In the social media age, connecting and engaging with customers is easier than ever, but don’t forget email as a critical way to reach out to them with circulars, focused offers and other information. But, if you don’t collect their email addresses it is a route to your customers that will be next to useless.
Tweets and Facebook posts might be great for sharing an image, or a spot of news, but well-crafted emails remain the infantry soldier of digital communications, doing all the grunt work while not getting much of the credit.
Email: The First Point of Contact
You should be collecting emails at first contact with any customer or prospect, either as part of a sign-up process or if not applicable to your business, then as part of a tempting offer – be it a discount or freebie. For business customers that can be an introductory offer or a useful white paper or piece of research, for consumers a juicy “xx% off your first purchase.” Consider it a key (inexpensive) cost of doing business, as your company can offer customers so much more via an email than you can through social media. If you’re looking to get started affordably, have a look at the top Mailchimp Alternatives.
If your contact form captures other useful information such as date of birth, their interest in your company (specific information like pets, car model, printer type, likes and dislikes, whatever is relevant to your business), you can use that send them time-sensitive information, with emails that have relevant headers and are less likely to be ignored or moved to the spam folder.
For most customers, email and email campaigns are not intrusive, but an accepted part of signing up. For most companies that they deal with, they are an accepted and expected part of business, do not be afraid to ask for their address. The trick is to use it and the other information they have provided in a positive, non-harassing (from the customer’s perspective) manner.
Every business should consider each email just as they would a letter, with the right tone of address. Relevant content and key messages should be placed up-front to capture reader interest, with additional benefits or deeper information encouraging them to read on. The benefit of email is you can embed calls to action at various points, making it easy for customers to respond in a variety of ways, something that is harder to do in traditional communications and social media.
Email in the Cross-Digital Era
Email remains a cost-effective marketing tool, able to reach a large audience or specific segments of your total audience with information that will be of value to them. Email offers a low cost, high ROI medium, and for business-to-business is a standard form of communication way beyond what Twitter or Messenger can offer. Email can be used to link to social media accounts, but not all customers will be on the various services you offer – email remains the constant that everyone uses. It can also be used to highlight your new mobile app or service as part of a digital cross-promotion or other efforts.
Also, email remains a very personal space for many customers. It enables one-on-one exchanges and businesses should encourage responses rather than “this is an automated account, please do not reply!” Encouraging people to get in touch for support or queries, to broaden a conversation can lead to deeper customer understanding.
Whatever your opinion or belief in the latest marketing and digital hype pieces, email remains the rock on which most communication is built. And, with most email services able to filter messages into different types, you need to make the effort to ensure yours is recognized as valuable to the reader. An email will remain the dominant form of digital communication, especially among business, for many years to come.
With many email automation tools, it remains a low-cost, increasingly sophisticated and customizable tool, just remember to get the personal aspects right to engage your audience.
Social media platforms may come and go, or fall out of favor but we will all be using email, even if the messages are directed to users’ smart device.