How To Communicate With Your Managed IT Customer Base Through Email
When an unusual situation arises (such as the one the world is experiencing right now with COVID-19) communication with your customer base is incredibly important. It can even be argued that there is no way to over-communicate, as long as you continue providing valuable, relevant, and factual information to your customers (and little else).
At our MSP, I always took responsibility for mass emailing our customers on things such as outages, threats, or updates. I always wanted to make sure that we were offering just enough information to keep our customers in the loop without creating panic, scrutiny, or displeasure. The last thing you want to do is send an email that prompts more questions and now suddenly you are receiving a ton of inquiries in addition to the load that you are already managing.
Here are a few tips for finding this balance and how to go about conducting such communication:
Determine Who Should Receive Your Message
While keeping every single one of your customers and their end-users informed sounds great, not every customer wants their users to necessarily be informed at certain times. They may want to deliver information their own way, through their own chain of internal communication.
You should ideally have your list segmented into three different categories; Decision Makers, End Users, and Accounts Payable. Some users will be part of multiple segments, but this will allow you to send emails to only the individuals that need to be included based on the topic. For example, if you are announcing an update to your payment policy or how you can accept payments, you should send this to the Decision Makers and Accounts Payable segment. If you are sending out Zoom or Teams best practices to help customers with their COVID-19 response, you would likely include all three segments.
Export, Format, and Segment Your PSA Data
Depending on which Professional Service Automation tool you use, the process to export your contact list will differ. A quick search of their knowledge base for “contact list” should guide you in the right direction. Ultimately, you need a minimum of the contact’s First Name, Last Name, Email Address, and Company Name in .CSV format.
If it is difficult to determine who the Decision Makers and Accounts Payable contacts are from your list, try cross-checking this with other data from Quickbooks or your bookkeeping software. It is likely that this information exists in whatever system you use to distribute quotes, mail invoices or accept payments, so try turning over a few stones before you commit to segmenting manually.
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Upload Data To an Email Service Provider (ESP)
Once you have your data, upload your list to an email platform such as Mailchimp. If you do not already have this in place, you will likely be able to set up a free account. Mailchimp’s free plan allows for 2,000 contacts, so if your list is that size or lower, you should be able to send out your first communications at no cost.
Once you have your account opened and your list uploaded, be sure to follow the ESP’s best practices for deliver-ability. This may include authenticating your domain to remove the “via” or “behalf-of” that the platform uses by default. Most platforms will walk you through this step-by-step, making it a very simple process.
Use a Familiar “From” and “Reply” Address
To increase the amount of opens you receive, use a “From” and “Reply” address on your email that is familiar to the recipients. This may be a department at your company or even an individual that is generally customer facing. Some ESPs even allow you to do this dynamically, in which case sending this from each Customer’s Account Manager would be a great idea.
If you are using an individual’s identity in your “From” address. you should also reflect this in the signature of the email. This would require more dynamic fields and additional data fields in your list, but would increase the deliver-ability and response. It will be worth it to use these tactics when you are looking for a personal touch.
Keep Your Message Short and to the Point
Even though I have a habit of writing long-winded articles, I generally like to keep my email announcements short and to the point. This makes it easier for the person to consume the content and generally makes them easier to produce. Most announcement will have an urgency to them, so taking a long time to perfect an email is probably worse than just getting out a simple communication in a timely manner.
If you are going to address multiple points in a single email, be sure to create new lines for each. We have found that spacing of the content has a definite impact on how it is consumed. If all of your text is jumbled into one paragraph, it just looks more difficult to read than several spaced lines of one or two sentences each.
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End On A Very Clear Call-To-Action
If your email requires some kind of action, always isolate this information at the bottom of your (short) email and make it the last thing the recipient reads. This way they are not confused (or forget) what they are supposed to do next when they are finished reading.
We have even been A/B testing the inclusion of a CTA box at the top of our emails. This box includes every link that the email contains and a short description on where it goes. To our surprise we found that over 52% of the clicks that occurred on such emails, did so from within this CTA box. This indicates that some recipients don’t need an explanation, they just want to know what to do and how to get there.
Include an Unsubscribe Link in the Footer
I have recently gotten this question when helping an MSP with this very task, so I thought it would be important to include. In my opinion, sending out any mass email (regardless of whether they are your customer or not), you should still follow your local authority’s SPAM guidelines.
This include an unsubscribe link and whatever other elements your country, state or province requires. Now, having said this, if an important Decision Maker at one your customers decides to unsubscribe to your communications, it is worth a personal email to them asking why. This measure is really just for the sake of following the rules, because there is little reason not to.