direct mailing that doesn’t use this technique. Food manufacturers do it – even if you’ve eaten it, clothing manufacturers do it – even if you’ve washed it. Sure, there’ll be a couple of clowns who will try it on but this as nothing to the huge increase in sales that will accrue from turning the risk round.
In the highly competitive market environment in which we all strive to make a profit it’s what happens at the margins that can really make a difference. By offering a complementary product at a heavy discount at ‘check out’ you can add significantly to your returns. Even if you only make £1, pounds add up and there’s the additional benefit of leaving the customer with a sense that you have done them a favour. It’s these kind of customers who come back for more.
10. Test, evaluate and re-broadcast
No mailing ever scored a perfect ten from the first iteration – it’s absolutely essential that you analyse the results of your mailings to see what sold and to whom, only then can you know what works, and crucially what doesn’t. Email broadcast services such as mailchimp allow you to AB testing which will enable you do things such as send the same email to different segments of your list with a different headline. Eventually, with a little tweaking, you will find the sweet spot.
We have found that, on the whole, three broadcasts per campaign is the most effective but it does depend on what you are selling – this is what test and evaluation is all about.
If you would like help in creating a really powerful and
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