Why Are You Really Sending Emails (and Are You Achieving Those Goals?)

Email marketing can bring a host of different benefits to a business. You get to keep pitching your products to people who might have stopped by your website. You can announce special offers and you can remind prospects that you’re still around and ready to sell to them as soon as they’re ready to buy. By staying noticed, you make sure that prospect turns to you and not to a competitor.

It’s no wonder then that email marketers usually want more than one result from their email marketing campaign. In a survey for MarketingProfs and Junta42 Research, 78 percent of firms that use email marketing said that they were aiming for “brand awareness.” Sixty-nine percent were hoping for “customer retention/loyalty” and 63 percent said they wanted “lead generation,” almost the same number who said they were hoping for “customer recruitment.”

The top two goals then were forms of relationship-building; the next two, demands for sales.
Those two, very different, sets of goals can be seen in the content that gets sent through email and lands in our inboxes every day.

When Audible.com, an audiobook outlet, sent a piece of email marketing recently, it settled for an electronic flyer — and a subject line that was almost deceptive. “Download a FREE Audiobook Today” the email promised, as though it were handing out a desirable freebie in return for visiting the site.
In fact, bringing up the email shows an image that says you can “Download A FREE Audiobook Today” and then in small print underneath that headline: “When you try Audible for 14 days.”

This is lead generation that comes at the expense of customer retention. For most of the email’s readers, the feeling they’ll be left with is disappointment: the subject line promised a freebie; the email demanded $14.95 per month.

Sales Today or Sales Tomorrow?

It’s possible that the email will generate some sales (although the choice of “Listen Today” as a call to action may be less effective than the simpler, more acquisitive and more accurate “Download Today”) but it would be interesting to know whether it also damages the possibility of future sales from those who didn’t want to buy immediately and whose trust has now been damaged.

Australian photographer Scott Leggo, on the other hand, recently sent out a newsletter that prioritized brand awareness and customer retention over lead generation and customer recruitment. When Leggo begins
“Welcome to our Summer newsletter, the last for 2011. I can’t quite believe it’s December already and almost Christmas!”
his use of the first person builds a relationship with the reader. The next two articles are written in the third person, like news reports, and at the end of the newsletter come the pitches for his photographic calendar and prints (“the perfect Christmas gift,” we’re told).

It’s a mixture of brand awareness and direct selling that holds prospects close while also offering them products.

Which of these two strategies is going to have a stronger effect on the bottom line? Only the businesses themselves can say that. It’s likely that Audible’s email will have a more powerful short term effect and Scott Leggo’s email will generate some seasonal sales make his list stronger over the long term. The question for you is which of those goals you want to achieve — and which kinds of emails you should be sending out.