Email Marketing

Dreamforce 2009: The Secrets to Email Marketing Success: A Marketing Panel

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Secrets of Email Marketing Last Thursday at Dreamforce, I had the chance to attend The Secrets to Email Marketing Success: Marketing Panel. This panel session focused on how to get more from email marketing as well as discuss the latest trends and strategies in email marketing. The panel of experts included: Brian Vass, Sant Corporation; Robin Daniels, salesforce.com; Rasmus Mencke, salesforce.com; Wouter Hoeberechts, WorldMedAssist LLC; Paul Uppal, ActiveConversion. Here are my takeaways from the session:

5 Tips for email marketing best practices from Salesforce.com’s Robin Daniels:

  1. Targeted Lists – Segment your audience to get more out of your email campaigns.  Sending one generic email to everyone doesn’t work. You want to make it personal to them.
  2. Relevant and Fresh Content – Keeping your email exciting and on topic will increase the time prospects and customers spend with your email.
  3. Tracking & Reporting – Open rates and click-through rates are what Salesforce.com uses to measure success, but there are others that may be important too, like delivery success rates, conversions, unsubscribes and spam rates.
  4. Go Viral – Encourage sharing in your email. List your social sites and make the offer something that people will want to share with others.
  5. Permission is Key – Respect unsubscribes, have a clear policy and pay attention to local laws (CAN-SPAM).  Keep in mind, permission means the conversation is just starting.

Other helpful email nurturing tips from Brian Vass of Sant Corporation included:

  • Make it easy for sales to add someone to a nurturing campaigns
  • Content is King. Make sure email content is relevant yet succinct, personalized and without graphics.  Also, make sure there is a relevant call to action.
  • Alert sales of email and website activity so they can follow-up

Brian Vass also stressed the importance of a link between social media and email. His suggestions embraced these ideas:

  • Have a blog and social media presence. Be sure to link emails to these properties.
  • Use social media to drive opt-ins.
  • Ask customers to join groups and fan pages in order to encourage interaction with each other.

Wouter Hoeberechts from WorldMedAssist, a great user of email, was able to achieve a 2% conversion increase and a save 5 hours a week for their case managers by improving his email marketing and lead nurturing process. In addition to these accomplishments, he was able to:

  • Increase conversion lead to customer
  • Reduce time spent on unqualified leads
  • Enforce consistent messaging
  • Low implementation/maintenance cost

I would go one step further than the speakers suggested: I would add a field in Salesforce capturing the Twitter ID of each of your sales reps. This field could be used when populating emails with a sales rep’s information, not only sharing your company Twitter account, but their individual account.

During the panel an audience member asked about the viability of newsletters as core pieces of marketing programs.  While many of the panel members really liked newsletters as a way to let people know what your company is doing, I disagreed with their approach. I suggest you do a very basic test to see which work better for you:

  1. Create your normal newsletter and distribute it to half your list. (In this example, I’m going to assume you send it out every three weeks.)
  2. Create a different email for each of the critical pieces of your newsletter.  For example, if your newsletter announced a new webinar, an analyst story and a new white paper, create three emails instead of one newsletter. Distribute these pieces to the other half of your list (the list that did not receive the newsletter) as a weekly drip campaign, creating three emails that are sent to the same list for three weeks.
  3. At the end of the three weeks, add up all the people who viewed and clicked through the 3 piece drip campaign.  See if this number is higher than the number of people who opened and clicked through the newsletter.  If it is, this means that you get more out of sending separate emails.  If not, stick with newsletters as these are driving more traffic.

I liked that this session focused on the basics: making reminders of CAN-SPAM, email relevance and need for deep segmentation.  I also enjoyed the variety of presenters, each sharing their top tips and lessoned learned.  Also, Rasmus Menke, the Salesforce.com product manager responsible for email, was very insightful and helpful. He is certainly a great resource. I do wish there was more information on metrics and testing, but overall a great session.