You don't need a colossal budget to modernize your marketing program, just a few essentials
Whether you're planning an acquisition or retention campaign, whether your marketing mix includes direct mail, advertising, email marketing, newsletters, the fundamental concept behind eMarketing is that your Web site should be the hub of your marketing program. The goal is to drive traffic through your Web site so that every interaction with prospects, leads and customers can be measured, tested and tuned. Companies that have successfully modernized their marketing programs didn't start out by deploying monolithic CRM systems, but by deploying simple technologies to fulfill the essential requirements of eMarketing, such as list management, creative development, fulfillment and tracking and reporting.
Sophisticated marketing tools will manage all of these functions, and also provide strategic and tactical features including campaign templates, testing routines and workflow. But most businesses can easily get started with readily available office tools and a solid process. Here is a brief overview of the essential elements of eMarketing. For a more detailed description, read the full article from the marketing agency Cymbic.
One of the most valuable assets for any business is their house list of marketing contacts. Every company should have a well-maintained database of customers, while savvy marketers will also maintain a house list of prospects culled from various lead generation campaigns. In general, the larger your house list the more power and flexibility you'll have in targeting your campaigns effectively. Smart businesses constantly maintain a minimum threshold of current, qualified leads in their database. To manage your list effectively, you'll need to make sure you have the ability to segment the list into targeted customer groups, merge new lists into your database, purge bad data or duplicates, and import and export data for use by other programs.
Advanced marketing platforms are touted for their ability to personalize email messages, run online response surveys, and even publish Web pages through the use of pre-designed templates. The purpose of these programs is to empower non-technical marketers with the ability to run continuous campaigns without relying on a Webmaster, which is valuable. But even the most sophisticated programs won't eliminate the need for creative and technical expertise in creating all the necessary elements of your campaign. Since the goal of eMarketing is to utilize the Web's unique power for targeting content, testing offers, tracking user behavior, and refining messaging quickly and cheaply, you need to make sure you have the tools and techniques to create compelling electronic content wired correctly for sharing and collecting valuable data.
Fulfillment in eMarketing is the managing of outbound and inbound campaign traffic. It is a critical and sensitive component of your eMarketing program, and you need to have the tools and expertise to manage fulfillment professionally. Complex campaigns, including lead generation email campaigns, are typically processed by the list vendor: You deliver the creative, and they provide fulfillment. Nothing to worry about. If, however, you're sending out a newsletter or email to your house list, you may find it more effective to have access to your own tools. At minimum, you'll need a program (not your personal email application) that can send bulk, personalized messages, monitor return mail for bounced messages, and automate special handling for unsubscribes and subscription confirmations.
Tracking and Reporting
Tracking your campaign response and extracting useful reports from the data is where a lot of valuable primary market intelligence can be gathered. While sophisticated tracking tools feed real-time data directly into a database, most common tracking tools work by analyzing the log files from your Web site. If you currently receive traffic reports for your Web site, this is a basic form of tracking and reporting. For analyzing campaigns, you'll need a tool that can dig deeper into the log file data and return highly specific rather than general traffic information. As with all technologies, the tools themselves are of little value without the knowledge of how to use them effectively. You'll need the marketing expertise to design a campaign that can produce traceable and meaningful data-not to mention business results-and the engineering expertise to use technology in ways that expose traffic to your tracking tools, including cookies, source codes, and more mechanical strategies in cases where these technologies are not appropriate for your audience.
Bringing It All Together
To create a successful eMarketing program, the best approach is build your platform organically. Start with general office tools that you already have, and fill the gaps in functionality as you grow your program. This approach works because you evolve a platform based on your marketing process. Far too many companies make the mistake of treating eMarketing as a "solution"-a set of prepackaged applications they expect to plug and play-rather than a process supported by technology. Without a solid process guiding the development and use of the platform, these initiatives inevitably fail. In the long run, you'll want to consolidate your platform, but your decisions will be guided by process and experience.