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The Marketing Unleashed Podcast – How to effectively use email marketing to build brand awareness?

Joel: Welcome everyone and thanks for listening. So today we’re going to be talking about how to use email marketing to build brand awareness. And with me I have Jamie and Nathan. Jamie and Nathan, how are you doing?

Jamie: Great.

Nathan: Good.

Joel: All right, so Nathan and I had a discussion in a previous segment about whether or not businesses should be using email marketing. And I think it was pretty clear that we both agreed that they should, as it is one of the the best ways of getting responses back and actually building a relationship with your audience. Now today I want to focus on, how should you approach email marketing from a design perspective? What should you be sending? You know, just ways to kind of build that relationship and personalize the emails, and incorporate strong calls to action. So Jamie, you’re our lead designer here. So talk about some of the design elements that should be in every email, what it should look like, and then we’ll kind of go from there.

Jamie: Well first and foremost, you’ve got to have consistency and let everybody be familiar with your brand. So if everybody is familiar with your brand, you want to get that logo up there nice and big. Maybe not nice and big, but they need to see that right away.

Joel: Just has to be clear.

Jamie: Yeah. Nice and clear. And you need to be consistent with your imagery and the visuals, and you don’t want to start straying away from how your brand looks, you know? So if you’re somebody like Old Navy or Sephora, or you know, I’m just using fashion because that’s what I know, they need to be instantly recognizable. So whenever you open up that email, you instantly know, oh yeah, that’s Sephora. I know that.

Joel: So should they be using the same look and feel and the branding that they use in their print and in their website and in their store?

Jamie: Right.

Joel: Okay.

Jamie: Yeah. So that instant recognizable look and feel, that kind of instills trust and confidence in the brand. So that’s a major thing that you need to do visually and into your design. So a really easy way to do that is to use a template and just use that same template in your email marketing, and that’ll make it really easy.

Joel: Okay. So Nathan, we talked about this in the previous segment about how the first step in any email marketing campaign is to really get their permission, or get the recipient to opt-in. Because this is such an important part, because you have to follow the rules of the … What is it, the CAN-SPAM Act?

Nathan: Yes.

Joel: Yeah. So because you have to follow those rules, I really want to drive it home that people need to get the permission. Can you you elaborate a little bit more on why that is?

Nathan: Well, you have to have people’s permission because you can’t send unsolicited email to people according to the CAN-SPAM Act. Now, there are a lot of sort of loopholes and ways that businesses get around this, and a lot of the companies that do this typically are originating overseas. So that’s why you’re still getting a lot of spam because it doesn’t really have a lot of teeth internationally. So businesses in the US though do have to follow those rules. And so if you are emailing people, I’ve heard of lawsuits where people have sued companies because they continue to send emails. There’s a lot of rules that come with the CAN-SPAM Act. You have to include options to unsubscribe in every email. One of the things that they also request is that you let people know right away where they’re coming from.

Nathan: So you can’t say, get them to sign up in one place and then have a completely different email newsletter that doesn’t even have anything to do with the original signup. So that kind of goes back to what Jamie was saying in terms of getting a template. The template also needs to flow from the design of, say the website and the other marketing materials. So when you see it, right away, you know this is my newsletter from Coca-Cola, or whatever. You know that all of that material came from this place. You can recognize, yes I signed up for this. And then if you decide you want to quit, there has to be an easy option for doing that.

Joel: You know, what I always wonder about the CAN-SPAM Act, and a lot of the no-call, you know the phone number list, they don’t have anything protecting your home address. I know this is kind of a side note, but you could send anything you want to a home address if you want. I mean any kind of advertisement, unsolicited, doesn’t matter. I always wondered why that was [crosstalk 00:05:19]-

Nathan: I mean when it comes to that, I would think that that’s a little less sort of obnoxious when it comes than say a phone call. A phone call is annoying because a lot of cases you don’t know everyone who calls you, so you’re going to answer that. And now you’re interacting with their chat bot, or whatever it is that they’ve got, their automated system for calling you. And that can get pretty annoying. It’s hard to just sort of dump that in the trash right away. Whereas, if somebody sends you a postcard in the mail, you know, it’s pretty easy just to kind of toss those in the recycling as you’re going through your mail, and it’s not too obnoxious. With phone calls, it’s more difficult. I think spam is just something, an email that people are used to.

Nathan: And spam protection tools do a pretty good job for the most part of getting rid of that stuff. I know, we still get complaints and people ask us to help them get rid of their spam. And there’s ways that you can do that to kind of mitigate the spam that you get. But I think the tools that are out there help, but there are always going to be an incentive for people to figure out ways around those tools. But what it goes back to is, legitimate companies, the companies that we deal with every day, they’re not going to spam you. They want to interact with you, they want to build a positive relationship. As soon as you start feeling like you’re being spammed by a company, that sort of turns you negative and affects your perception of the company. And we want you to do business with them, we don’t want you to have a negative opinion. [crosstalk 00:07:04] So we’re going to do everything we can to avoid that.

Joel: Right. Okay. All right. So let’s move on. Let’s talk about fostering the customer loyalty with good storytelling and content. You know, if you’re a B2C brand, and your sending out emails about products, I mean, it gets a little annoying if somebody receives an email every day saying buy my stuff. Right? So how do you tell a story? And we kind of talked about this before, you know, about storytelling. What’s the best way to do that in email, telling the story?

Jamie: Well, I think you need to … it goes back to, don’t write an email every single time that is just soliciting sales. You’ve got to kind of personalize it. Am I not close to the mic?

Joel: Yeah, it was just cutting out a little bit.

Jamie: Oh, okay. You’ve got to kind of personalize it, and maybe if each email is kind of focusing on a different product, segment it out, target different types of customers in different age groups and things like that. And focus more on what that product is about. And don’t just be like, buy this, buy this, and talk about like we were talking about, make it a story, a testimonial or something like that.

Joel: Well see, there you go. I think you hit it. Testimonial. I think talking about … I mean it’s cool whenever you hear about stories of people that work inside the company. If you’re like, an Old Navy, you know, well let’s just say that there’s somebody that’s been working at Old Navy for 25 years. You know, it would be cool to spotlight that, because it shows that company cares. There’s a reason why people stay there for that long. You know, maybe they’re in the warehouse, maybe they’re in a retail store, or maybe they’re in the corporate ladder somewhere.

Jamie: Yeah.

Joel: You know? Nathan, you got anything to add on that?

Nathan: Yeah, I think there’s sort of two aspects there. The one is, avoid the continuous sales pitch. You don’t want to continuously be, sell, sell, sell on the first line of your newsletter, and your other email communications, that just gets annoying. I mean, the people, they may be looking for your product, but a lot of email marketing is timing. And so, getting that email in there when they’re thinking about buying it is kind of crucial. So you’re going to send a lot of emails just to kind of be in front of them.

Nathan: And the other thing is giving it a personality. It’s sometimes difficult to do, but the content that you produce, you kind of get a feel for emails whenever you’d give that product a personality. And then that allows you to kind of expand and not always be just sell, sell, sell. You can sort of use that personality. Maybe talk about other things like you mentioned, like testimonials, how this product can help, different, you know, say community activities that they sponsor, different things. You know, point them to other aspects of your company besides just go here and buy this product.

Joel: Right. And I would also say, whenever you’re writing emails, you have to keep in your mind, you have to come up with this fictional customer, like your avatar. You know? This person is your ideal customer. You’re speaking directly to them. If your ideal customer is somebody that you actually know, then put a picture of them, type the email while you’re looking at the picture. It’s kind of creepy sounding, but it just gives you a clear focus on who you’re writing to, and who you’re speaking to when you’re writing it.

Joel: Now what about B2B? A lot of times B2B, whatever the service or the products that you’re selling, it’s not always a consumer. It’s not always like consumer mentality where, oh, I see it, I’m going to go buy it today. You know, B2B you really have to cultivate that relationship. What’s the story with B2B emails? Is it talking about a lot of the problem solution? Is it like the testimonials? Is it talking a lot about the culture of the company? Because a lot of companies like to work with other companies that have good cultures. Or is it talking purely about, hey, this is our product, you know, come and use us. You know, come to us for it.

Nathan: A lot of what we’ve used our email services in the past for, for B2B, has been informational. You know, whenever new products are coming out we want people in the industry to know. You know, this the way the industry is going. And it’s a little easier to avoid the continuous sales pitch whenever you’re doing B2B because those sales tend to develop longer and take longer over time to develop those relationships that you build, and you’re working with these people over time. So really, my feeling is on this sort of B2B emails, it’s more informational. And this is where you can get training. This is where certain events in your industry are happening, and these are the events that we’re going to, come meet with us.

Jamie: We’re going to a trade show.

Nathan: Exactly right. Yeah, trade shows. Promoting your trade show and your other appearances.

Nathan: So I mean, I think for me B2B emails are actually a little bit easier, just because there’s a lot of information that our companies that we work with produce. And so we want people to know, you know, here’s where they are. One other thing that B2B uses that B2C doesn’t, is you want to look good because you want people to maybe come and work for you. And so if you’re sending emails to other people in the industry, you know, they’re going to form that relationship with you and start to think, these people see nice, they have it together. You know, they have a lot of nice interesting activities that they’re involved in. And so, maybe whenever it comes time for you to look for another job, that you’ll be in their mind, or maybe I’ll transfer and work for them.

Jamie: Yeah. So you’re always looking for that kind of brand consistency. And like you said, the culture.

Joel: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah. I didn’t even think about for like recruitment, employee recruitment. All right, so whenever we want to personalize emails, how do we segment our emails out? And we’ll kind of take it as a two, you know, two different mentalities. First, we’ll start with B2C and then we’ll go to B2B. So B2C, I mean obviously, you know, I’m a consumer. All right? Sorry if I keep going back to Old Navy, but you know, we’ll keep it consistent here. I don’t care about Old Navy’s female line of products. You know, I just don’t. So if they don’t segment me and say, okay, don’t send Joel dress stuff.

Jamie: Right.

Joel: You know, ads about dresses or, I dunno, shorts, or women’s apparel in general. How can other companies, I guess, segment their customer base? I’m probably not phrasing that question correct. [crosstalk 00:14:35].

Nathan: One easy way to do that is to look at the customer history. So if someone’s already signed up, or you have some sort of, like a existing relationship with them, maybe a rewards tracking system or something, so you can track all the purchases that they’ve made. Then-

Jamie: You’re going to find out some stuff about them.

Joel: Right. Okay.

Nathan: So you’re going to have a nice space [crosstalk 00:00:14:56]. You can pitch, you know, we’ve got a sale on something that maybe you buy on a regular basis. And we know, here’s the group of people who buy this product maybe once every quarter, and we’re coming up on a sale for that. Then we can mine that data and say, give me the list of all the people and segment that way on previous history. Now demographics is another thing, that goes back to sign up for the newsletters. Sometimes we try to find balance, but you got to try to get a little information about the people that are signing up for your newsletter. So just asking for an email address sometimes isn’t enough. Sometimes you want to know age ranges, sometimes you want to know gender, sometimes you want to know location, things like that. So if you can get a little bit of that when they sign up, then you can use that to start segmenting them if they don’t already have a relationship with you.

Joel: Okay. I appreciate you guys handling that because that’s the answer that I was looking for. I just didn’t know how to phrase the question. So, all right.

Jamie: And you could also take that further. I mean, if you’re talking Old Navy, find out if they have kids and things like that.

Nathan: And that goes back to something we’ve talked about in the earlier segment, Joel, about surveys. So one thing you can do is have sort of an initial joining email. When someone signs up for your newsletter, you can, you know, maybe the first or second email that you send to them is a survey. And you just ask them questions, and use that to develop a profile, and use that to continue to segment them.

Jamie: Right. And find out what area of the country are they? Because I can give you some more information.

Joel: Right, right. Yeah. I mean, and it could even be daily because like today it’s particularly cooler in the morning, where, who knows, in Texas it could be 90 degrees.

Jamie: Right.

Joel: Right now. So, yeah. And obviously you wouldn’t want to send the same email to the same region.

Jamie: Right. And think about if you’re in like a trading company, and you’re sending out articles. You wouldn’t want to send information to an advanced trader, and it’s about like beginning stuff.

Joel: Right.

Jamie: You know? Just information that’s more advanced to somebody who’s like a newbie.

Joel: Yeah.

Jamie: Stuff like that.

Joel: Yeah. All right. But now B2B. Is segmentation as important? Or is it more, you know, hey, as long as you can use our products or services, you should get the email?

Nathan: One thing that I always think of for B2B would be sort of like job title. So a good way to segment people would be, you’re not going to send maybe installation techniques for your new product to the office manager because they’re not doing that work. [crosstalk 00:17:52] You going to want to send those to people who are installers, or something along those lines. So a lot of times we segment by job title, so we’re getting the information that people would actually find valuable. Now for the other way, if you’re talking about project planning, maybe you send those to the higher ups, not the installers, because they don’t really care. They’re not the ones doing the project planning. So you send those emails to the people that are going to make those types of decisions.

Joel: Right. Okay. And now what about like … I think one of the most important things whenever somebody signs up for an email is a welcome email. I mean, I think everybody enjoys a welcome email. Number one, it confirms that you actually did sign up.

Jamie: Right.

Joel: And number two, it’s just a nice, hey, welcome to the family type thing. So I think either B2C or B2B, they should be doing the exact same thing. And in that welcome email, it makes a great first impression. It makes you look like, I mean-

Jamie: Legit.

Joel: Yeah, legit. Like you are welcoming them. They are a part of the group now. They’re in the know, they’re in the exclusive club of your emails, you know?

Jamie: Well, it’s also a chance for you to to say, hey, this is what you can expect. Also, you can put in some more questions, survey questions. You can say, how often do you want to receive emails?

Joel: Right.

Jamie: If you’re going to be sending weekly, monthly, you know, things like that. Maybe they don’t want to receive a whole bunch.

Joel: Right.

Nathan: Yeah. Yep.

Joel: Yep. All right. And then, I guess the last thing I want to talk about was incorporating strong calls to action. B2C, obviously it could be a sale, it could be, you know, these are limited time, whatnot. B2B, what is the strong call to action? Is it, give us a call, we provide solutions, what do you think works best?

Jamie: I think it needs to be, either way, whatever it is. Yeah, maybe it needs to be, call us. Or, come to our booth. Or, download this white paper. Whatever it is, it needs to be very clear, very obvious. It should be just probably one thing.

Joel: I guess-

Nathan: It needs to be something that does something for them. You can’t give them calls to action that aren’t going to result in anything good for them. So you want, come look at this training information. Come talk to us about our new products at the trade show. You know, you’ve got to offer them something of value in these calls to action because if you say, click here to go look at our website, that’s not a very strong call [crosstalk 00:20:38].

Joel: Well, okay, so do you ever want to send an email without a call to action?

Jamie: No.

Nathan: No, you want to give them an opportunity to interact. And part of the whole call to action thing is a way for you to track how well your newsletter’s doing, and to keep the list fresh. Because you’re going to want to know, how valuable is this list? If I send out this email with this call to action, what kind of percentage am I looking at in terms of a return on this call to action? Am I going to get 20% of these people calling me? Am I going to get 20% of these people coming to visit me at my trade show booth? So you know, continuing to add those calls to action in the email keeps the email lists fresh and up to date. So you know how valuable it actually is.

Jamie: Yeah.

Joel: Right. All right, well before we summarize here, anybody have anything else to add?

Nathan: No, I think that’s really it. I mean the whole thing with the email list is, you’ve got to follow the guidelines so that you make people feel comfortable. You can ruin a relationship just as well as you can enhance a relationship by doing an email marketing campaign. If you people get signed up and then you don’t allow them to quit, and you’re sending them annoying out of touch emails that aren’t valuable to them, that can ruin your relationship. So you can do damage with an email campaign. Just like you can make sales with an email marketing campaign. So really any professionals kind of look things over and make sure that you’re doing it right.

Joel: Right. And like Jamie said, it has to look the same across the board with your branding, it has to be eye-catching, appealing.

Nathan: Oh yeah.

Joel: And in the content, you want to keep telling that story. It doesn’t always have to be sell, sell, sell. It shouldn’t always be sell, sell, sell. It’s trying to make sure that you’re building that relationship even deeper. You know, you should think of it like you’re trying to cultivate a friendship digitally.

Joel: All right, well I think we’ll wrap it up here. All right. Thank you both for joining me.

Jamie: Thanks.

Nathan: Thanks Joel. Thanks Jamie.

Joel: And we’ll be right back with this week’s, can’t let it go.