By: GUEST AUTHOR, Will Ingleby, Solutions for Accounting | 3/10/2017
Solutions for Accounting and CRM are leading Swiftpage Act! specialists. With over 40 dedicated consultants, developers and technicians, the company delivers complete CRM and Accounting Solutions to UK SMEs. Solutions have been specialists in their field for 20 years and are proud to be an Act! CRM Diamond accredited partner.
It’s good sport for economists to prophesy how things will look once ‘Article 50’ of the Lisbon Treaty has been triggered, but in many cases predictions of the post-Brexit economy might only prove to be as accurate as those unwitting predictions of the referendum result that gave rise to it.
What most soothsayers are agreed upon though, is that if any investment by a commercial organisation is guaranteed to deliver a return whatever the future holds, it is one made in improving the customer experience.
It is perhaps a fair assumption that the severance of economic ties between the UK and Europe might mean shrinking (or at least less accessible) markets in which companies on both sides of ‘La Manche’ are forced to compete.
To remain competitive and differentiate themselves therefore, companies will need to be more creative in the way they manage customer relationships. Whether client retention or new business is the goal, the battle ground is likely to be customer service.
In forward looking businesses, we see a keen focus on improving communications and making customer interactions more valuable. Social media plays an increasingly important role in this endeavour, but with an estimated 4 billion email accounts globally (growing at 6% per annum) and 75 trillion emails sent each year, email is still the unassailable communication channel of choice for most of us.
It is important to recognise that as a society, we are engaging more frequently with a broader variety of ‘digital’ communications technologies, especially in the mobile environment. Immediately available and reliable high-speed global networks have enabled significant growth in the adoption of Social platforms, digital telephony and video conferencing as critical business tools.
Email has also flourished in this connected universe with huge growth in usage. It has become an even more potent tool; inspiring research, facilitating selection and validating decision making.
Marketers have at their disposal a broad array of communication channels – more today than at any time in history, and the list is growing. Which tools we choose to use will depend upon the culture of our target environments, the nature of our relationships, the way we (and our clients) like to do business and the capabilities and resources that we have.
Rather than making a choice to adopt a particular technology and abandoning all others, the ‘smart marketer’ selects channels that may be used to complement each other.
For example, it is a fact that in many businesses the most effective communication tools (that drive revenue) are more traditional. These might include telemarketing and direct mail but whilst effective, these are expensive mechanisms. In these circumstances, businesses may employ email marketing tools like Act! emarketing to prequalify direct mail recipients or telemarketing targets. This allows them to re-focus upon those who have opened emails and clicked links, thereby confirming some level of interest as part of a prequalification process.
It might be that a business wishes to extend their reach via social channels, but does not have the social infrastructure in place. Simple social sharing buttons on Act! emarketing emails can empower recipients to ‘share’ the business’s email content through their own social channels. In effect, those who employ Act! emarketing technology may take advantage of the incredible viral power of Twitter (for example) without even having their own Twitter account!
Email is massive, and it isn’t going to go away soon. An issue we face however, is that much of the email flying around in the ether is unwanted. It ranges from sales communications and newsletters (to which recipients are indifferent) to undesirable, unsolicited spam!
Our challenge as email marketers, is to differentiate ourselves from spammers. We need to present a carefully constructed and valuable message, targeted to an appropriate community of recipients. It must be personalised for relevance with a genuine and achievable outcome that is satisfying to both sender and receiver.
We must also recognise the behaviours of those with whom we would wish to engage. How do they manage email? What devices and email clients do they use? With what means of response mechanism are they most likely to be comfortable? It is also important to understand the importance of measurement for ultimate success with email marketing comes only when campaign results are used to ‘inform’ future broadcasts and customer interactions.
Certainly, there are a number of considerations. However, the availability of low cost easy-to-use email marketing tools means that with some careful thought and planning, any business can use email to help change the nature of customer relationships.
The keys to success with email marketing are understanding, planning and measurement. Adopters of the medium need to understand the technological landscape of email marketing, whilst at the same time appreciating the psychological responses of email recipients. Objectives need to be determined and plans put in place with clearly identified success metrics. It sounds complicated, but really it isn’t. With a little careful thought and planning, outstanding results can be achieved.
Act! Certified Consultants offer the technical training and ‘best practice’ education to help User organisations embrace email marketing as an integrated component within Act! CRM. With this knowledge, the outcomes can be transformational.
To learn more about email marketing with Act!, click here.