Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Serving Up Outside Ads in Your Email Campaigns

Imagine, if you will, you're 'Joe's Pie Shop'.

It's almost swimsuit season, so business could be better. Time to amp up your marketing outreach and remind customers why your pies are worth the thighs. What do you do? You turn to a targeted email campaign.

You want to reach out to customers to elicit a reaction - a click to product, information, or a customized traffic lane on your website.

After devising an extremely clever and meaningful subject line that grabs their attention, recipients open, determined to dig deeper into what this communication's all about. Then, they're greeted by ...

SERVE IT UP RIGHT! Check out fancy, forever servewear on perfectpietools.com. 

Customer: "What? You have pie AND you're offering a value-add to enhance my pie eating experience? You're the best, Joe."

Well, at least that's the preferred reaction. But the flip side is that your customers' spammy senses could start tingling - damaging your reputation and the overall effectiveness of your email campaigns. Even if you're benefiting from a financial or product trade with this partner, that short-term benefit can get old, very fast, with potential, long-term customer relationships.

The good news is that if you present outside advertisements or endorsements in the right light, mutual success (for you, your partner and above-all your customer) is easy to achieve.

Here are some common sense tips:

1. Be relevant. You're a pie shop. So, skip the ads for gas stations. Unless, of course, you're empathizing with customers about tough economic times. Notifying them of a pie sale - and sharing an ad to the cheapest gas in town (to get to your place) is thoughful. Even better: Presenting an ad for $.50 off vanilla ice cream for Joe's Pie a la mode.

2. Be honest. Why the ad, Joe? If there's any confusion about why there are ads in your emails, address it with customers head-on. "We're including these ads to help keep our pie costs low" or "We provide ads for our community partners as a service to you". However you spin or explain it, your customers will appreciate your honesty. Here's an example from the web that still holds relevance for email: Pandora.com is a successful, live music streaming website - and they're not afraid to share with customers why they need to include ads.

3. Protect your reputation. Congrats - you're hitched to your advertiser in reputation. Now that your brand is tied to another's, beware. If that partner isn't as attentive to retaining ethical marketing as you are, what they do can hurt your business.

4. Exercise moderation. Don't overdo it. Consider there are times your customer simply wants some alone time. That means one-on-one communications between you and them. Email campaigns that includes outside ties or advertisements can be perceived as anything but personal, especially when it happens frequently. Customers may even feel 'sold out'.

5. Go full circle. Cross-branding like this is also an easy way to upsell back to your own products or services. If a tool makes it easy to serve up your pie, why not offer a discount on pie plates to complete the "set"? In this way, all products on the table present a relevant, cohesive offer that makes sense to a recipient. The information evolves from pure ad form to one of a trusted adviser who offers insight based on what you know your customers want or need. How well-thought out of you, Joe!

Have a question or comment about this blog? Looking for more insight to make your email marketing the best it can be? Contact us any time. We'd love to hear from you.

Until then, have a great rest of the week!