How to Build Long Term Relationships with Your Customers

A primary job of marketers is to engage with clients personally.  Regardless of what medium they use to communicate, it’s all about presenting relatable information which resonates with the reader and building a relationship.

One of the benefits of email marketing is the ability to prepare and send a message that translates like a one-on-one conversation with the reader.  You spend the time getting to know your prospects and what they respond to, now it’s time to grow that relationship through personalization in the hopes it flourishes.

Although you may have produced campaigns that were historically successful, as your prospects are inundated with emails from other sources using the same channel, you may see your returns diminish over time, endangering those relationships you worked hard to build.  So how do you maintain that level of interest with your readers and continue building upon the relationship?

Fortunately, there is software and other technologies that allow you to evolve your marketing into multiple channels while personalizing your emails in a way that builds your brand, while also strengthening the relationship you have with your clients.

Using Data Effectively

One of the challenges that marketers face is how to develop a personal relationship with potential clients you may not know very well.  That’s where data comes in to play, providing insight into your prospects’ business habits, their buying preferences, their response to certain types of emails or ads all can help you tailor relevant content that will help build upon that initial introduction. Based on how your potential client pool interacts with the media they consume, marketers are now able to have a better understanding of the clients’ wants and needs, and how to provide that to them.

Automation presents a solution for using data insights to bolster the personalization of your email messages by targeting prospective clients with appropriate content that you can then send to the respective demographic.  You can adjust the automation of your email campaign to include asking the right questions, such as about the desires or requirements of the business.  Listening to your clients and prospective clients is equally important as speaking to them.  Using data gathered from your existing client base, and by following the behavior of your prospects, you’ll gain insight into how to better engage with more potential clients on a personal level.

Nourishing the Relationship

Automation and data gathering techniques, used together, can provide a powerful insight into how to deliver more personalized content to your prospects.  Automation can help you connect to potential customers by triggering automated responses when a visitor interacts with your site, sending out welcome messages to make your potential customers feel valued, or by sending personalized emails that ask about the wants and desires of potential prospects. 

These personalized touches demonstrate to your clients, and prospective clients, that you are dedicated to providing a personalized experience and are invested in their business needs. The best part is that you are fostering and growing this relationship through the help of automation, making this aspect of your job as a marketer just a little easier.

Statistics show that when customers are nurtured with personalized emails, more than 75% of marketers saw an increase in conversions.  With numbers like these as proof, there is no wonder why personalization of messages are priority number one for most email campaigns.

However promising, personalization is only one piece of the puzzle.  Just as is true in your personal life, to build a strong relationship you need trust.  Without it, there will not be a stable foundation for the relationship to grow. To see any business relationship to its’ full potential, it’s imperative to build on that established trust by maintaining clear communication and staying faithful to your promises, by providing reliable and reputable products and services. 

By listening to your clients’ needs and gleaning insight from their preferences, you are able use that data, in conjunction with automation, to deliver personal and relevant information which your prospects will respect.  When you gain their respect, you will improve your chances of building a strong and lasting relationship.

Which works better for Email Campaigns, HTML or Plain Text?

What happens when you create a mass email message, spend precious time editing and reviewing the copy, send it out, and you end up with a poor response rate?  What’s worse is you can’t even quantify how many people read it or even opened it.  The mere thought of this scenario is stomach-churning for most email marketers.

As an email marketer, you focus much of your time on content.  However, what about the appearance of that content?  Marketers generally send out HTML-based email campaigns.  An email in HTML is visually appealing, easily digested by the audience, allows you to promote your brand, and has the ability to tuck hyperlinks into graphic hot-spots.  But, is it effective?

Is it possible that plain text emails can provide the same performance as HTML formatted messages?  Many email marketers have discussed this conundrum, and even professionals are unsure which format generates more leads and better conversion rates.

Consider the Purpose Your Email Serves

Your marketing emails are much more than just a welcoming greeting; they are essentially landing pages for your business.  All the elements of a landing page – banner graphics & images, visual cues, a call to action and hyperlink, and a fillable form can be included in a well-crafted HTML-based email message.

An interactive, visually appealing email provides all the benefits of a good marketing website, however, they can also hinder the ability of a reader to cut through the fluff and get to the essential part – a call-to-action link.  So, if you feel you’re losing out on click-throughs by muddying the water with graphics and visual aids, consider changing it up with a plain text message.

Plain Text Successes

Unlike its HTML counterpart, which is rich in visually appealing and interactive elements, a plain text email is merely portions of text that fill the body of the email message.  There’s not much in the way of formatting, and there are no images, CTA buttons, or inviting banners, yet, some studies have shown that plain text messages have higher click-through percentages than HTML-formatted content.

Think about it.  You have probably personally experienced both ends of the spectrum in your inbox.  Which do you think you respond to better when seeing an obvious advertising email?  Sure, an HTML email looks good, but does it immediately entice you to sift through the content?

Statistics show that deliverability of plain text emails is exceptionally high.  Even if the content is boring or poorly written, the fact that it reaches its intended recipient is crucial.  Without images, links, banners, and legal disclaimers subsets, it’s unlikely to get flagged as spam.  Also, deliverability typically goes hand-in-hand with open rates, and studies show this is particularly true with plain text emails.

Another positive for plain text in today’s marketing world is the ability of the message to be displayed on smartwatches.  Even though the contingent of smartwatch wearers that read email on their devices is small by comparison to smartphones, it is still a significant fact that delivery to watches is a benefit, and will become more so in the near future.

Also, plain text messages have the ability to present more of a “touchy-feely”, one-on-one conversation.  Of course, large corporations don’t need or want this feeling, but smaller companies can capitalize on its ability to engage on a more personal level.

Choosing the Right Format

The question of what format is better isn’t an “either-or” proposition.  Email messages are terrific for brand-building, and you should not feel hogtied to one format or another.  You can use each to deliver relatable content to both your base and potential customers.  Subscribers are too busy to pay attention to how you market yourself; it’s usually the content that counts.  Using both formats allows you to reach more potential business, while also engaging your readers.

Amongst marketing professionals there is still no firm consensus on which format is better, but you can rely on internal metrics to measure and calculate the benefit on an individual basis.  Work with both formats, drop several campaigns with each and see for yourself which gets you a response, and which drives you towards your business goals the most effectively.

How to Control Rising Unsubscribe Rates

So, you think your email marketing campaign is going well, and then you notice something: unsubscribe requests start appearing in your inbox. The first thing that you tell yourself is that everyone loses subscribers – it’s nothing to worry about. However, what do you do when those unsubscribe numbers start to pile up and affect your delivery rate?

Well, first, don’t ignore it, and don’t blow it off as an acceptable loss. Unsubscribe requests can not only affect your ability to reach potential customers, but it can have a negative financial impact on your business.

If you catch it in time, you can fix the problem before it becomes systemic. Ask yourself: why are so many recipients of my emails choosing to hit the unsubscribe button? Checking the trends of opt-out requests can generally provide a good indicator of a consistent issue or help determine if it is merely stemming from a faulty message structure.

Let’s identify some trouble areas and learn how to fix them.

Segmenting Messages to Stem the Tide of Unsubscribers

If you continue to lose subscribers, it may be because you aren’t relating to your audience. Studies show that 50% of the time, consumers unsubscribe because they feel an email is irrelevant. It could be that your message sounds off or that it is too far removed from your business, but you should never send out messages that don’t relate to your customers.

Keeping an audience engaged is a challenging endeavor, but ensuring your messaging is directed towards the needs and desires of your audience is crucial.  Learning to segment your email list can help better tailor email messages that are relevant or interesting for the reader. Then, using real-time metrics, you can monitor the engagement and spending of your clients in response to your email campaign.

Segmenting messages is more than just dividing campaigns between age and demographics. You can drill down into customer engagement, retention, their type of business, the industry or market they operate in, and the clientele with which they interact.  This segmentation will allow you to prepare and send content relatable to their staff and tailor emails around specific areas of interest.

Personalize Every Message

You’ve already spent the time dissecting data to better segment your marketing campaign, now use that same customer data to personalize each email you send out. Research shows that people overwhelmingly respond positively to personalized emails. You can’t be sure they’ll read every word, but the chance that they will open and view your message increases, and more importantly, you reduce the likelihood you’ll receive an unsubscribe request in return.

Personalizing your messages with a client’s name is fine, but including the real-time customer information in your message, such as the last time you spoke, asking about their industry, and mentioning their business can build engagement and drive a response.

Statistics show that the average click-through rate on personalized messages is 2.5 times higher than non-personalized campaigns. Personalized messages tell your clients that you are actually engaged with what they want, which adds to the impression that you are adding value to their operation and not just wasting their time.

Diversify Your Marketing

Lastly, if you are receiving too many unsubscribe requests, it may be that you are sending out too many email messages. Try diversifying with alternative marketing techniques. You can reduce the number of emails you send, but still utilize other marketing tactics to engage with your clients and drive results.

Email marketing is a fantastic way to build a brand.  However, like any marketing, you have to know when enough is enough.  By eliminating irrelevant content and sending out messages that are personal and relatable to your customers, you’ll keep them engaged and continue to drive results while doing more to lower your opt-out rates.

Using Collaboration for Creative Web Design

Most major projects are not taken on by just one individual. They require a team effort to conceptualize, strategize, and successfully manage tasks so that a stellar project can emerge. Even activities that may seem like an individual endeavor, almost always require some collaboration.
Take the creation of an advertising campaign for instance. Although it may be the brainchild of one person, it requires a team of copywriters, editors, publishers, and sales representatives to publish the piece and develop it into a successful marketing campaign.

The same collaboration can also work well for designing revamping a stunning web site. When designing a website, collaborating with multiple team members, all with unique insight into your business, will help you avoid time-consuming mistakes and typically results in a more robust and engaging website.

Many companies now promote creative group sessions to experiment with new ideas and help assist in crafting a more effective web presence. These creative sessions allow fellow team members to add their innovative insights while inspiring them to up their game as an integral part of a collaborative effort.

Most designers are do-it-yourselfers by trait but understand that collaborating on the project will not lessen their creative input. It will enhance their ability to stay focused and receive valuable input on components of the website that may not be their forte. This collaboration can make a huge difference in the development of the site and also help the designer with future projects.

Creating a Collaborative Team

Collaboration works because it promotes team members with different areas of expertise to work together in developing a company-wide project. Members of this creative group will have a level of satisfaction in knowing they helped create something that will be building their company’s brand for years to come.

Here are few ways to get you started creating a collaborative team:

Establish a Clear and Concise Goal

Building collaboration on a website project has to include a compelling message. Team members will find all types of excuses not to work together, and by presenting a clear goal, it will help keep them on task and engaged in a common outcome. Designate a leader for the project and ensure he or she keeps team members inspired to accomplish goal milestones, and periodically recognizes their contribution to project.

Communicate Expectations of the Team

When forming a cohesive team, communicating to team members the expectations of them and their respective roles and responsibilities can do a lot to keep them on task. When team members are clear about their roles, they will work more effectively without duplicating the tasks of other participants.

Foster Cohesion between Members

There is no question that cohesive teams function better and are more successful. They perform better because as team members are handed more responsibilities and are included in the decision-making process, they feel more involved as part of the creative group. Weekly team huddles are an effective way to get members to participate in group discussions on objectives that have been met and which ones are still on the board.

Encourage Innovation

Management and team leaders need to foster an environment of innovation, where members are encouraged to brainstorm and conceptualize with new ideas that are embraced and evaluated by the team. When members are instilled with a sense of contribution and given authority to think outside the box, the collaboration is elevated to a entirely new level. The more encouragement and nurturing they receive from management, the more engaged and dedicated they will be to producing an exceptional finished project.

Recognize and Reward Collaborative Behavior

One of the simplest ways to have team members fully buy-in to your collaboration effort is to reward individual achievements by team members. Ensure active and positive participation is recognized and rewarded. Don’t just reward the significant accomplishments, but host periodic review sessions where team members are recognized for their contribution in overcoming obstacles. This recognition, coupled with gift card awards or project bonuses, can break down divisions among team members and honor the commitment and values of each member.

It is possible that team members would not have the same ideas working from their desks, so collaboration in think sessions is critical to moving the project forward. As employees discover different perspectives on the same idea, they instinctively strive to do better and contribute more themselves. Collaboration will improve the design process, lead to more employees feeling empowered to offer new ideas without fear of being criticized, and create a more unified and productive team. This mindset not only helps foster a more creative web design concept but will ultimately bleed over to other aspects of the business.