As the general manager of Express Business Group South Australia, Chris Thomas has sent and received his fair share of emails. And unlike other industries, in the world of franchising there are two key stakeholders that take up 100% of your time: your franchisees and your customers. So how do you determine the right amount of digital communication between these two? We asked Chris to share some of his top tips and insights to help you nail your next mail out.
Use the right tools.
Chris’s very first piece of advice was simple, set yourself up with the right tools to deliver the message.
“If you’re not already using a program like MailChimp, you need to be. These types of email programs allow you to store lists of email addresses, design email templates, manage your subscribers and most importantly, get analytics on how your email campaigns perform. If you’re sending mass communication direct from Outlook or Gmail, you have no idea who has opened it and whether or not they’ve taken the action intended. By using MailChimp you can see exactly who opened your email, how many times and what they clicked in. This gives you insights into what information your customers are interested in and what kind of subject headers get the most attention,” Chris said.
Plan your communication
In the same way that you would schedule a traditional advertising campaign throughout the year, it’s important to develop a communications calendar for your digital campaigns as well.
“To ensure we are keeping our franchisees informed and engaged, our communication is a lot more frequent with them than it is with our customer database. This is simply because once we receive a customer’s details, they are passed on to the closest franchisee who is responsible for providing them with their desired service, whether that is house cleaning or lawn mowing. While we do communicate with our customer’s after our initial interaction, it’s more important that they form a relationship with the franchisee. This is why we provide an enormous amount of support to our franchisees via business coaching, marketing assistance and regular email communication.” Chris says.
“We might only email our customer database once a month, but we communicate with our franchisees on a much more regular basis.”
Create engaging content that provides value
As we rely more and more on our smartphones, it’s easy to treat email as almost an instant messenger of sorts, sending emails of just a few words or symbols. And for most, this doesn’t present much of an issue, but for a business owner whose inbox is the hub of their business, it’s important that time spent online is used efficiently and not spent sorting out spam!
“We know how busy our franchisees are, which is why we put a great deal of effort into creating content for them that is informative, easily digestible and will add value to their business. The types of things we like to share with our franchisees includes updates on upcoming advertising campaigns, invitations to franchise meetings, we have a monthly marketing masterclass which highlights a new technique they can implement, our newsletter and case studies on franchisees excelling in their area,” Chris shares.
“On the other hand, to our customers we provide them with updates on competitions they can get involved in, new services that have recently become available or new franchisees that have started in their area, which brings me to segmentation!”
Segment the market and tailor your message for maximum effect
“There’s no point emailing all your South Australian customers and telling them that there’s a new Teeth Whitening franchisee in Sydney, that’s why segmentation is so critical for effective email communication,” Chris says.
“Segmenting is a MASSIVE part of how we communicate with our franchisees and customers. With different advertising campaigns and competitions happening across the country, you can’t deliver the same message to everyone all the time. We have a fantastic custom built CRM that allows us to segment our database with the click of a button and any good CRM such as SalesForce or BlackBaud will do the same. When you start segmenting your data, it allows for a much more authentic relationship between not only your customers but also your franchisees. You’re delivering information that is of actual geographical or demographical importance to the recipient and that goes a long way.”
Break it up with headers and sub headers, read more links and pictures
If you know you’re going to be delivering a lot of information in one go, consider breaking it up into bite size pieces, Chris says.
“Imagine if this article was just one huge block of text. You probably wouldn’t have gotten through the first 100 words. But because of the sub headers, this information is much easier to digest and you have hardly noticed that you’ve just read 1,000 words on how to write an email! You’ve got to do the same for your reader. Take them on a journey, use an interesting subject line and easy to follow sub headers so they know where the story is going to end up. Where appropriate link to other websites or articles that will provide further value and use pictures to break up the text,” Chris said.
“People enjoy reading emails that are visually pleasing. If it’s nice to look at, it’s more likely to get read all the way to the end.”