How to Take Your Email Campaign to the Next Level

By: Nick Cafferky

So you finally have the robust mailing list that you’ve always wanted. Maybe it was a successful trade show, maybe it was great a social media campaign — but regardless of how it happened, it is a great start. But what now?

While it’s true that having an audience is crucial for your firm, coming up with what kinds of messages you want to send to your mailing list is a very important next step. Email campaigns work more often than you think. In fact, a recent study from YES lifecycle marketing shows that 68 percent of all consumers have made a purchase that stemmed from a brand email in the last three months – and YES, this does include professional services, not just products. That number is likely to continue growing too, as it jumps to 83 percent with Millennials, who are slowly becoming a larger share of the people making purchasing decisions.

There are lots of different angles to take in an email campaign, but none is more effective than a discount. Ninety-two percent of people find some sort of discount as an important driver to making a purchase from an email. How does that translate for us, in the AEC industry though? We don’t run specials on design services. The point is simply to provide an incentive to act NOW. Perhaps that is waiving a small consultation fee or throwing in an additional perk, it still accomplishes the goal of giving your potential customer a sense of urgency and the feeling they’re getting something extra.

Just behind discounts is the reputation of your brand, which is an important factor for 90 percent of people. Have you won any awards for your work recently? Your mailing list should know about that! Finish a kitchen renovation you are particularly proud of? That’s a great way to build up that reputation and brand awareness. But remember, be sure to segment your list. The whole idea of a mailing list is to get a singular message out to a large number of people, but the occasional message to a handful of potential customers with personalized recommendations can be a huge step in gaining that sought after brand loyalty.

Finally, one big way that you can use your email list is, establishing yourself as a thought leader. This is probably the most effective email marketing tactic for B2B firms. Whether you’re sending out a free guide, white paper, or a unique energy use study, it doesn’t matter; anything of value that you can offer will go a long way in building up the idea that you are THE firm  to talk to. Additionally, it makes the people on your list want to open your mail in the first place. After all, you are providing them information that might help their business.

Now, as for WHEN to send your emails, it will depend on your audience and the type of list you have. While past research from sources like mailchimp say open rates are best during the middle of the week and the middle of the day, this data may be shifting. Consider your list and the type of email addresses you likely have. With a heavily personal email list (perhaps of target residential design clients) you should be aiming for early in the morning or sometime in the evening. Because while most people are constantly monitoring email throughout the day, these two times are when people are more likely to open promotional personal messages. The closer to those times you are, the closer you’ll be to the top of their inbox when they are ready to open it. For professional communications going to a list of mostly work email addresses, it’s likely that mailchimp’s data still stands. Timing your emails wisely prevents you from getting lost at the bottom of the inbox, where you will likely never be seen. And after all of the hard work you’ve done just to get that email out, that’s the last thing you want.

The Word of Mouth Myth

A common theme among most architecture and design firms is the belief that the vast majority of new leads come from word of mouth and referrals. A close second behind this is often the sentiment that marketing efforts therefore can’t make much of an impact. After all, history shows that it’s our past performance that gets us the new leads.

While on the surface these statements may seem easy enough to believe, the truth is that marketing has evolved and the concept of “word of mouth” means something entirely different today than it did twenty or even ten years ago. Clients rarely have only one touch-point before they make a buying decision.

So, since things aren’t as cut and dry, it’s important to look for more subtle clues to let you know what marketing efforts are influencing your clients. Here are some recent statements we’ve heard from clients that let us know that messages are connecting.

  • “I saw your sign in our neighbor’s yard, so we asked them about you.”
    This sounds like a neighborhood referral, but it was initiated by good, old fashioned project signage.
  • “You all worked with my prior company on a project. I remembered the __ you dropped off after the project was completed. I still use that!”
    The project was crucial, but the follow up was what kept your firm at the top-of-mind as they moved on.
  • “My colleague said they worked with you all, so I checked out your website.”
    This is a common one. Referrals today come in many varieties. The first step after receiving a referral for many clients is now research though – not a phone call.
  • “I feel like I see your firm everywhere.”
    Regardless of why the email came in, this statement is a testament to your marketing success.
  • “I love seeing your updates on ____.”
    When past or repeat clients say this, it’s like gold. Your existing relationship is a foundation that marketing builds on. It is a never a guarantee that you’ll get a second project from a client. Staying in touch with valuable info increases your chances though.

What other statements have you heard from new leads lately that let you know your marketing has had an impact?

Thinking About Trimming Your Marketing Budget? Five Areas You Shouldn’t Cut

We’ve all heard the news, and it isn’t pretty. Sequestration, furloughs, billions of dollars of budget cuts—across the board, everyone’s trying to scale back and pinch pennies.

In times like these, one of the first places many companies look to cut back is the marketing budget. This logic is flawed. (Yes, I know—we’re a marketing firm, so our perspective is a little biased. But hang on, and hear me out.) No matter how tough going things seems now, eventually things will improve, and the economy will recover. When that happens, clients will spend more freely—and you’ll want to make sure you’ve remained visible to prospective customers.

Also, because belt-tightening times inevitably mean that many businesses do scale back, you have an opportunity to capitalize on your competitors’ absence, putting you at a significant competitive advantage.

So, now that I’ve said my piece on why you shouldn’t cut, here are the ‘whats’: five areas within your marketing budget where you should absolutely not scale back.

1. Your Website: This one’s easy. Your website is your face to the world, and the first stop on any potential client’s list. First impressions are critical. Don’t skimp here.

2. Social Media: Currently, 84% of business-to-business marketers use some form of social media. It’s big, and it’s only going to get bigger. At the risk of sounding dramatic, social media is the future of marketing. Your business needs to be there, and you need to be active. (For more insights on the future of marketing, check out this great article written by Hubspot.)

3. Email Marketing: According to a study conducted by iContact, small and midsized businesses are allocating the largest chunk of their marketing budgets to email. Why? Well, for one, 59% of marketers perceive email to be the most effective channel in generating revenue. This area is a critical component, especially in relation to your company’s social media presence and its mobile marketing efforts. Growing your lists and accurately, effectively segmenting subscribers goes a long way in helping your company deliver targeted messages to the right audience.

4. Mobile: As you’ve likely noticed, everyone has a smart phone these days. Last year, mobile ad spending rose by 62% , reaching $6.4 billion. This area is growing faster than almost any other digital effort. If you want to make sure you’re reaching customers in today’s constantly connected culture, mobile marketing is key.

5. Analytics: It’s all about the numbers. Research shows that spending on marketing analytics is expected to increase 60% by 2015. If you’re not collecting and analyzing the data, you’re not getting the most out of your marketing dollars. And you’re likely missing out on a ton of opportunities.

So, there you have it. Those are our thoughts on how to get the most bang for your buck, even in tough times. What do you think? What areas are on your own not-to-cut list? Let us know in the comments.

By: Bethany Nguyen