Four principles to improve your corporate eDM communications

Four principles to improve your corporate eDM communications.

The marketers do it, so why don’t we? Is corporate affairs underestimating the power of email?

In Brief

  • Personalising your eDM communications effectively requires some data acquisition planning, but it immediately lifts engagement
  • Think about what you’re asking recipients to do, and what your eDMs can offer them in return
  • Optimise your content by making the most of the A/B testing features in your Customer Relation Management (CRM) or Email Service Provider (ESP) platform

The ability of electronic Direct Mail (eDMs) to reach audiences directly, personally and privately is often overlooked by corporate affairs teams. They’re at odds with the marketing function, who enjoy the channel’s far superior ROI compared with all other channels. Check your personal inbox now – chances are the marketers have found a way in.

When it comes to corporate communications, eDMs have huge unrealised potential. They can encourage deeper personalised stakeholder engagement, allowing you to prime your audience as advocates within an environment which is perfect for sensitive communication. Done well, you can connect with stakeholders on matters of strategic importance in a cost-effective way.

So how do you make the most of this channel? Four foundational principles will put you on track to land in the inbox with impact.

1. Prioritise the value exchange

This insight can be applied to all communications: your audience is more likely to adopt a desired action if they are offered something in return. The value of the incentive you offer should match the level of effort required for them to take action.

Early in the eDM planning stage, consider the value exchange. You may simply want recipients to read your eDM, driving awareness of your message. In exchange, at a minimum, you should offer content which is interesting and relevant to them, or an additional resource which your audience will find useful.

Higher-level asks – ‘provide us with more data’, ‘contribute to our cause’ or ‘write to your MP’, for example – should be met with a more significant reward, such as an invitation to an exclusive webinar or event, or a free download of a helpful report.

2. Leverage eDMs’ interactive and visual elements

HTML emails (eDMs, as opposed to the plain-text emails you send personally) offer extensive creative possibilities. You need to make the most of those when you’re competing with innovatively designed marketing eDMs for your audience’s attention. Need some inspiration? Start by looking at

Beyond just looking good, an effective eDM positions relevant, easily digestible information above the fold – visible before the recipient starts scrolling – and includes distinctive imagery which immediately identifies the sender. However, while the benefits of a well-designed eDM are clear, there are two common constraints:

  1. The in-built templates available on CRM platforms are often limited in how they are customised.
  2. HTML code is handled differently on each email client and device, and on dark mode, which may result in inconsistencies in how eDMs are displayed.

To maximise the visual appeal of your eDM communications, it’s best to test your eDMs via a comprehensive testing platform like Litmus. If you want to take it to another level, consider engaging an experienced email developer to overcome these challenges.

3. Define a segmentation and personalisation approach

Knowing your audience is an important building block of any communications plan, and email allows you to tailor your communications to your audience’s needs, interests and knowledge levels. How narrowly you segment your audiences – and personalise your eDM content – is limited only by the depth of the information on them you collect.

Adding a first name to the subject line or body copy is a starting point, but you can go much further. In a grass roots advocacy campaign, you might want to reference the relevant local member of parliament for each recipient – or, if you’re fundraising, your messaging might differ depending on whether the subscriber has made a previous donation. The method of personalisation will determine the datapoints you need to collect, which informs your approach to data acquisition (collecting new subscribers) and enrichment (collecting new datapoints from existing subscribers).

When beginning or refreshing your approach to eDM communications, consider how you want to customise your message for different segments, and work backwards from there.

4. Test, learn, and test again

Part of the challenge of digital communication is taking advantage of the huge amounts of real-time performance data that each platform offers. With email, it can be relatively straightforward.

There are only a few meaningful metrics you need to take note of – namely the click rate, open rate and click-to-open rate – although there are endless variables which can impact performance. Your CRM platform will have functionality to run automated A/B tests, allowing you to isolate one of these variables, see how it affects performance and gather a learning from every send. If you record all learnings and apply them effectively, your eDMs will soon be getting more opens and clicks – keeping them out of spam folders.

Talk to us

At SEC Newgate, we see significant opportunities for eDM communications to deliver better corporate affairs engagement. We understand how to use the channel to optimise cut-through and impact, steering your contacts and subscribers towards your strategic objectives: to build and manage a database of people who value your connection.

If you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to talk to us.

Kate Fagan, Associate Partner – [email protected]

Simon Masterton, Senior Consultant – [email protected]

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