February 7, 2010

Welcome to eMail Week

Welcome to e-mail week. In my titles I will write eMail as I think this looks a bit cooler than e-mail and it is a way for me to write e-mail 2.0 but in another way. lol… THIS is e-mail week on jesperastrom.com and I will use this week to write five posts with some methods on how to use e-mail on the modern web. I will combine each post with either SEO, social media or conversion utilities. We will cover win-back campaigns, link building and most importantly the intersection between marketing and dialogue.

[If you are an e-mail provider out there you should make contact with me cause I want to video review your e-mail tool and put up some evil (meaning effective) e-mail campaigns that you might not have thought about yourself. Contact me through one of the social networks available from the buttons top right on this page or from the about page.]

How to Use e-mail on the Modern Web in general

This post will mention 2 effective ways to use e-mail on the modern web. You have seen your opening rates drop the past few years and you’re starting to question e-mail as a means for your communication. What you really should do is to start questioning yourself. E-mail is by far the most popular activity online, even surpassing search. The problem is not that e-mail has become bad, it is that YOU who have become worse.

One of the truths from Jim Collins book “Good to Great” is that you have to realize that you pretty much suck right now (but in other words :)). So do it. Say out loud!! “I am bad at sending e-mail, that’s why my e-mail opening rates have gone down. It is not e-mails fault, it is mine.”

Now … we can start! Here we go e-mail week!! (and with that build up, I have 2 extremely simple things to tell you.. hehe..)

1. Notifications and Updates

Facebook wasn’t first to employ this kind of e-mail tactic, but they sure as hell took it to another level. The whole evolution of updates of notifications have really proven one thing. If the e-mail is about the receiver, the receiver is highly likely to open it. It is as simple as that. If you’re running a modern e-mail campaign you really need a reason to contact the person you are sending the e-mail to.

Personalization with regards to “custom hello phrase” and “custom introductory text” is not enough. You need to really personalize an e-mail and to do so you need to employ dynamic content. This content can be fetched from some typ of xml file or database table, and it has to be one piece of information that the user has requested updates on.

The relationship always have to be an opt-in. If you’re working with travel, an update can be when travel costs to a certain location has reached a certain prize level. If you’re working with diapers your users might want updates on safety, offers or simply just a “caring advice” from another user. If you are working with electronics then your users might want add-on updates. There are a million updates to choose between, you just have to offer the kind your audience like.

Notifications can also be based upon actions in e-mails. Ie. if a user clicks a link, then the user is tagged with a certain type of content. When you create a newsletter for the future, you create several types of content. The way the content is displayed to the individual recipient is then based upon what kind of stories they have clicked in previous e-mails.

Also, win-back campaigns are extremely effective and based upon the principle of notifications. I will cover win-back campaings in a separate post that will probably go public on Thursday. What you do is that you place a user into a campaign based on the time they open the e-mail, what links they click and what they do on your website.

2. Direct 1-to-1 contacts

Wow, revolutionary right? Not really, but many of you out there are stuck in the mass e-mail campaigns where you rely on your list growth rate rather than your retention rate as your KPI. This is awfully wrong. What you should do is to identify your most important people, the 1-5% that share all your stories, that contribute to your content and who get people to think about what you do. Those people should be communicated to on a personal basis. Not a private basis, but on a personal one…  big difference in those two words.

If you can identify ring/tribal leaders, you’ll be very effective in reaching out to large quantities of people through the people that they listen to. I will do a recap on one of my lectures I held at eMetrics about 6 months ago where I combine social media and e-mail. Together with my co-worker Simon, we’ll dig into how you set up a system to identify your tribal leaders through Google Analytics.

One of the most common questions I get when talking about this is “doesn’t this require a lot of time and resources”. My response is that it doesn’t cost you more than one banner placement on a major website if you are a big company. The effect however is more than a million to that of the banner. So you choose.. either you can work with crappy ways of marketing, or you can work with good ways of communicating. Your choice.

As I said earlier in this blog post, it is not e-mail that sucks, it is you and the way you work with your e-mail.

What will eMail week lead to?

Right now you’re asking yourself; “well, yeah, we’ve heard this before, but HOW do we do this?” Well, that’s what e-mail week is for!! Primarily it will give you some tools to become better at what you do, with regards to e-mail campaigns and member databases. Also I will try to help you improve your work in social media as well as SEO, with the use of e-mail.

As always, I will write what I believe is the best way to do something. If you have a valid objection or idea, I am never late on agreeing and giving link love where it counts.

Please take some time to discuss with me. Also, if you want me to show you something specific or write about something in particular during e-mail week, then please don’t think twice about commenting or sending me an e-mail to jesper dot joakim dot astrom at gmail dot com.

//Jesper

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