How the Conversation Flows (Benefits of Conversational Marketing)

Conversation as the primary medium for effective communication is an age-old idea. What's new now is how savvy marketers and brands are leveraging conversations to deepen consumer engagement and drive real business outcomes.

Conversational marketing is an emerging marketing channel that uses personalized, one-on-one conversations to learn about and remember client interests through automated, conversational technology.  The result is better targeted messaging that delivers higher response and conversion rates.  

If your marketing campaigns still rely exclusively on one-way channels like email (Read: Why Email Is Not Enough, Forbes, 2016), you’re missing opportunities to grow your business. 

How the Conversation Flows

Traditional marketing channels flow in one direction. When you only send emails, mail postcards, or buy online or print ads, you’re doing all the talking and learning very little.  One-way communication wouldn’t work in a relationship, and it isn’t effective marketing.

Conversational marketing uses personalized, two-way communication to identify and remember clients’ interests and deliver the information and special offers most relevant to—and desired by—them.  When you know what your clients want, you can offer discounts, special events and information in your marketing campaigns that resonate, are more likely to convert and generate more business. 

Conversational apps, or ChatBots, effectively bring the latest two-way communication channel to marketing for any size business.  They create interactions that feel like personal, uninterrupted, real conversations.

These apps or bots can identify clients’ interests in products and services—even glean their hobbies and personal preferences to deepen connections—and engage them on topics of their choice, with appropriate responses throughout the conversation. Automated conversations can progressively become more personalized, and they remember and cue interests or other information from prior interactions.  The client data collected can be used to enhance offline interactions or to segment information sent though other marketing channels.

The result:  Leads from conversational channels tend to convert at higher rates than other digital marketing because it is the truest permission-based marketing.  Clients choose to engage in bi-directional interaction, and these interactions build long-term value through stronger, longer, more loyal relationshipsall essential for business growth.

How important is conversational marketing and the associated technology?  It's clearly worth investigating for any small- to medium-sized business that wants to deepen relationships to fast track growth.

And it's no passing fad.  At Microsoft’s 2016 annual developers event, it announced a number of initiatives to position itself as ready to ride the bot revolution, focusing on conversation as among its next important technology priorities.  Read more about "Conversation as the new UI: Microsoft makes its chatbot pitch at Build 2016" on Marketing Land.




Convenience + Control = Good Marketing & Happy Contacts

So you've got a creative and compelling message, unbeatable discount, and a fertile list of targets who want to hear from you. It's a very good start for a successful marketing campaign.  But in this online, off-line and mobile world, it isn't quite enough.

For your marketing to really work, you have to be where your targets are.  And today, that’s everywhere.  Only multi-channel marketing allows you to be everywhere, and gives your contacts the choices they want.  (Check out this infographic on 8 Benefits of Multi-Channel Digital Marketing on Business 2 Community.)

Multiple Channels Offer Convenience—and Control

Your contacts value control over how they interact with you. They want to make appointments and get information on their terms and schedules.  They aren’t always available during your business hours.  Your marketing should provide multiple ways to make appointments or ask questions, and offer easy links to do so from your email and landing pages, as well as through texting and mobile apps on smartphones.

People also have communication preferences, so you’ll reach the most targets—at the most opportune times—when you’re not dependent on a single channel.

For Danville, California-based Blackhawk Plastic Surgery, a multi-channel marketing approach is fueling growth by capturing the attention—and wallets—of its contacts.

Since early 2016, the practice has been executing integrated campaigns through six digital channels: branded email, text messages, push notifications, targeted Facebook ads, web landing pages and automated conversational content on a smart phone app.

“With multiple channels, we’re reaching people we may have missed with just email,” says Megan Scott, the practice’s director of marketing. “What we’re doing has brought back people who have not been here in years, and that’s our goal.”

In less than six months, Blackhawk Plastic Surgery’s multi-channel marketing generated 460 appointment requests.

To read more about how Blackhawk Plastic Surgery is successfully reaching more patients and generating more business by offering control and convenience, click here.







Stand Back, Is There a Doctor of Marketing in the House?

How often have you sent out an email blast to your patients and had no idea how to diagnose if it generated much business for your practice?  Or if this month's email blast worked better than some other months?  Sure, you can see open rates, but what does that mean?  Do they give you an idea of how many consultations were generated?  

Using marketing software tools or traditional marketing firms and consultants will never find a cure to the problems that plague patient marketing for aesthetic healthcare practices.  Why?  Because no one can easily give you this kind of visibility.  

So, let's say you have a 30 percent open rate on the last email blast you sent to your patients.  Fantastic, this is higher than the industry average.

But what does this mean to you and your practice?   How does this translate into what business was generated from your patient marketing efforts?   It doesn't.  It mostly means that 70 percent of the patients you were trying to reach with your promotion or special or message did not see it.  So, here are two questions for you:

  1. Beyond email, what other digital channels are you using to directly reach (target) your patients?  Do you use texting, web, targeted social, conversational, others?   For most aesthetic healthcare practices, we hear their patient marketing or outreach is solely done through email.   And some think their Facebook business page or social ads are reaching their patients, but they aren't.  These forms of marketing are not targeted.  They are reaching everyone in the universe.
  2. What are you doing to track the number of consults generated from your patient marketing?  Do you manually track where inbound calls or requests for care are coming from?  That is lots of work.  For most aesthetic healthcare practices, we hear that they do not have a great way to track how many leads or consultations are generated from their patient marketing.

So, if you are like most aesthetic healthcare practices, this means you are sending out email blasts to your patients each month, but you have no visibility into how much business is generated.   And equally challenging, you are not reaching the vast majority of your patients with your patient marketing efforts.  Well, don't fret. With eRelevance, there is a cure.  

eRelevance provides aesthetic practices with a marketing service that relieves you from having to do patient marketing yourself.   It's not your core competency anyway. 

For you, we:

  1. Provide complete visibility into how many consultations are generated
  2. Reach a larger group of patients with your message, promotion, or special than email alone to generate more business

No longer will you have to guess whether your patient marketing is generating business or not.    Nor will you have to do all the work.   This is just want the Doctor ordered!



Patient Marketing Doesn't Have to Overwhelm YoU!

We hear all the time from aesthetic healthcare practices that it is overwhelming to keep up with everything going on in a busy practice AND market to their patients.  It's just too much to do!!

It makes sense.  You are trying to run a practice or see patients or schedule consultations or bill patients or confirm consultations or order supplies or answer the phones and the list goes on and on ... and then when you have a break from all that, you are supposed to sit down and think about what you want to promote and to whom.  Plus, come up with a creative way to do it.  Whew, it is like you are downshifting and switching gears constantly!

If that isn't enough, you then have to use some marketing software tool that you hardly understand to load or update or refresh or clean up the patient database you are going to market to; define the email campaign you want to run; create the email content with some creative flare; and then send the email out.   After all is said and done, this was a stressful two- to three-hour exercise over the course of one or more days to send out a single email to your patients.   And to make matters worse, you then wait for the phone to ring with no real way of knowing if that stressful exercise of sending out a monthly email is helping to drive more business into your practice.

t's no wonder most practices only do this once per month and find it overwhelming.  

After all, your core competency is taking care of your patients, not digital marketing.    So, don't fear, there is a cure for this overwhelming and mostly ineffective approach to patient marketing. 

Outsource it.

But, NOT to a traditional marketing agency, firm, or consultant that is slow and expensive.  These outsourced alternatives are essentially using many of the same software marketing tools that you were and just charging you a lot to do so.  Outsource this work to eRelevance, a technology-enabled marketing automation service.   eRelevance provides you with a high-quality, affordable, and responsive alternative to patient marketing.

How we do this is simple.  We leverage advanced technology to automate much of the creative and client services work that is typically done manually by traditional agencies, firms, and consultants.  eRelevance's marketing experts, following marketing best practices, market to your patients via six different branded digital channels (not just email) to reach far more patients per campaign than just email would.  And so, we can pass great savings onto you while generating three to ten times more leads than if you tired to market to your patients yourself.

Oh, and did I mention we run multi-channel campaigns for you within two to three business days.

There is no reason for your patient marketing to be overwhelming or ineffective any longer!



Don't be Dr. Doeverything!

So often we hear that aesthetic practices (plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and med spas) are doing their own marketing to their patients to try to generate more business.   Do you wonder why they do this?  The reason is simple.  It is easy to access and use an email marketing tool to send out bulk emails to patients.  But, like any profession, marketing isn't that simple.  Why?

I will answer that question with a collection of questions, such as:

  1. Does the staff understand email marketing best practices related to subject line length, email content length, number of images, sending frequency, send date/time, etc. and are they following them?  
  2. Does the staff understand that email is only one of many digital channels that should be used to reach their patients?  
  3. Does the staff know how much business (or leads) they are generating from their email marketing?
  4. Does the staff know what promotions or messages worked best when directed at certain patients?
  5. Does the staff segment their patients and send out targeted, relevant emails to each segment?

In the end, most practices we speak to do not know the answers to the questions above.  Yet, they continue to do their own marketing to their most valuable asset--their patients.  And, they wonder why their email marketing is not very effective.   

The answer is simple.   Marketing is not generally the core competency of aesthetic businesses; It's taking care of patients.   You would never rely on a marketing professional to do a breast augmentation, would you?  Of course not.  So, why do you trust healthcare professionals to do something as critical as market to your patients?  Your best business comes from the patients you know, but you have to market to them correctly.

If you are serious about growing your business by increasing the lifetime value of your patients, you should hire marketing experts that understand and follow marketing best practices.  Moreover,  they should leverage technology that: 1) connects to your patients through four to five digital channels, 2) shows you quantifiable results, and 3) provides you with strategic insight as to how to improve your marketing efforts.   




Great Doctors Deserve Great Marketing

We have spoken to thousands of plastic surgeons, dermatologists and med spa owners, and many have told us they struggle to effectively market to their existing patients to generate more revenue.

Their conclusion:  There must not be anymore business to be found from our patients, so we better find new patients.  And off they go, spending a fortune on print ads, radio ads, PPC, SEO, Web, social, and more ...only to be disappointed again.

Sound familiar?

The truth is, it was the wrong diagnosis.   There is constantly business available from existing patients, if you do great marketing!  What does that mean?   You need marketing experts who adhere to digital marketing best practices to market to your patients in a multi-channel way, with communication that resonates with your patients.

Unfortunately, what we hear is that these aesthetic businesses have someone on their staff assigned to running email (ONLY) campaigns once a month--staff that does not have the time nor marketing expertise to be effective at engaging patients outside the point of care.

It begs the question:  Would you have a marketing expert perform a facelift on you?  Of course not.  Then why would you have an aesthetician, nurse, office manager or practice manager, who is not skilled in marketing, try to engage your patients?  Hopefully, not just because they want to.   Your patients are your most valuable asset, and the goal of great marketing is to connect with the target audience to increase the lifetime value of your patients.

Until now, aesthetic businesses have had only two choices:  Hire expensive and slow marketing consultants to market to their patients or have their staff use marketing software tools and take on the marketing work themselves.  Now, there is a new alternative.

With eRelevance,  you can outsource the internal marketing to your patients to us.  We offer an affordable, highly responsive solution that leverages proprietary technology, marketing experts following marketing best practices, and integrated multi-channel communications to surface leads from a business’ existing customers with three to ten times the effectiveness of them doing the internal marketing themselves. 

Hundreds of forward-thinking aesthetic businesses across the country have outsourced their internal marketing to eRelevance.  Because great doctors deserve great marketing.



Give 'em an Offer

If you think you can't afford to include economic offers in your emails, consider this:

The primary reason people sign up for marketing emails is to receive discounts and promotions, according to a recent 2016 survey of 1,251 U.S. consumers between 14 and 67 years old by Adestra.

Some 85 percent of respondents said savings is the most important reason they opt into email lists. Less than half of the respondents said they sign up to get product and service updates; And a handful of other reasons given don't come close to discounts as a motivator for email sign-up.

According to other data from Adestra, 80 percent of consumers (across all demographics) actually unsubscribe from emails they no longer wish to receive.  That means to avoid an exodus from your list, you've got to give your contacts what they want.

Your contacts are arguably your most valuable business asset.  Losing the opportunity to regularly communicate with them because they aren't interested in what you're sending may be costing you much more than a discount.

What you offer is also important, according to the Adestra data.  The type of discount people most want in marketing emails is a percentage off (35 percent say they prefer these most), followed by free shipping, free trials and dollar-off promotions. For 19- to 34-year-olds, percentage-off discounts are even more compelling (87 percent).

The better you are at understanding what your customers want, and giving it to them, the more successful--and cost-effective--your marketing will be.  So test frequently, and let your own results drive your marketing campaigns.  It pays--big--to get it right.

Still not convinced?  Hold on to your coffee cup and read these stats:

  • 76 percent of consumers are willing to trade personal information for relevant offers (Forbes)
  • 40 percent of consumers would unsubscribe from a brand's marketing if the coupons/incentives were not good enough (Vibes)  
  • 96 percent of consumers use discount offers for purchases (RetailMeNot)
  • 90 percent of affluent shoppers use coupons for discounts (Valassis)
  • 73 percent of US online women have printed a digital discount/coupon (
  • 59 percent of consumers say that out of all the different types of promotions a brand can offer, digital discounts still influence them the most (RetailMeNot)
  • 68 percent of consumers always use deals, promotions and coupons, and the rest do sometimes  (Blackhawk Engagement)



What's a Marketing Automation Service Anyway?

For a long time, marketing automation software tools have catered to marketers in all size businesses.  These tools are designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. The use of these platform is to streamline organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions.  Ultimately, Marketing Automation is a platform that marketers use to plan, coordinate, manage and measure all of their marketing campaigns, both online and offline.  However, with any software tool, someone has to learn them, configure them, use them, etc.   And while marketing automation tools may indeed automate certain repetitive tasks related to marketing, it still requires businesses and their marketers to do the work.

In a recent survey, the reality is, a lot of user aren’t experiencing a great return from their marketing automation software tools. Industry expert, David Raab says 70% of marketers are either unhappy or only marginally happy with their marketing automation platforms.  One of the big reasons is the software is too hard to learn and use.  See more: .

So, what is a Marketing Automation Service?

A Marketing Automation Service is a marketing service provided to businesses to replace the efforts required (eliminate work) to market on multiple channels (email, text, targeted social, web, and others).  This is with marketing experts and account managers leveraging a multi-tenant marketing automation platform to automate/streamline the planning, coordination, content creation, execution, management, measurement, and analysis of all campaigns run for a business.  Unlike marketing automation software that is used by marketers for their own marketing needs, multi-tenant marketing automation platform is used by a marketing automation service company, such as eRelevance, and more specifically, its marketers, account managers, data scientists, and others to provide a marketing service to its customers.

A Marketing Automation Service allows a business to do all the marketing they wanted to do with marketing automation software, without having to do the work.  However, a Marketing Automation Service goes well beyond this.   With campaign execution and consumer engagement data across all customers, a Marketing Automation Service is able to provide it's customers unparalleled insight and advice leveraging advanced analytics to deliver optimal results.



Let’s Talk: So What's Conversational Marketing and Why Should You Care?

Conversation is the highest form of communication. When you need to feel understood, you talk. And when you want to build a relationship, you listen. Two-way discourse is absolutely necessary for building healthy relationships, both with people and with businesses.

But when you communicate with your customers through your marketing campaigns, are you listening to your customers or just talking at them?

Most of the marketing channels you probably use work in one direction. If you send emails or advertise, you are simply pushing your message at your target audience. Such channels do not allow your prospects and customers to communicate back to you. In a sense, you are doing all the talking. Truly effective marketing should involve listening, and conversational marketing is making that possible.

Conversational Marketing Drives Higher Conversions

Conversational marketing is an emerging marketing channel that uses personalized 1-on-1 automated conversations to learn about and remember customers’ interests.

Think of the last time you asked a sales clerk for help in a store. Did he or she ignore your question and instead tell you about their current sale? Hopefully not. A good sales clerk will listen to your questions and give you thoughtful assistance – and perhaps remember your preferences the next time you walk through the door. Not only does this type of customer service build brand loyalty, it helps drive sales because it is meeting your needs. Conversational marketing mimics such age-old customer interactions in the digital world and at scale.

At eRelevance, we have run conversational marketing for our customers since 2013 using our proprietary TalkWithMe automated conversation channel. TalkWithMe finds out what customers would like to talk about whether it be products, services, or even hobbies and engages them on those topics, responding appropriately throughout the conversation. These automated conversations progressively become more personalized as TalkWithMe gathers and remembers customer interests from prior interactions.

We have found that our automated conversations are a powerful tool for nurturing leads and building brand loyalty. Leads from our conversational channel tend to convert at higher rates than any other digital channel, usually around 40%, because it is the truest form of permission based marketing. Consumers chose to engage in bi-directional interaction where they essentially tell us and our customers what products and services they are interested in buying. Just as important, conversational marketing builds long term value for a business as it helps build relationships with customers. In the end, conversational marketing allows you to listen to all of your customers and responds to their needs and desires.

A Multi-Channel Approach

Conversional marketing cannot, however, replace other marketing channels. No single channel can ever reach all of your audience. Rather, conversational marketing should supplement and reinforce your other digital marketing efforts.

At eRelevance, we run conversational marketing in two mobile channels: TalkWithMe SMS and TalkWithMe app. Yet we still run integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns that use other channels like email, targeted social, and others to mine value from our customers’ existing customers. We systematically nurture leads with each campaign over multiple cycles and digital channels, repeatedly and regularly without over communicating. The result is that we build our customers’ relationships with their customers while also consistently driving sales.

The beauty of conversational marketing is that it fits well into a traditional multi-channel digital marketing campaign while also serving as a line of communication that is always open to customers. With each of our campaign cycles, we invite customers into a conversation by stimulating with emails, texts and push notifications; however, a customer can also begin a conversation with TalkWithMe any time.

The promise of conversational marketing is huge. We see conversations becoming a part of almost every marketing channel as customers come to expect brands to listen to them and remember their preferences. The future of marketing will involve much more listening than talking.



Conversational Marketing, as Part of an Integrated Multi-channel Approach, Shows Great Promise

Unlike others that talk about integrated multi-channel marketing, we actually do it at eRelevance.   As part of our marketing automation service, each campaign we run for our customers includes stimulation from email, texting, web, targeted social, phone, and conversational.  Gartner Research predicted that by 2013, lead management campaigns integrating 4 or more digital channels will outperform single- or dual-channel campaigns by 300%.  We have proven this!  We are generating 3 to 10 times more leads than our customers then they were when doing the direct marketing themselves.  And even more compelling is that we are able to setup and run a campaign in less than 1 hour to deliver near immediate results.  When others talk about integrated marketing (consultants or analysts), they are describing managing all the people, processes, and technologies across the marketing ecosystem – but the truth is that much of this is done manually.  This is why consultants and firms are so slow and expensive.   What we do at eRelevance is run AUTOMATED multi-channel marketing campaigns that eliminate much of the process, people effort, and technologies that are traditionally part of today's marketing efforts.

We have learned that most organizations rely mostly on email and (some) social to stimulate their contacts and customers.  At eRelevance, we have invented a new digital channel (as part of our integrated approach) that engages contacts and customers in personalized, 1-on-1 automated conversations.  This is a true form of permission-based marketing.  People chose to engage and converse in this channel.  Not only are we able to more fully profile people with great accuracy, we are able to personalize the engagement by gathering and remembering their interests and responses from prior interaction.  We are seeing that the conversational channels are consistently outperforming the other traditional digital channels (email, web, targeted social) from a lead generation and conversion basis.

Conversational marketing is becoming a reality!



Is Timing Really Everything?

When is the best time to send marketing emails?

We get the question a lot.  And the answer is both complex and simple because it depends on the preferences and habits of your targets.

Like all elements of a successful email campaign, testing when you send your emails is absolutely critical.  But you've got to begin somewhere, right?

There are reports and people making cases for nearly every day of the week and time of day, so knowing where to begin isn't easy. To help you make sense of it, we've reviewed the piles of industry data and studied the results of thousands of email campaigns we've executed for our own customers to boil it down to a few solid recommendations (considerations, really) focused on B2C small to medium-sized businesses.

Remember, consumer habits are not static, so testing once is not enough.  Keep an eye on your results and constantly tweak as you go.  The best data you can get your hands on is always your own. 

  • Time of Day. According to several studies, early morning email delivery has the lowest open rates. This may be because as we start our workdays, we want to eliminate the "clutter" in our inboxes.  At that time of day, we quickly decide what is least important and readily hit the delete key. Conversely, people are surprising active at night.  According to an Experian benchmark survey, click-thru rates increase later in the evening when we can be more generous with our time and attention. This may also apply to later in the morning, lunchtime or mid-afternoon when we're ready for a work distraction.
  • Day of Week.  Monday is generally not an ideal day to send your marketing emails.  We tend to be in a hurry to purge our inboxes after a weekend break.  Most studies show sending emails on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday yields the best results.  However, Experian's survey indicates that because overall email volume is lower on weekends, engagement is relatively high.  

Other Considerations:

People are waiting longer to open email.  In the past, we found recipients opened their email within three days.  But with increasing use of social media, the time between when an email is sent and went it's opened has increased to about five days.  That means, for time-sensitive offers or events, send your email at least five days before the event.  For our customers, we send multiple pre-event emails--beginning about two weeks prior.

Strike when the iron is hot.  Send emails on days your business is open the following day so any leads generated can be followed up on quickly. For example, if you are closed on Saturday, don't send an email on Friday evening if you can't follow up on leads until Monday. Leads can go cold during that time.

While the data is exhaustive--and often conflicting--there truly is no substitute for testing.  Remember, too, timing is not, in fact, everything.  Your list, your offer and your message are some of the other moving parts of a successful email machine.   And you (or the expert you choose to run your email campaigns) must be a vigilant monitor of results, then adjust accordingly.



Don't Try This at Work!

So, you are responsible for the marketing to your customers to generate more business, but it's not working very well. You really only have time to run an email campaign a month and your email open rates average about 15 percent; However, it is hard to quantify how much business you are generating.  To combat this, you try increasing the number of emails you send out in a month in hopes of increasing your effectiveness.  Sound familiar?   

Have you considered that if your email open rates average 15 percent, that means 85 percent of the customers you are trying to reach are not seeing what you are promoting?  In this day and age, there are many other digital ways to reach and influence your customers.   And it is important to leverage four to five digital channels because not every one of your customers will respond to the same digital channel.   In fact, Gartner Research predicted that lead management campaigns integrating four or more digital channels will outperform single- or dual-channel campaigns by 300 percent.

So, expanding the number of digital channels you use to reach your customers, such as targeted social, web, texting, conversational, is imperative to improving your marketing effectiveness.  However, the problem is that you do not have the time nor necessarily the expertise to do this.  Why?  For each channel, you would have to learn a number of new software tools, maintain a number of contact databases, build additional content, set up and run campaigns, and then study the results.

Sounds exhausting, right?  Yeah, so do not try this at work!  You'll need the help of an expert to get it right.






Systematic Communication vs. Over Communication

Email frequency can have a significant effect on email results. The concept, though, can be a thorny issue for many small- to medium-sized businesses that view the equation like this:  More emails = more chances to convert.

Wouldn't it be nice if it were as straightforward as sending more emails to generate more revenue? Unfortunately, though, there's more to it than that.

Consistent, systematic communication with contacts through multiple digital channels is absolutely critical for success. People usually require repeated exposure to a brand, message or offer before taking action.  The goal of consistency is to remain top of mind, nurture relationships and deliver value.  

But too much communication and you're likely to get these unintended results:

Unsubscribes & Spam Complaints Increase.  This is exactly what you DON'T want.

But consumer reports indicate too many emails is the No. 1 reason people opt out of email lists. According to a nationwide survey of email preferences, conducted by TechnologyAdvice, 43% of respondents said they would like businesses to email them less frequently.

Open & Click-thru Rates Drop.  Translation:  Disengagement. Over-communicate and the people you want most to hear you stop listening. You'll see this in declining open and click-thru rates and eventually on your bottom line.  

Case Study:

We have tracked numerous cases of declining leads from over communication, here's the result from one of our medical spa customers that recently tested the effects of email frequency on its campaign effectiveness:

By increasing email frequency by 150% (from four per month to ten per month), the percentage of leads generated (appointment requests in this case) decreased by 30%.


While we recommend testing to know what works best for your particular contacts, we find that once a week is generally a best practice and certainly a good place to start.  We also find that people don't like change. Establish a regular schedule and stick to it.  Don't email three times on one day and then blast them irregularly.

Effective email communication must deliver value in the minds of recipients to drive action--that's the one fail-safe rule for any winning email strategy.



How Many Is Too Many & Other Best Practices for Images in Email

So what's the magic formula for images in email?

It's a question we get often, and the answer is simple.  And not so simple.

Generally, "fewer is better" is a good rule.  Studies show the more images in an email, the higher the chance the recipient will not take action. 

When it comes to email effectiveness, the trick is to use images to turn up performance, not detract from it.  

To do that, the first important lesson is this: Best practices for email and digital marketing are not the same as print.  There are usability limitations with email, and as a result, we have to apply images differently in an email campaign than a print campaign.  Here are important considerations and best practices for images that will amp up your email effectiveness:

 Images are often blocked by email systems and users.  Gmail, for example, defaults to turning email images off.  So,  to see images, users have to download them, which they often don't do.  In fact, nearly half of Gmail users have images turned off.

If you're relying on a picture or graphic to convey your message, many of your intended targets will likely never see it. Emails should be designed to properly deliver the intended message without relying on images. 

Trapped messages are a mistake.  A common mistake in email marketing is the use of images that have text embedded in them. If the image is blocked, the recipient will not see your message. At eRelevance we use a "no text embedded on images" best practice.

Images can send your email to the spam folder.  Overuse of images and certain other image-related triggers can mean your emails hit the spam folder instead of the inbox. If you're seeing a deliverability problem with your emails, consider removing some of the images.

Don't send one big image to be downloaded.  How many times have you opened an email and the entire message was a blank screen asking you to download an image? That single image may be visually amazing. It may be an exact replica of a beautiful print campaign that has worked like a magical charm for you.  None of that matters, though, if no one sees the image in the email.  

Thirty percent is a good rule. A good rule to follow when designing an email template is to only use about thirty percent of your available space for images. A smart design team can use even less than that and still make email images effective. However, thirty percent means you'll still have enough images to entice users but you won't be in danger of either creating spam problems or presenting large, blank, useless emails to people who don't use email images.

Remember, the important thing to keep in mind is that email neither operates like a print collateral piece nor like a pure webpage. It has usability and functionality limitations that require design adaptations.  Understanding and working within those limitations will produce the most important kind of email: email that works.





Are You Wasting Your Most Valuable Asset?


If you're spending all (or even most) of your marketing budget on external marketing to attract new clients, you're missing an important revenue opportunity.  And it's costing you more than you may think.

Existing client relationships are your most valuable business asset, and while attracting new business should always be a component of your overall marketing strategy, you simply can't afford to ignore the clients you have today.  In fact, they arguably deserve most of your attention.

Here's why:

When you gain a client through external marketing but lose one you already had, you end up with the same number of clients.  But that's not the whole story.  When you lose a client, you lower your margin because it costs much more to acquire a new client than to keep an existing one.

So, staying even—by adding one new client to offset every one who goes away—is actually costing you profit through increased marketing costs. 

Not convinced?  Here are a few statistics that make it hard to argue against investing in a marketing strategy focused on the contacts you already have:

  • 80 percent of future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing clients--Gartner Group
  • It’s 50 percent easier to sell to existing clients than to new ones–-Marketing Metrics
  • Existing clients convert at 60 to 70 percent, compared to new prospects at 5 to 20 percent–Marketing Metrics
  • Repeat clients spend 33 percent more compared to new ones–
  • Boosting client retention by 5 percent can raise profits by 75 percent–-Bain and Company
  • A 10 percent rise in customer retention yields a 30 percent increase in the value of the company--Bain and Company

Get started and see results quickly.  eRelevance provides small- to medium-sized businesses with an affordable and highly responsive marketing automation service to drive more revenue from existing contacts.  And unlike the alternatives, we quantify the value we deliver with nearly immediate return on investment.






Why Demand Gen Marketing Firms Cost So Much

Let's say you're interested in finding more business from your existing customers and you do not want to do the work yourself.  So, you turn to a demand gen firm or consultant.

If you engage a traditional demand gen firm (or consultant) to connect to your customers using an integrated marketing campaign, expect it to take longer than you thought and come with a hefty price tag!  Why?  Because the only way a traditional demand gen firm (or consultant) can do this for you is by using a variety of different marketing software tools.

What do I mean?  Well, let's take a simple case where you were trying to reach your customers via email, texting, and targeted social (Facebook).  And each digital channel takes your customers to one or more web landing page(s).

Ignoring whether the demand gen firm (or consultant) is using marketing software tools it has licensed or they have access to yours, at a high level, they would have to:

Use a web landing page creation tool (Joomla, WordPress, etc.):

  1. Create one or more web landing pages that could be tracked by Google Analytics or some other analytics tool
  2. Test the web pages, etc.

Use an email marketing tool (MailChimp, ConstantContact, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, etc.):

  1. Load a database with your customer's email addresses, cleanse the database, and maybe even augment it
  2. Create your email content (including links to web landing pages)
  3. Setup the campaign - who to target, when to run it, etc.
  4. Run the campaign and gather the stats

Use a text marketing tool (SlickText, Twilio, Plivo, etc.):

  1. Load a database with your customer's cell phone numbers, cleanse the database, and maybe even augment it
  2. Create your text content (including links to web landing pages)
  3. Set up the campaign - who to target, when to run it, etc.
  4. Run the campaign and gather the stats

Use Facebook Ads Manager:

  1. Set up a Facebook Ads account (if it doesn't exist)
  2. Provide Facebook Ads Manager with a list of customer email addresses
  3. Create your Facebook ad (referencing a web landing page)
  4. Setup the campaign
  5. Run the campaign and gather the stats

If this was not enough, they would also have to use Google Analytics to gather stats relating to the web landing pages. Lastly, they would use Word or Excel (or something else) to pull together all the stats into a single place to report to you on the effectiveness (clicks, opens, impressions, etc.) of this single marketing campaign that used 3 digital channels to reach your customers.   And no where in this report will you know how many leads or how much business you generated.

For a traditional marketing demand gen firm (or consultant),  to run this integrated marketing campaign for you requires expertise across a variety of marketing software tools and a whole lot of manual effort.  This is why it takes more time than expected and comes with a hefty price tag!

Unlike the traditional demand gen firms, at eRelevance, we have developed proprietary technology that automates the process described above; dramatically lowering the time it takes to execute an integrated marketing campaign.  And, lowers the price tag a great deal too!



Lots of Marketing Technologies. Time for a Technology-enabled Marketing Automation Service

3,784 vendors have created marketing tools for marketeers and businesses to do their own marketing outreach (and more).  The top 5 largest categories, by number of solutions included, are:

  • Sales Automation, Enablement & Intelligence (220)
  • Social Media Marketing & Monitoring (186)
  • Display & Programmatic Advertising (180)
  • Marketing Automation & Campaign/Lead Management (161)
  • Content Marketing (160)

These tools require organizations and people that are skilled in marketing, data management, and the tools themselves.  For many using these tools, this is not the case.  So, frustrations run high because the tools are challenging to use, the effort is more than expected,  and the results are not as hoped for.  And yet, every year more and more marketing tools are created and/or enhanced.

Time for a new approach.  At eRelevance, we leverage proprietary marketing technology, marketing experts who follow marketing best practices, and integrated multi-channel campaigns to provide a world-class Marketing Automation Service.  We dramatically improve the performance of marketing efforts for businesses while eliminating work for them.  All at a price that others can't compete with! 



Clicks vs. Leads

It's a simple concept.

For a business to deliver real value, you have to know your customers and what's important to them. That's why regular, informal conversations with the people who run the small- to medium-sized businesses we serve are an essential part of what we do every day.

We talk to customers about their success, challenges, the ways in which our marketing automation service is providing value, and where we can enhance our value to them.  We're grateful for the blunt honesty in these conversations.  Sometimes, even as marketing experts, we find it's customers who best convey what we do well.

Dr. Murray Riggins is one of those customers.  Recently he had this to say about why eRelevance works for his practice:

"I replaced another marketing service that wasn't delivering results with eRelevance. I let them go because they were focused on "clicks."  I don't care about clicks.  I care about getting more people in the office, and that's what eRelevance does."

We're building a company dedicated to results by providing world-class service.  We do this with incomparably high standards of creative work, in a responsive manner, and at a price point that's hard to beat.

As of today, we've generated more than 110 appointment request leads for Dr. Riggins over a four-month period--and thousands more for others. Learn more about Dr. Riggins and the other small to medium-sized businesses successfully using eRelevance.

When it comes to marketing automation, how do you measure results?



The Value of Internal Marketing

There are two general areas of marketing for businesses: external and internal.  External marketing is focused on finding new customers (print, radio, TV, interactive).  Internal marketing is focused on generating more business from existing customers.  Prior to eRelevance, businesses could hire expensive marketing consultants to do their internal marketing (who use various software tools) or license marketing automation software to do their own marketing. The marketing consultants can be slow and expensive because of all the manual effort required. The marketing automation software puts work on organizations and does not enforce marketing best practices.  At eRelevance, we’ve learned that small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) typically lack the marketing resource and time to effectively use today’s marketing automation tools.  

Now, the market has a new choice - an affordable, technology enabled marketing automation service.   Because we have automated so much of what is traditionally labor intensive, we deliver very high quality work in a very responsive manner, at a price point that is difficult to compete with.   And unlike others, we quantify the value that we are delivering with nearly immediate return on investment. 

Our technology-enabled marketing automation service is:

  • Eliminating the work and the need for complex software that is required today to do internal marketing (or outreach)
  • Maximizing financial investment by nurturing contacts in a consistent and systematic fashion
  • Increasing leads by replacing hap-hazard email blasts with integrated multi-channel marketing campaigns directed at targeted audiences with branded and consistent email, text, web, push, targeted social ads, and dynamic, personalized 1-on-1 conversations via mobile

Our technology-enabled marketing automation service surfaces leads for our customers with four to five times the effectiveness of them doing the internal marketing themselves. 



Six Digital Channels Beat One

No, email is not dead. 

Email remains an efficient and cost-effective channel for communicating your marketing message.

But email isn't enough.

Your patients and clients use many different platforms (from social networks to email to web) and multiple devices (from desktops to tablets to smartphones) to collect the information they need to make purchasing decisions and cut through the clutter of this always-on world.  

Getting through to your targets is not a matter of more messages.  Rather, it requires more channels. That's why an email-only approach to marketing is outdated.  

For your message to most effectively reach the greatest number of people, you have to communicate on their terms--through their preferred channels.  And particularly for medical practices, you have to do it in a way your patients and clients find meaningful and trustworthy. 

eRelevance delivers integrated campaigns through six digital channels:  branded email, text messages, push notifications, Facebook ads, web landing pages and conversational content on a smartphone app.

Because consumer preferences vary--and even regularly change by individual--data collected from thousands of marketing campaigns sent by our customers clearly show systematic communication across multiple digital channels builds relationships and generates ongoing revenue quickly.

Contact us to learn how to affordably implement an effective multi-channel marketing program to grow your internal database, without overburdening your staff or depleting your budget.