Sadly, promotional activity among merchants is not as good as it could be and as a sector we can be slow to move with the times. Customers still place orders to manufacturers by fax, and HTML emails are rarely understood.
If we don’t embrace change quickly, business can suffer. For example, the simple act of capturing email addresses can open a whole new way of reaching out to customers.
In a recent LinkedIn survey by Tony Crutcher Ltd, telesales was favoured second to external sales in the promotional mix, and after nearly 30 years in external sales and marketing we are inclined to agree. Telesales is successful, but shouldn’t be used as a standalone promotional activity.
Telesales can also be one of those promotional activities that annoy callers, so caution must always be taken. The other downside of telesales is that people who you want to reach may not be available, resulting in more cost on repeat phone calls. As anyone who has tried this method will know, phoning 1,000 people to get sales is both hard work and costly.
As an aside, it is often the case that people who are most keen on telesales never do the calling themselves.
However, telesales used in a limited way after an email promotion can work very well.
If you use an email promotion (HTML) with online software you can send out a message to 1,000 people in minutes. Within a day you will have a lot of fresh data: how many people opened the email and the number of people that didn’t, if they clicked on any links within the email and how many times they opened it.
After receiving this data the people who showed an interest need to be contacted, meaning your telesales costs come down and your conversion rate goes up.
This type of email campaign is very good as you can focus a message applicable to a certain group of people. For example, one of my builders’ merchant clients wanted to promote a new landscaping area to a group of consumers in the town where they are based, so we purchased a database and sent out an HTML raising the awareness of the new landscaping area.
Typically, if the timing is good and the message is relevant for your target audience, you can still exceed 400 people looking at your email for every 1,000 sent out.
The cost of sending out an email is between 1p and 5p with design costs for the initial advertisement of around £180. If you’re sending the same advertisement out repeatedly, the design costs shrink and you only pay for the email distribution, so it becomes even more cost-effective.
In summary, most builders’ merchants are not embracing the technology available to help their marketing spend work as effectively as possible.
Tony Crutcher is a building materials sales and marketing specialist.