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Engage Customers With Opt-In Email Marketing

Small businesses are increasingly being provided an opportunity to take advantage of marketing tools that for years were only available to large organizations with substantial marketing budgets.  This has helped to level the playing field and allow small businesses to compete with much larger competitors.  Opt-in marketing is ideally suited for small businesses, many of which are able to adopt these practices ahead of their larger and generally slower moving competitors.

The Opt-In Marketing Concept

Opt-In marketing is founded on the idea that customers provide the best advice about how they use your company’s products and services which enable it to supply you with the most reliable opinions on your advertising and marketing.   Working together with your customer matters substantially more now, because customers increasingly are convinced that marketing’s delivery and its messages are off-target, intrusive and also wasteful.

Marketing professionals have a new target: get invited into your customer’s businesses.  Have your clients “opt-in” to the technique of receiving information from you for their benefit, via the channel they have a preference for.  This allows you to produce better messages and products as you build mutually beneficial relationships.  But, be aware, when your clients invite you into their shops, afterwards they’re going to hold your promotions to higher standards simply because they have inserted you in a situation where you ought to fully grasp their businesses.  When companies in a single study proposed this cooperative, nontraditional approach to their clients, 90% of client professionals recommended the concept and agreed to be liaisons.

The Process of Opt-In Marketing

The whole process of opt-in marketing consists of seven distinct steps:

1. Focus attention on your costumer.
2. Figure out how your customer really wants to obtain the information you have.
3. Work to implement the appropriate message in the suitable media channels.
4. Transform your web site to make each customer’s encounter with it rewarding.
5. Establish a formalized system to keep in touch with consumers to evaluate their level of satisfaction.
6. Use marketing research to better understand every aspect of your marketing work.
7. Implement opt-in marketing on an continuous basis by following a specific checklist of responsibilities.

Opt-in marketing breaks from other commonly used, less effective promotion strategies by welcoming customers to share info with you – their goods and services supplier.  While you gather information about each client’s business, scheduling and key employees, you will understand who handles which jobs, how often the consumers wants information and exactly what media they prefer.  Utilized effectively, opt-in marketing data enables you to provide better support and improve your advertising and marketing.  By using it, you can decrease your advertising and marketing expenses and improve client retention.  With opt-in marketing, you only contact people who confirm that they would like to hear from you.  This straightforward change corrects one of direct marketing’s greatest issues by eliminating the dissemination of off-target direct mail to those who may see it as nuisance or junk.

According to statistics from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the volume of people from the U.S. who “opt out” of sales solicitation contacts keeps growing 600% per year.  DMA reports that the number who wish to be removed from mail solicitation lists has increased continuously by 10% a year for several years.  The quantity of those who would like to be removed from phone solicitation rosters has grown 65%; e-mail sales list elimination requests are up 176%.  More dramatically, through the first five weeks that the U.S.’s National Do Not Call Registry existed, some 30 million individuals asked to have their names taken from direct marketing databases.

The truth is, the opt-out rate for some promotion campaigns can go beyond the sales rate.  The European Data Protection Directive of 1995 is all the more restrictive about the usage of customer information.  Member states must agree to adopt minimum privacy standards to avoid the utilization of personal data in direct marketing unless there is a legal reason to make use of it.  Some nations around the world, such as Spain and Italy, are much more stringent, forbidding promoters to send out direct marketing to individuals who have not specifically authorized it.

Direct marketing suffers from repetitive, inappropriate communications.  For example, a consumer who purchased a General Electric (GE) appliance mailed in a check to buy a long term repair insurance plan.  Several weeks later, the purchaser received an additional solicitation to acquire the policy.  The customer called GE customer care, only to learn that five mailings would likely be mailed regardless of whether they purchased the insurance policy.  Similarly, when a potential Bose radio customer called in a catalog order, the service rep requested the special offer code.  The buyer couldn’t find it inside the catalog.  The service representative informed the buyer to search for it online.  The buyer protested about the total waste of time, but the rep would not take the order without having the code.

It’s no surprise that customers feel progressively alienated when marketers erect purchasing barriers rather than streamlining the buying process.  In an age of unparalleled technology and information, individuals are irritated when manufacturers make them accountable for providing intra-company data in order to make a sale.

Defeating the Boundaries

As consumers opt out of direct marketing, companies ought to re-examine their methods and make each and every dollar count.  Individuals that envisioned e-mail to be a low cost, targeted substitute for more costly direct marketing and advertising have been dissatisfied.  Such companies as IBM and Hewlett-Packard pushed e-mail marketing, but received weak outcomes.  Due to the rise in spam, more and more people now refuse to permit firms to e-mail advertising information to them.  That might help clarify why e-mail direct marketing campaigns have such dismal results.  In 2003, the DMA analyzed 152 e-mail campaigns and discovered a response rate of under 2%.  The very best response rate was in retail (1.8%), followed by travel (1.5%), financial products and services (1.1%), catalogs and publishing (0.8%), and computer/electronics (0.4%).

Boost Client Satisfaction with Consensual Marketing

To address customers’ dissatisfaction about its marketing emails, IBM experimentally applied opt-in marketing to 221 clients who bought high-priced mainframes.  To find the cause of its communication problem, IBM analyzed its outreach from the customers’ viewpoint.  It found that it had sent these clients information in 35 separate categories, only four of which were strongly related their specific computer responsibilities.  IBM asked key individuals at each client firm to complete a profile, and identified the professionals who work directly with providers.

IBM then put in place its opt-in marketing system, including setting up an IBM staffer as the principal contact for these clients.  Compared to a control group, the research group revealed an 80% increase in income, a 75% reduction in IBM advertising costs, an 841% improvement in the volume of qualified leads and an 82% conversion rate from those qualified prospects.

Integrated Direct Marketing

Integrated direct marketing (IDM) offers the data customers need to consider your product or service, buy it and follow up on the purchase.  It organizes media and messages according to where the client influences buying sequence.  IDM’s tools include public relations, advertising, the Internet, e-mail, direct mail, sales visits and phone contacts.  Its messages adjust as clients advance through the stages of their relationships with the business.

Great IDM demands sending the right communication to the right individual at the proper time and location.  With opt-in marketing, consumers tell you when, where and to whom to send your communications.  When a customer contacts you as per your request, reply inside of 24 to 72 hours.  When consumers opt-in to the information flow, they are going to reveal how frequently they desire to be contacted.  Design your IDM around the customer’s sales life cycle – presale, sale, growth and retention – using communications suitable for each stage.

Employed correctly, IDM enables you to produce communications that fulfill your customers’ needs as you interact with your call center along with other customer service-driven areas of your business.  Increasingly, call centers are becoming the public “face” of businesses.  A 2003 survey discovered that 74% of U.S. consumers would rather phone an organization in regards to a problem, 26% use e-mail and 15% search on the internet.  Accordingly, trained phone personnel who are given the authority to resolve customers’ problems are critically important to building customer happiness as well as long-term consumer relationships.

Life-long clients provide real benefits.  The Harvard Business Review learned that a 5% improvement in customer loyalty can improve profits 25% to 85%, because previous clients are six times more prone to produce repeat business than new ones are.  Firms with satisfied clients also generally have far more devoted, productive employees.  Additionally, improved customer care is really a cost-effective way for your firm to distinguish itself thoroughly from its competitors.

Employing Opt-In Marketing Within Your Company

Because opt-in marketing involves input from different divisions, building a cross-functional team is the first step in developing an effective plan.  Convene a group with associates from management, product management, customer support, database marketing, print advertising, digital media, pr, telephone sales, creative, field sales, marketing, direct mail, finance, hr and legal.  Clearly identify numeric, quantifiable objectives and goals.  Then, pick a specific, competitive product or service to use to test the opt-in method.

The team should determine the target of its opt-in marketing campaign based on reaching the appropriate segments from the market and getting a satisfactory return for its promotion investment.  Too frequently, companies disregard trying to build more business from current clients in favor of trying to develop new business.  Depending on the firm’s situation, the opt-in marketing campaign also could chose to target dormant customers or qualified leads.  As the team defines the opt-in marketing campaign’s potential target market, it needs to weigh such factors as market penetration and size.  The promotion should prioritize an audience with the with the knowledge that marketplace segmentation indicates addressing a spectrum of clients, not specific groups.  An opt-in marketing plan can focus on one segment of an audience first and then go on to one more segment as it advances.  Together with studying the audience, the team needs to look at the opt-in marketing strategy and also the company’s products and solutions in regards to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis).  Make an effort to see these issues coming from both the company’s and the customers’ perspectives.

To launch your opt-in marketing campaign, determine the appropriate media and the right offer.  Relate your strategy to the way your targeted clients make their buying choices.  Use a database in an easily sorted structure, since the quality of the project’s data will account for up to 65% of the opt-in marketing campaign’s success.  Organize information so team members readily can determine key feedback, such as which product sold, who bought it, what prompted the purchase, where and how was it installed, and in what ways the client is utilizing it.

When you have this information in regards to a customer, team members can request that customer’s company to join the opt-in marketing program.  Additional participants will enlist if team members can contact several people in each targeted company.  The truth is, often you will need to reach as many as half a dozen people.  This includes making the company’s senior management conscious of the actual opt-in marketing process and just what it involves.  Senior managers should know that one of the opt-in marketing program field reps will contact people in their business by way of direct mail, e-mail, letters or telephone calls.

Businesses that take up opt-in marketing will find that it changes their consumer relationships.  When you treat customers with respect, honesty and integrity, that invariably will bring your relationships with them to higher levels, creating warmer, more flexible negotiations based on mutual exchanges of preferred information and facts.

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