Imagine sitting down at your computer one morning, and finding two emails in your inbox from rival companies. Both contain identical discounts for something you’ve wanted to buy for ages. However, one email was sent specifically to you through a branded address, while the other has blank To and CC fields and came from a Gmail account.
Now think: which company would you feel more enthusiastic about giving your business to?
In the modern age, there’s often very little to distinguish between competing organizations. Drop shipping has helped to slash operating costs and margins, while anyone can create a stylish WordPress site that looks equally slick on a desktop and mobile devices. And while the prospect of same-day drone delivery is still some way off, it’s easy to ensure that ecommerce products are delivered promptly and safely. Consequently, customer service is one of the increasingly few ways to distinguish between good brands and great ones.
Making the difference
Email marketing campaigns are at the forefront of truly effective customer relations. An unsolicited email may be the first time a customer has heard of your brand, and first impressions count. Within a matter of seconds, the recipient will have subconsciously decided whether the sender is professional and friendly, or impersonal and anonymous. And if they decide the latter, this email won’t just be ignored. It may be flagged as spam, damaging the sender’s reputation, and reducing the chance of future messages reaching their intended targets.
One of the most important ways in which email marketing campaigns can avoid such negative connotations concerns branded email accounts. Here at Midphase, we include email addresses with every purchase of a website domain. As a result, Midphase customers are able to select specific email addresses (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc). As the web hosting specialists, we understand why customized email addresses are so important:
- It instantly identifies the origin of a message. A customer who’s just placed an order might not associate a Gmail account with their purchase. However, an email from email@example.com will immediately be connected to their order or account.
- It raises brand awareness. Every time a consumer sees a brand name, it subliminally reinforces the brand. Email is great for this, particularly when sending out periodic messages about new products or incentives. Customers will gradually start to associate certain brands with particular industries or services.
- It’s less likely to fall foul of spam filters. Any new email account has to build a reputation, and might initially arrive labeled as spam. However, recipient servers are more suspicious of messages from generic senders like Hotmail. A company-branded email will establish its sender reputation more quickly.
Choosing a suitable email prefix is another important consideration. It’s fine to have an info@ or sales@ address for general correspondence, but is this the first impression you really want to create in an email marketing campaign? It’s far better to send messages from a named individual, addressing the recipient directly. This suggests intimacy and exclusivity, building a connection and subconsciously encouraging people to read on. It’s also advisable for the sender to be a point of contact throughout subsequent customer journeys, ensuring clients don’t have to communicate with several email accounts in different divisions of the business. That gets old pretty quickly.
Small is beautiful
The other strand of this personalization process involves contacting named individuals one at a time. Having a named recipient in the To field immediately creates a sense of identity that can’t be imitated in a BCC. Each person won’t know how many other people received the same message, but they’ll know it’s no more specific to them than a billboard or radio advert. Although individual emails take longer to dispatch, they’ll achieve far higher response rates. And automated software tools take the strain out of mass mailings, distributing emails in response to specific events or when a certain amount of time has elapsed.
More advanced software packages break this down even further. They can send different subject lines or body content to specific audience segments. Advanced packages distribute messages at different times of day to suit international audiences, and provide bespoke reminders about unused vouchers or basket items. Because they’re personalized, they tend to achieve far higher read and response rates. And each of these little interactions reinforces the sense of a firm that truly cares about each individual client’s experience.
Making the numbers add up
Any email marketing campaign is a significant undertaking, consuming staff resources and requiring considerable planning. Sending messages targeted at individuals (and their unique needs or preferences) helps to ensure optimal response levels, justifying any initial investment. Meanwhile, the added professionalism of a branded email account helps to build trust – and establish a long-term client relationship…
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