Here is a piece I wrote for Sales & Marketing Management. Due to deadline issues, it didn't make it into the magazine, so here it is for your reading pleasure:
Salespeople can gain more and stronger leads through e-mail correspondence by becoming aware of the trends in overall email marketing - and in getting ahead of the curve by FOLLOWING those trends with their email practices!
Email is the most revolutionary tool in marketing history, and everyone should take advantage of its flexibility, ease of execution, low cost, and trackability. Here are some guidelines to make your email more impactful - and to help you ring the cash register more often!
1. Let the customer choose
Providing customers with some level of control makes them feel as though they are in the driver's seat. For example, don't have one email newsletter - have several on different topics or "tracks" and let people select the one(s) they are most interested in.
2. Don't worry about frequency
Let the customers' requests dictate frequency. As emails become more relevant to recipients needs, the question of how frequently to email subscribers goes away. If you'll help solve my problems, get me new customers, or show me how to work smarter, I'll gladly open your emails 2-3 times a week.
3. Data Integration
Email is uniquely positioned to take existing data and elevate it to the level of relationship marketing that most marketers have only dreamed of. Amazon.com is a great example. They know what I've bought, what I like, and they regularly email me suggestions about new titles that match my buying patterns. Database marketing drives relevance. Relevance drives sales!
4. Use the Personal touch
People buy from people. Email technology provides a way to leverage this knowledge and deliver emails coming "from" real people. These emails can include pictures, personal notes based on prior engagements, working reply addresses... just like a real relationship!
5. Use your signature file smartly
Your email signature file should not only have a 'hot' (clickable) link to your website, but you also need to give people a REASON to click. Nobody is going to click on a link because they're thinking, "Wow, Joe's company has a website... wonder what it looks like." Kick your signature line up a notch and add a CUSTOM line or two based on who you're writing to. For example, when writing to a hotel industry client, add this line to the bottom of your email signature block: "Ask about 'Inn Service' our latest offering for the hospitality industry."
The idea is to use every email (both personal and automated) as a marketing vehicle, mini-teaser, or venue for generating further inquiries into your services!