There’s a lot of flashy terms around startup marketing these days. From “growth hacking” to “scalable marketing,” the name might change but the idea remains the same: To drum up more business. Arthur M. Hughes has been drumming up business for decades with some of the world’s largest and most respected companies. From IBM to Nestle’, Arthur’s helped set up databases for companies with massive market share, and he’s helped them market “at scale.”
As a student of the un-sexy school of “database marketing” (and a reader of Arthur’s work), it was an honor to interview Arthur and get his perspectives on smart email marketing strategies. I asked him to share a number of his best email marketing strategies and tips with me for my startup audience. Here’s three easy-to-implement email marketing “musts” from the man himself:
1 – Birthday Promotions. Hearing Arthur say this made me nearly kick myself, but the average birthday promotional email has a 60% open rate, while the average company email might only have an open rate of 8%. In my own business, the average un-targeted email blast is around 12% (with sub-segmented emails commonly performing twice as well), but that still comes nowhere close to 60%.
In email, the name of the game is “eyeballs on offers,” so by collecting date of birth in a survey, in the buying process, or in some other interaction, you arm yourself with the ability to send emails that get as close to an “eyeball guarantee” as you can find. This birthday email may be a relatively explicit call to an offer or special for your product or service, or it might drive to an upsell of some kind, or an additional, favorable customer action, such as:
2 – Asking for Ratings and Reviews. An early-stage company often struggles with wielding the kind of social proof that bigger companies enjoy. Your website and automated phone service and 99 Designs logo can make you “look big,” but nothing gets the credit card out quite like other people’s who’s lives you’ve improved with what it is that you sell. Hence, for startups, it’s all the more important to get ratings and reviews early from all customers at all levels.
If you’re students of the school of “make things people love,” then this shouldn’t be much of is issue, it’s simply a matter of asking – so have automated systems in place to ask! Few people will mail in a well-crafted testimonial on letterhead without being prompted, no matter how well you treat them. However, if prompted, people will be happy to rate your service or product, and give a detailed account of how your company helped them personally or professionally. Arthur rightly expresses and necessity for this to happen quickly – you cannot wait two months to ask for a review, ask for one as soon as possible while you’re still top of mind.
3 – Transactional Email Collection. Most any business has parts of it’s process that involve collecting of information without an explicit call to action for joining an email list. Arthur gives the example of Avis car rental. When people call Avis – if they aren’t already on the email list – they’ll be prompted to join the email list right on the phone, possibly with a kind of perk or special offer just for email subscribers. There are usually oodles of small opportunities to collect email addresses (from registration processes to purchases to phone calls) all of which – when implemented with rigor – can build a startup’s database faster and give them a wider audience to promote to early on. If this helps a startup vet deals from it’s own contacts, it almost invariably implies saving margin on outbound marketing efforts, keeping cash safe.
As a scrappy startup, leveraging marketing automation and the power of email can be an early advantage above using more costly strategies of direct mail or telephone outreach, and ultimately lead to sharper marketing systems once the business is up and running. Implementing even one of the above strategies (the first two can be automated) should help any cash-strapped young company win more business and make more from the business they win.
Image credit: jonallo.com