CAN EMAIL MARKETING REALLY WORK?
This is an updated version of a blog I published 8 years ago. I think it’s as relevant today as it was back then.
One of the challenges of voiceover work is finding new customers. Most voice talents are in business for themselves and have to do it all: production, administration, marketing, even housekeeping. Hmmm… sounds like any other small business!
There are a number of ways that many of us voice talents seek new business. There are agents, production houses, referrals, Pay-to-Play sites, free listing sites, networking, phone soliciting, social media connections, direct mail, web banners, text ads, magazine ads, Ebay, Craigslist… oh, and email.
A lot has been written about emailing as a marketing strategy. There are whole companies built up around those efforts. Does it work?
Well, yes…and no. It’s pretty much like any other marketing strategy. Done right, yes it works. Done wrong it can work against you!
But it must work to an extent, right? I mean look at all those emails you get in your inbox! Obviously it’s working or they wouldn’t be doing it. It’s gotta be a law of percentages thing – send out enough emails and you’re bound to get some work, yes?
Maybe you guessed, I am not a fan of mass emailing. Generally if I get an email that is not addressed directly to me, I don’t read it (unless the subject matter is so compelling that I can’t help myself, or it contains the words “naked” and “jello”).
I don’t use email lists for marketing. Ever. I don’t even save a list of email addresses that I send out. Every email is individually researched, targeted and sent. That’s just me. I know some people buy lists and send individual emails, and I don’t think they’re wrong for doing so. But I prefer to research a little about a potential client before I send them my info, so I tie the two efforts together.
Now, sometimes the only email address I can find on a potential client’s website is Info@… or I have to leave a message on a contact form, but that hardly qualifies as having put them on a list.
For the purposes of our marketing discussion I would say that anytime you put multiple email addresses in your “To:” box, that’s spam. And everyone is irritably sensitive to spam.
The truth is if you get an email that you didn’t want, don’t you sort of think of it as spam? It’s just the nature of the beast, I guess. But I disagree with the concept that just because something is unsolicited it’s spam. Especially if it’s a business seeking a business opportunity with another business! That’s called marketing. And that also is the nature of the beast.
The way I look at it, an email inquiring about a business opportunity is no more illegitimate than a door-to-door salesman (although even that’s illegal in some communities). My point is there is nothing wrong with a legitimate email offering your services anymore than there is anything wrong with legitimate snail mail making a legitimate offering.
But HOW you make the offer is critical. So, here are 5 things to keep in mind when you use email as part of your marketing strategy:
1. Send an initial inquiry to see if the company accepts voiceover demos (or whatever you are offering), and to whom such information should be sent. I always include a line in that email that introduces me as a bilingual voice talent, fluent in English and Spanish. The reason I do that is so that if there is a need for what I have to offer, it may get the right person’s attention right away.
2. Now, if the general rule of thumb applies, you are going to get only about a 2 or 3% response. I have gotten as much as 10% in certain business categories that I’ve marketed. But that open door to those who have responded essentially pre-qualifies your reason for following up with the right person.
3. Never send an attachment by email unless you’ve been given permission to do so. Don’t do it. It makes you look like you don’t care that you’ve clogged up someone’s inbox. And it may well be intercepted and deleted by the recipient’s server, meaning they’ll never even see your email! I would suggest that if you are using the email to refer them to a demo, put a link in the email, or something they can copy and paste to access the demo. I do both. Some servers will kill links, so go ahead and add the link address as a precaution.
4. Keep your email simple, informative, and short. Just tell them who you are, what you do, a quick reason for why they may be interested in you, and how they can follow up with you or learn more about you. That’s it.
Ron Green was the most successful salesman I ever knew. He could sell anything. And pretty much did. I asked him once why he was such a good salesman. He laughed and explained that he was trained to keep selling until the customer said yes or no. But learned to stop selling when the customer said “More, please.”
5. Connect with the customer.
I have a guy who trims my trees. I met him because he came around once a year, dropped off a flyer to let people know that he would be in the neighborhood the following month if they needed him. It was a very well done flyer that explained what he did, how to get in touch with him, and of course, in that flyer an offer for a free estimate the following week (“please call right away to let me know what time would be best for me to drop by”). He’s one of the busiest tree trimmers around.
I asked him one day how he came up with his little marketing strategy. He said, “Well, everyone else uses flyers to get business. I use ‘em to get appointments for free estimates. I figure no one buys off a flyer. They buy from a person.”
The fact is I rarely have a client hire me right from a marketing piece I’ve sent out. The marketing piece is just a door bell. If they open the door, then I can connect with the client, start building a relationship, figure out if I really am able to help them out, and determine how I should continue with that opportunity. In some cases they want to hear from me every two or three months. For some, once a year is enough. Some call me when they need me, whether it’s weekly, monthly or annually.
And one more point about connecting with your client: just because you’ve corresponded with someone by email, doesn’t give you the right to invade their space. I can’t tell you how many people I know that seem to think that because we’ve exchanged a few emails, they think I’m interested in their mail-outs. I mean, I guess they’re still sending mail-outs. I blocked them a long time ago.
Emails. I love ‘em (but not mass emails). I use ‘em all the time to go after new business. But the game is constantly changing and if you’re not on top of how your clients use email, and know what will get them to notice you in a positive light, you’re wasting your time…and theirs.