Case study: No Marketing, Please

spamOn my first day in a new job, I was told by a company Director that he wasn’t sure what I could offer.
“The thing is, our customers are accountants and they are averse to marketing.  And email marketing in particular.  It’s just spam.  They won’t be interested.  Send them a catalogue, that’s all they want.”

It’s true that many of the customers felt that they were averse to what they deemed to be marketing.  But I don’t think anyone is really averse to marketing.  If you were, you’d never pay attention to special offers in the supermarket, you wouldn’t watch a movie if you’d seen a trailer or read a review and you certainly wouldn’t be a member of a wine club.

The customers we were marketing to were, on the whole, busy people, not particularly technically savvy and saw our products as necessary but not life-changing.  So how to market to them?  Simple:

  • Keep marketing materials clear, free of ‘sales language’ and personal
  • Ensure the buying process is easy, quick and multi-channel
  • Don’t invest in design – invest in copy

Our emails were personalised – not just including the customer’s name but also the sender’s name.
The sender was the campaign manager – her details were included in the email.  Not a proxy email address and not a switchboard number – if the customer replied to the email or called the number, they would get straight through to her.

The main call to purchase directed customers to the e-commerce platform which was the most convenient and cost-effective channel for us.  However, we also provided them with other means to purchase such as calling us – and a reasonable number did.

The emails were HTML but not designed to look like campaign pieces.  HTML was used simply to add a couple of company logos and to ensure layout was attractive.  If you received the plain text version, your experience would be largely the same.

And the results?  For one of our product streams, email replaced direct mail almost entirely within just a few months.  Sales went up, costs went down.  And the Director in question never referred to our first meeting again.

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