Jenna Jantsch (Vertical Response) on Email Marketing: Build. Segment. Reward. (12HoursOfTech Video)

12hoursoftech-150x54.pngOn June 11, 2010, produced 12HoursOfTech as part of Internet Week. The full day event, followed by a reception, brought together speakers from Ez Texting, Kutenda, Infusionsoft, Orange Soda, Net@Work, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, IT2Max, Tap11, Affect Strategies, Pattie Stone, Odesk, Hill Data Management , Yelp, Rate Point and Antonio Neves.
12HoursOfTech was hosted by Microsoft NYC and sponsored by Net@Work
Jenna Jantsch – Vertical Response, Social Media Marketing Manager
Watch the video and/or read the transcript:

The number one question people ask us once they sign up to do email marketing is: How do I build my list?

You need to take your time. It’s not built in a day, and it needs to be quality.
It should consist of people who have given you permission to email them. If you have built your list yourself you can expect to achieve with it a lot more, than with a list of 100,000 random people, Ms. Jantsch says.
Such a list is best achieved through opt-in forms or links to opt-in forms, on every single page of your website. Opt-in forms can be added to blogs or to FaceBook pages. On the form itself you also need to tell people what they are going to receive and give them a benefit. Some people even add opt-in information to their business cards saying on the back: You get 10% off if you sign for the newsletter here. You can also include opt-in information in the thank you notes in product packaging, saying: If you’d like to have a discount or if you’d like to be in the know then sign up for our email here.

Another very good resource is to create a list via partnerships or trades with non-competitive or friendly business ventures. You can offer a trade for regular ad space in your respective newsletters. Thus you can profit form commonly built trust. The other business’ customers are likely to open this advertising message and learn more. You should include an opt-in form in that message and try to make the viewers join your list. Always explain why should people sign up to your emails or your e-mail marketing campaigns.

The next step for you consists of differentiating among the different types of customers on your list.

Send out relevant information and offers to the new customers that signed up in the last month. Bear in mind they are very different persons than those who have been receiving your emails for years. The new people need more of an introduction. Target them specifically with that. People who have just signed up are generally ready to get more information and are susceptible to favorably respond to incentives, this is a real opportunity, Ms. Jantsch says.
You also need to react differently to customers who have made a purchase from you. Send them a personalized thank you letter; offer them after-sale services or discounts for returning customers.

Once you segment your top customers, you can think of ways to reward them and keep building your relationship with them.

You need to talk to them differently than those who haven’t made a purchase in 6 months. Target your special deals according to your different types of customers.
Send out “We’ve missed you” notes to customers who have not returned for some time. Offer them surveys, ask whether or not there is something you could do to help them or whether they have an issue you need to address. Be open about it.
Vertical Response has many resources designed to assist you, such as how to create a successful opt-in form, how to build a list, etc., a blog where new strategies are explored and so on.

How to segment customers

Different opt-in forms

Asked to highlight the process of segmentation, Ms. Jantsch says that she would use different opt-in forms, depending on where the customers sign up. One opt-in form for FaceBook, a different one for the blog, and in this way she is able to send one type of campaigns to the people who read the blog and different ones altogether to those who have found the company on YouTube.

Don’t ask for too much information

Another suggestion is not to ask for too much information on the opt-in form. Keep it to the name and email; otherwise people get scared. Once they are through the door you can ask for additional pieces of information or send out surveys for the customer to take.
Vertical Response successfully has integrated a CRM solution with their sales department. Because the company creates its own products, it can provide their customers a lot more information – a lot more reporting data such as who clicked, what links they’ve clicked on, how many purchases they’ve made, etc. Vertical Response is a platform that tries to make it easier and faster working with reporting data.

Be Honest With Customers

Another thing to keep in mind – be honest with your customers and do what you’ve promised. Say, for example, your opt-in forms state that they will receive an e-mail once a week. If you are going to change this, make an announcement. Vertical Response sends e-mails to small businesses around 3 times a week. For smaller businesses, Ms. Jantsch recommends sending emails once a week or if you don’t have the resources – but at least once a month. More infrequently than that people start to forget who you are.
Vertical Response uses Google Analytics integration. It really is the best one, Ms. Jantsch says.

What about the rule not to overload the consumer?

Some companies send emails every day and when you decide to unsubscribe because you’ve been overloaded, you finally see there is an option where you can choose how many times per month you’d like to receive their e-mails. Shouldn’t this option be the norm initially when you are signing for certain company’s newsletter?
Ms.Jantsch answers that this should be the norm for sure. Vertical Response and a lot of other service providers have figured different ways to do that. Vertical Response is working on a service where the customer could choose what type of messages he would like to receive as well. If you like to receive only e-mails with special offers or only newsletters, you should be able to do that.
If you receive an email every day and you are not happy with that, may be you are not like the company’s average customer who would appreciate that kind of attention. But if the company gets a high number of unsubscribings, they should analyze that, slow down and not send every day. It’s a good thing to get feedback from your customers. Ms.Jantsch recommends a survey. Really pay attention to your top paying customers’ answers. Those are the type of people you’d like to add to your list.

About Vertical Response

Vertical Response’s product is actually a self-service product. What the e-mail service providers bring to the table is the html, the easy list segmentation, and hugely the reporting. E-mail service providers usually have agreements with ISPs / Internet service providers/ so their delivery rate is higher than anything you send out of the usual e-mail clients. For example if you send anything close to a hundred e-mails at the same time from Outlook you are going to be blocked.

If you haven’t connected to a customer for a long period of time is it appropriate to send him a campaign newsletter?

If you haven’t talked to a customer for 6 months or a year, you can always send him an initial email saying “We’d like to add you to our e-mail list” or “We are starting an e-mail newsletter campaign, do you agree to participate?” If you are having a personal relationship kind of e-mail connection with some of your clients, just include the opt-in form in that e-mails. The opt-in form will be linked directly to your list so you can send them right away.

There is a similar e-mail service providers like Constant Contact for example? In what way Vertical Response is different from them?

There are a lot of e-mail providers and every one of them is really different from the others. A lot of the differences come from the product design as well. The main thing is to find out which one works best for you and what you are most comfortable with, Ms.Jantsch says. Constant Contact offers an event application; Vertical Response offers direct mail postcards.
Vertical Response provides in-house support – not outsourced – that could answer all your questions but it also looks over every single campaign before it goes out the door. Vertical Response has a higher deliverability rate.
What is the best way to send an event invitation?
Some of Vertical Response’s customers are using their survey product for an event registration. It’s a good way to collect that type of information. If you need someone to pay for a ticket, Vertical Response has partners that do that and they are integrated with the company’s service system so you can keep a list in both places. ActiveConversion is a great partner for example.