Email is cool again. A recent Venturebeat study found that nearly 70% of marketers will use more email marketing in 2015 than in 2014. Email is the preferred channel among customers who wish to receive information from brands. Organizations who shied away from email in the past are realizing that email is not only worthwhile, it’s pretty darn terrific, and they are working hard to either build out or fine tune existing email programs.
However, companies large and small need help. Self-serve email marketing programs usually provide outstanding tutorials related to the nuts and bolts associated with pushing ‘send.’ Many organizations require additional guidance. For brands that seek to replicate the typical “achieve a $38 return for every $1 invested in email” (or better), agencies have an opportunity to provide email strategy, develop new email programs, and steward their client’s email marketing operations toward high-five-worthy growth levels.
While there are surely more potential opportunities, here are five email marketing program types that agencies can build to support clients.
1. Long-Term Lead Cycle Communications
This is the most common program type and likely involves the greatest simple-to-complicated variance. In essence this program aims to convert potential prospects over a period of time. As part of any lead generation program, agencies can develop a series of messages (hopefully organized in a calendar) to keep customers informed. Content provided within this program type often takes the form of a newsletter with sales/discounts, new product alerts, relevant news and updates, and enticing materials that keep the recipient engaged and informed. Without full and precise knowledge of what the individual might want next, the long-term lead cycle program often acts as a subtle reminder.
Goal: Convert a prospect with awareness or mild interest into a solid lead with intent to take action.
Audience Phase: Awareness to Consideration + Retention
2. Short-Term Lead Cycle Communications
Essentially, this program type could also be referred to as “nurture campaigns” (here is some more on email nurture campaign strategy). Short-term programs are based on some prevailing knowledge about what the customer wants and a high level of demand. Two common questions that arise during planning and build-out processes for nurture campaigns include, “what should we send?” and “how often should we send it?” If possible, mimic the offline sales process/cycle for the item/service in question. Aim to provide pertinent information at the exact most opportune time and lead the prospect closer and closer to the eventual sale. Address points of friction and remove all dissonance. Beyond a simple email service provider, this project type usually requires additional or upgraded technology to fire off automated messages to the appropriate recipients at the right times.
Goal: Deliver a series of informative messages to sales leads according to a cadence that mirrors an aggressive buying cycle.
Audience Phase: Intent to Purchase
3. Content Promotion Efforts
Since the advent of content marketing as we know it, brands have been seeking new ways to promote and distribute their newly developed ‘stuff.’ Agencies can create email programs to promote their client’s freshest content (e.g. downloadable assets, guides, whitepapers, research studies, videos, podcasts, events, etc.). The most difficult part of the content promotion process involves targeting. We must have enough information about the members of our audience to assure that they will find value in the message. Content promotion programs are as frequent as their production schedules allow (i.e. sometimes hyperactive and sometimes lackadaisical). These programs can either supplement or replace traditional newsletter programs.
Goal: Use email as a distribution channel to promote relevant content to known audiences.
Audience Phase: Consideration + Retention
4. Indirect Selling Series – Assets by Email
Indirect selling series constitute another form of content marketing. As opposed to pitching some asset via email, the contents of the email and their timely delivery are the asset.
For example, imagine a kit car company that provides tips for mechanics throughout their project. Imagine an email delivered to a new mom that provides informative and encouraging content about her baby’s growth and development process. Or picture an agriculture company that delivers automated “its time to plant X” reminders to backyard gardeners based on their location and plot size. Similar to social media, email can be a powerful instrument that fortifies greater connections between brand and customer without directly selling anything.
Goal: Offer helpful, informative, and sometimes entertaining content via email without a hard sell.
Audience Phase: Awareness to Consideration + Retention
5. Email Audits
Review current program elements including the business objective-to-platform match, list acquisition and hygiene processes, design, delivery process, and metrics. I recommend performing audits with new clients, and consider evaluating email marketing operations for existing clients with whom you are not involved day-to-day. View a full email marketing audit outline here.
Goal: Evaluate and improve current email marketing programs, processes, and resources.
Audience Phase: N/A
If your agency is looking to expand its email marketing practice, consider the five program types above. Each requires specific nuances relevant to the individual client, but they can all pay dividends for both clients and the agency. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me as I currently consult with many digital marketing agencies on growing their email marketing operations.