I imagine a time when I’ll be telling my grandchildren about the Good Ole Days of Internet marketing. When we could just blast an offer – almost any offer – to our customer file (or even ice-cold prospect names), then sit back and watch an avalanche of orders come pouring in.
The money was absolutely amazing back then. When one of my clients e-mailed a single note to his 35,000 customers back in the mid-1990s, he raked in $12 million in less than a week!
Those huge opportunities are still out there. But you’ve got to work a little bit harder for them … and you’ve got to know what you’re doing.
The question is: “Why?” The answer is obvious: When Web-based marketing was new – and still relatively rare – just about every one of your prospects and customers read every word of every promotion sent to them.
But that’s not so anymore. Good sales messages are lost among the scores of junk messages that slither into our inboxes. Overly aggressive spam filters are not only blocking promotional e-mails that we’ve asked to receive – they’re even trashing non-commercial e-mails to and from family, friends, and clients. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The entire Internet is awash with ads. Try to get a report from Weather.Com or check the stock market on Big Charts. Pop-ups and pop-unders galore!
It was bound to happen. Since the dawn of time, every new marketing innovation to come down the pike has gone through the same 4-phase response cycle:
Phase One – Advent: Innovative businesses and marketers discover a new advertising medium or technique that proves to be far superior to traditional methods. Advertisers’ return on investment (ROI) skyrockets …
Phase Two – Proliferation: Hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of businesses and marketers discover the secret and begin using it. ROI begins to flag …
Phase Three – Saturation: The novelty wears off. Consumers, besieged by advertising messages, begin tuning out. ROI begins to decline …
Phase Four – Maturity: With its novelty spent and ROI falling, the once-vastly-superior new medium or technique eventually takes its place as an equal among many in the advertiser’s arsenal.
Today, we are clearly in Phase Three of the Internet marketing explosion.
Here are some simple ideas to boost response in these saturated days …
STEP #1. Pick the low-hanging fruit.
Establish a relationship with your customers and continue to offer them products that will help them. For these wonderful people, create an extremely low-cost, multi-step e-mail campaign: A series of short, daily blasts announcing the new product and the reasons why the customer should jump on board right away … re-announcing your new product … asking why you haven’t yet heard from them … etc.
If your prospects perceive that your e-mail messages are just crass attempts to sell them something, they might be instantly deleted. If, on the other hand, your e-mails are perceived as timely and sincere offers to help the recipient in some way, your sales message is far more likely to be read and responded to.
And so, for urgency and readership, began each e-mail with valuable information or advice related to a fast-breaking piece of news from their world. The subject line and opening copy of each blast needs to be new each day – as fresh as each day’s headlines – and reward prospects for reading the sales message.
Next, make the connection between the breaking news and your new product – and demonstrate how the product could generate huge rewards for the reader in the days ahead.
Finally, insert copy justifying the price and asking for the order.
STEP #2. Get fence-sitters to a “tipping-point” website.
While a significant group of loyal customers can be counted on to buy in response to a short e-mail, the short copy will leave at least 90% of your prospects sitting on the fence. To sell them, you’ll need longer copy – more reasons to buy now – than could be presented in a five- or six-paragraph e-mail.
One way to do this is to create an “Urgent Special Report” online through a small, cheap website. Then, maybe in the second week of your campaign, begin sending e-mails to your prospects urging them to click a link in order to read the free report immediately. You’ll find that a number of “fence-sitters” will respond.
STEP #3. Exploit other low-cost or free media.
Simply take the pages of copy from the little website you’ve created … write a new headline and opening copy … turn it into a special report … and have it inserted in the next issue of your print newsletter.
At the same time, ask your phone operators to include a pitch for the product on all in-bound calls from customers. And include an insert offering the free online report in your outbound welcome packages that new subscribers receive.
STEP #4. Show up where they least expect you.
Two weeks after the newsletter insert hits your prospects’ mailboxes, hit them up again. This time with a full direct-mail package created to promote the product, formatted as a free special report or “thank-you” bonus for loyal customers.
Anyone who hasn’t bought by this time probably hasn’t read past the headline and lead-in copy. So make sure the first three pages or so are always fresh. Beyond that, the copy stays pretty much unchanged.
STEP #5. Get tenacious.
Two weeks after the big package hits their mailboxes, stuff it into an envelope, add a one-page letter asking “Why haven’t I heard from you?” … and drop it in the mail.
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”– Milan Kundera