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Is Email Killing Your Company?

Authors: Jay Baer Jay Baer
Posted Under: Digital Marketing
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flickr-photo-download_-saint-sebastianAre you looking at your email program as a long-term investor, or as a day-trader?

A lot of marketing tactics aren’t succeeding. It’s a combination of fundamental shifts in how audiences congregate and where they can be reached, and consumers that are too scared about an uncertain future to buy anything other than potatoes and ham.

But done right, email always works.

Email enables you to communicate with people that have some sort of prior relationship with your brand, and thus should be predisposed to wanting to buy more of what you offer.

Plus, you know something about them, and how to find them. You don’t have to wonder whether they are watching Grey’s Anatomy or reading the Indianapolis Star.

Everything is aligned for you to use the unique properties of email (existing relationship and knowledge about the audience) to create and nurture a powerful, persuasive, hyper-relevant dialog.

But you’re not doing that.

You’re panicking.

The email I’m receiving from the brands I support has devolved in the past 90 days to a dubious series of “best sale ever” and “60% off everything” missives that have exactly zero to do with my personal needs, wants, or desires.

All of a sudden we’re back in email, circa 2002. I’m getting offers from reputable, experienced companies that are just one giant graphic shouting “Everything is on Sale.”

Sometimes, Marketing Requires Courage

I know your boss or your client is starting to freak out, and is prodding you to hit the email list again and again in a withering attempt to generate some sort of revenue in an historically bleak period.

But email isn’t a short-term tactic. It’s a forever tactic. Like a butcher in a small town, you need to use your email program to create customers for life, not for this week. In combination with your customer experience, your email and social media programs can turn transactional customers into brand ambassadors. But too many companies are squandering years of email goodwill that they may never recapture.

I’ve heard the argument that many companies are fighting for their survival, so they have to think short-term and hit their email list with offers that are unprecedented in their aggression. I’m sympathetic, but also incredulous. Because the simple truth is this:

When people don’t want to spend money, you have to market to them with more personalization and relevancy, not less. If people are afraid to spend, no amount of percentage off is going to change that underlying psychology. Instead, you have to communicate to them individually.

How about an email from the CEO saying he knows you bought a sweater in September, and other colors of that same sweater you loved are now available for 60% off? You’re pushing the same discount message, but in a way that is personal, compelling, and effective.

Go Long or So Long

Now is the time to be a long horizon investor. In real estate. In equities. And in email, which you should be treating as one of your company’s most important ongoing assets, and not like an ATM.

Can you balance short-term needs with long-term brand-building via email?

(photo by tifotter)

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