Is email marketing still the mutt’s privates? Or is it soooooo 2009?
The argument rages on across the blogosphere – but the pro-email crowd might have just fired the last shot they ever need to. Patrick at Kalzumeus Software has just fired off a massive cannonblast of a post on email marketing, comprehensively covering the advantages of contacting your customers through email with incredible thoroughness –
“One of the largely-unsung secrets to Facebook having such an insanely high user retention rate is that they use activity from your friends to give you highly personalized emails designed to bring you back to the site and post stuff. (A detail I really like: you can reply to email and then post things on Facebook without even visiting it. Facebook will then, predictably, hit your friend with an email and use social pressure from you to bring them back in.) Many social startups are extraordinarily aggressive with this early in their lifecycle (I’m looking at you, Quora) and gradually back it off over time.
Some folks might think I’m saying Build Trust With X, Monetize Trust With Email Sales Pitches, but it can work in exactly the opposite fashion, too. For example, I wrote a drip marketing campaign (a series of emails scripted to go out at particular intervals) for WPEngine. They sell high-end WordPress hosting, and every sale requires a strong commitment to change on the part of the customer — migrating your blog is not easy or fun for most people. They also charge multiples of what the typical WordPress host charges, because they’re not the typical WordPress host, so it is imperative to educate the customer on the difference. Many customers will not sit down and read 10,000 words of your marketing copy just because your face is pretty, but if you pitch them something like e.g. a course on how to improve their own WordPress installation, they’ll happily sign up for email from you. (Really.) You can then spend, e.g., eight emails over the course of a month educating them on what happens to WordPress under load and how to improve that, what WordPress’ security record is like and how to lock it down, and how browsers fetch and display content with reference to how to optimize one’s site to take advantage of it. As you gradually build up trust as a respected provider of optimization advice that your customers (if they are diligent) can see working for themselves week in and week out, you can get more aggressive with “So we talked about X and Y and Z, and you’ve implemented some of it and not implemented some of the rest yet. We could talk your ears off about this, but tell you what, if you switch to our service you’ll get it all because we breathe this stuff.”)
This type of approach demonstrably works well at selling software, even software which you might expect would require high-touch consultative sales processes. Indeed, this is a way to scale the initial parts of the high-touch sales funnel while simultaneously passively collecting information about customers to help you do lead qualification for the really intensive portions, like say webinars or live sales presentations. It also scales down beautifully to low-touch self-service sales approaches, too.”
My impression is that this post is more targetted at people who have yet to be convinced of email’s usefulness in marketing, like the tech-focussed Hacker News crowd, but the numerous examples, use cases, and demonstrations that Patrick offers are of use to those of us with a more conventional IM background too. His discussion of the psychology of email is particularly useful – who knew that people, by and large, actually like recieving it, for example?
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