Sunday, August 22, 2010

How important is it to be ‘closer’ to customers or prospects?

Recently I came across an amazing service called Flowtown. According to the company blurb "When all you have are email addresses, Flowtown can show you all the different social networks your customers are on including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace and more!" Services like these are taking the virtual world to next level. These are helping marketers and sales managers in connecting better with their prospects and customers.

The online world has seen a major change with virtual meetings, emails, voice chats, messengers and social media. The need for face-to-face meetings is considerably reducing. I have myself been part of teams operating from one part of the world and serving customer base worldwide.

However, on the other end, last year when the Harvard Business Review conducted a global study that included over 2000 businesses, over 95% of the respondents judged in-person meetings to be critical to building long-term business relationships.

So what are we seeing here? On one hand, there are success stories of people have not seen a human being for months and have still managed to acquire and retain customers while on the other hand, there are entrepreneurs, business owners still believe in need of face to face meetings.

So what does it depend on? Does it depend on your audience- Tech-savvy or no-tech-savvy? Does it depend on whether you are selling product or service? Does price or cost play a role?

I am keen to know your thoughts.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What is your email campaign objective?

Email marketing, being a more personalized and targeted marketing, helps you reach out to your niche audience in a better and more focused way. The cost-per- lead in email marketing is much lesser compared to the direct offline marketing.

But creating a successful email campaign is not as easy as it sounds. The key in successful email campaign is the content. I think one of the main reasons why email campaigns fail is because the objective of the campaign does not come out clearly. Obviously there are other factors like appeal of the campaign, lack of click-to-call actions, non-clarity of message etc but in this particular blog post, I am focusing on the ‘email campaign objective’.

Here is a quick list of various objectives which can be considered while designing an email campaign:

1. Building Awareness:

If you are launching a new product or service, you first need to create awareness about it and establish the identity. The focus of marketing needs to be in effectively reaching out the prospective users and providing relevant and accurate information about your product or service. Tell the market who you are and what you have to offer.

2. Creating Interest

Various researches on consumer buying behavior suggest that the buyers first need to recognize the need before they actively start looking out for products or services. Convincing the customer that the need exists is the key and the campaigns need to be designed considering the fact that the objective of the campaign is to first convince on the need before selling the product.

3. Providing Information or Educating the User:

Once the awareness is created and interest is generated, you need to help the customers in making informed decisions. You, being the expert in the field, need to provide the customers accurate information which will help them in making the right decision. In case of innovative products, you might need to educate them on the innovation and why the product exists. Whereas; in case your product which competes with other products in market, you may need to provide clear comparisons with competition products helping them in forming mental differentiation.

4. Motivating for Purchase

Right promotion can drive customers to make purchase. For this, in case of new products, one can offer free trial or sample. In case of established products, one can encourage sooner purchase by providing strong reason such as promotional offers or discounts.

5. Reinforcing the Brand:

Getting a new customer is five times harder than retaining an existing customer. Therefore, it is no surprise that successful marketers take special efforts in nurture existing customers. Keeping in touch with existing customers helps in building a strong relationship and the buyer moves from just a user to a loyal customer. Here, you can choose to keep in touch with your customers updated by letting them know about new products, new offers or even by offering discounts on future purchases.

Once the objective is clear, it is easy to design and appealing email campaign. And the best part is that you are not ‘surprised’ on the results because you know what to ‘expect’!