Actionable E-mails

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Last month we looked at some of the technical, legal and infrastructure issues of e-mail marketing. Now let's put together an e-mail campaign.

Your fundamental goal is to keep the relationship with your customers alive. Yes, you may have a sale, event, or some other specific actionable item to announce, but e-mail is really a way to stay on your customers' radar screens.

Most instructions on how to run successful e-mail campaigns discuss the importance of having a specific "call to action." However, the nature of our industry and the level of passion shown by our customers for their powersports lifestyles also require you to show a little more heart.

If customers are willing to receive e-mails from you, then they probably want you to demonstrate your commitment and involvement in the lifestyle. Therefore, sending a regular conversational newsletter that contains more than just advertisements and product promotions is a great way to build a relationship with your customers.

When you do send out action- oriented e-mails, you must communicate the specific call to action. You need to do more than have a button labeled "Click here!" Sure, "Click here!" is a specific call to action, but it doesn't tell readers why they should be clicking there. You need to clarify what's in it for them. Offers like "Click here to see the new line of custom-fit cruiser seats," or "Click here to increase rear wheel horsepower on your sport bike" can satisfy a specific customer need.

You can increase the success of your "call to action" by adding a sense of urgency — i.e. making the offer available for a limited time. "Buy now," "Quantities are limited," or "Today only" may be old-fashioned but they work wonders in increasing your e-mail open rates and click-through rates. (The click-through is when a reader clicks on a link in your e-mail. Your e-mail provider should offer a series of tools or reports that will break down how many people open your e-mail and click on specific links.)

Provide a landing page for each specific call to action. It would be silly to have a call to action like "Click here to see the new XYZ600 body kits!" only to dump your readers on your home page instead. You want the links to take people exactly where they need to be.

Next up: subject lines. The subject of your e-mail needs to be catchy enough to get the attention of the recipient; yet it has to be crafted in a way to avoid the recipient's spam filter. There are a variety of spam filters out there and no sure-fire way to write a perfect subject line, but here are three key points to remember: 1) don't use all caps, 2) limit or avoid exclamation marks, and 3) lead with your subject (and make sure the body of your e-mail delivers on that subject).

Distribution Lists

While you can buy distribution lists, the most effective way is to build your own list from people that:

  • Subscribe at your website, either by manually signing up or by opting in during the checkout process when they make a purchase; or
  • Filling out a subscription card when they visit your dealership or attend one of your events.

Building and maintaining your own lists allows you to ensure your e-mail subscribers are actually interested in hearing from you.

Measure the performance of your e-mails, including open rates, unsubscribes and click-throughs. You might want to change the format, tone or subject line structure from e-mail to e-mail, and monitor the performance metrics each time so you can create a formula that works for your audience.