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One Step Closer To The Future

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DQC Bureau
New Update

As vendors start thinking about direct marketing, it becomes imperative for partners to adopt new marketing strategies and build a loyal customer base. This will help them retain their customers, even when a range of products are available directly from vendors.

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With most vendors adopting the technique of e-mail marketing, it will not be long before they start retailing their products directly to end-users. There is every possibility that partners will be left out of the whole marketing process. It may not take place immediately. But, if and when that happens, it is bound to have an effect on the channel business. 

Also, what needs to be seen is the way customers react to such a marketing strategy. Since channel business is dependent on users, their response to e-mail marketing will determine its success or failure. It is very important that partners don’t treat customers as just some faceless entities. They need to build a one-to-one relationship with users.

A loyal customer base is what will help the channel tackle this issue. This was difficult and time-consuming till a year ago, when partners would have to call each and every customer over the phone. But not anymore, thanks to new web-based technologies available for mass customization of web pages and e-mail communications. If the basic principles of ‘Permission Marketing’ are carefully followed and if other people´s privacy is maintained, it would be easy to retain customers.

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GIVE ME MORE



The article ‘Back To The Future’ in the September 1-15 issue, carried a general overview of the mass e-mailing process.

Taking a closer look will reveal more details on e-mail marketing. The most important thing to be understood and remembered is the difference between advertising/direct mailing and e-mail marketing/permission marketing. Advertising/direct mailing of brochures and printed mailers is a one-way communication. Even though a response coupon can be included, it will only tell the time that readers have taken to fill that coupon and send it back. It does not reveal about how many readers read the coupon, but didn´t respond; how many read it and passed it on to their friends; and how many readers just ignored it.

There is no way to start a dialog with readers who responded, unless there’s further correspondence with them.

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With e-mail marketing, the first e-mail blast may be just a blind one, but the level of permission you get to communicate with the recipients can go on improving with subsequent e-mail blasts. The greatest advantage of permission-based marketing is that it is anticipated, personal and relevant. 

If the e-mail list is slowly converted to an opt-in list, partners will have all three advantages. Recipients will be looking forward to your communication, message can be mass customized or made relevant to each individual recipient.

TRACKING RESPONSES



Permission to communicate has to be handled carefully. One wrong step and the permission may be cancelled forever; there’s no second chance. After every e-mail blast, five most important responses from the recipients can be tracked.

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If any response coupon has been included, you can get the direct response from recipients who fill up that coupon. It could be a small questionnaire or just an opt-in request where the receivers click to confirm that they are interested in receiving future mailers.

People are generally not very much interested in filling up forms and coupons unless there is a substantial benefit in it. But you can still measure the response of how many recipients opened the e-mailer. There are many people who will not explicitly subscribe to your e-mail newsletter but they will continue to open and read it.

Then there are people who will open the mail and if they like it, forward it to their friends. However, they will never be ready to give you the list of their friends. They will keep forwarding these e-mailers to their friends.

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If an ‘Unsubscribe’ link has been included in the e-mail, some people will click on this link and tell you to stop sending them any more mails. That is the end of the partner-customer relation. This request must be honored and their names should be removed from your mailing list.

Some people will not open the mails; they will also not unsubscribe and just delete your mail or block your address. Partners have no way to know if their mails have been blocked or deleted. The best you can do is to hope they have deleted the mail and keep their address on your mail list. One day they may still open the mail, if they get interested in your subject line.

Lastly, partners may not get a response from the recipient but from the mail server–a bounced mail. E-mails can bounce for two reasons. The e-mail address is not valid or the recipient’s inbox is full. If the e-mail address is invalid, it should be corrected or deleted from your list. Bouncing addresses are just a waste of your Internet time and extra load on the server.

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CATEGORIZE YOUR RECIPIENTS



There are two very important groups of recipients here. First, recipients who read and forward your e-mailers to their friends.

And second, recipients who rarely open your e-mailers but never tell you to unsubscribe. This type of a receiver is called a ‘Lurker’. Partners must keep an eye on both of these.

The first type of recipient is your greatest friend. They may not explicitly subscribe to your newsletter or give you more e-mail addresses. Nevertheless, they help by spreading your message to their friends. Over a period of time, partners should observe these recipients and put them in a special group. You can start sending more focused communications about the subject of their interest. 

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However, do not write to them directly and thank them for forwarding your mails to their friends. That’s a breach of their privacy and they may immediately stop forwarding your mails to their friends. They may even unsubscribe from your newsletter in protest.

The second type is a Lurker, who is a potential reader. These receivers also must be observed to see if they open the mailer only when the subject line has a particular topic in it, if the mail blast goes on a particular day of the week or if there is any other typical pattern to it? These people can be converted into regular readers.

The success of your e-mail marketing effort depends on many factors. The first and most important is obviously to have a really relevant database and to convert the people in this database into regular readers of your e-mailers. The steps to convert them into regular readers and slowly into loyal customers will be covered in future articles.

ASHOK DONGRE is an IT consultant

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