[Customer Relations] E-mail as Two-Way Communication

Features - Business Strategy

Tips for using your pest management firm’s messages to increase interaction with customers.

April 30, 2012
Amy E. Olivieri

Are your customers interacting with your e-mail campaigns? Yes, you can look at open and click-through rates to see if people are reading and clicking, but how do you know if your readers are truly engaged?

Good e-mail marketing (and marketing in general) means there’s a two-way communication process happening between an organization and its customers and members. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do within your e-mail campaigns that can convert them from one-way streets (where you’re just sending out information with nothing coming back in return) into two-way communication vehicles.

A Reason to Respond. One major key to making any communication channel more conversational is ensuring that your content is relatable to your audience. Target the right people with your communications, and speak to them in a genuine way to make your subscribers feel like you have their interests in mind. People tend to be dismissive with businesses that don’t relate to them, so the more relatable you are, the more likely your subscribers will be to reach out and engage with you.

Great content that is highly targeted is not always enough to generate a response, though. You have to spur subscribers by giving them a reason to respond. A few ways to do that are:

  • Raise questions. In each newsletter or within your main article, ask a question at the end that gets readers thinking and propels them to respond. For example, a PMP that publishes a top 10 list of common household pests could ask readers to share their most memorable pest encounter. Make sure to include an e-mail address or link that will make it easy for people to respond.
  • Use Q&A. Add a question-of-the-week section in your newsletter where you answer questions from customers and members. Whether the question came in over the phone, through social media or in person, use the question and your answer as content. Be sure to include a “Do you have a question?” prompt along with a way for people to send them in. If readers see others asking and getting a response, they’ll be more likely to ask their own question.
    Pest management professionals are consistently asked questions about their business. Everyone has a bug story they want to share with an “exterminator.” Adding a question-and-answer section to your e-mail campaigns is a great way to both generate content and interact with subscribers.
  • Draw on social media resources. If you’re using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla or any other social media network for your organization, include links in your e-mail to your profiles on each site and ask readers to join you there. Facebook and Twitter are built for interaction between people and organizations, so you can start the conversation in your newsletter and continue it on one or both of those networks. Businesses with Yelp profiles should ask subscribers to submit a review to the service. If you use Foursquare and Gowalla for your business, let subscribers know they can check in and learn about deals that are available to users of those services.
  • Ask for feedback. In every e-mail, make sure there is a way for people to provide feedback, even if you’re not asking a specific question. Let customers know you want to hear from them.

Final thoughts.
Of course, you need to make sure that you’re ready to handle any incoming replies, comments or feedback in a timely manner. Try to get back to people who write to you — even if you’re just sending a simple “Thank you” — within 24 hours. Taking longer than that could result in a lost opportunity.

Also, make sure to respond to the person the way he or she is expecting you to. For instance, if the person wants a phone call, call him or her. These people — your customers and members — are taking the time to interact with you, so make sure you interact with them as well.


The author is a regional development director for Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) in Houston. E-mail her at aolivieri@giemedia.com.