In the age of Facebook posting, Twitter Tweeting, blog writing and Foursquare Specials, it’s easy to forget about the grandfather of internet marketing; Email Campaigns. Although simple in concept, Email Marketing Campaigns can be a powerful tool for any type of business if executed properly. Given the fact that email is free to send, any business owner with a bit of direction and creativity can get their email campaign off the ground in no time. However, the low costs and ease of use associated with sending email also creates a host of problems that a business will encounter. Strict consumer privacy laws as well as the fact that your target consumers may already be receiving numerous emails from your competitors on a daily basis are just a few of those obstacles.
Referred to as “the most personal advertising medium in history” by marketing guru Seth Godin, Email Marketing Campaigns have a number of notable advantages over other forms of marketing. Basically it is a cheap, environmentally-friendly version of the classic direct mail strategy. Like direct mail, a business is able to create any custom message they desire and send it directly to a specific target group. With Email Marketing though, a business is able to include hyperlinks to their websites, interactive content and animated GIF’s, all with instant, free delivery to the consumer. When looking at the various online communication tools consumers use today, email is still more widely used than Facebook, another advantage Email Marketers have.
On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages to Email Marketing Campaigns. Everyone reading this has most likely been bombarded with unwanted emails from businesses around the world trying to push their products/services in front of you. These “spammers” have given a bad name to Email Marketing by flooding consumers’ inboxes, which in-turn distracts the consumer’s attention from your business’s email. For this reason, anti-spam laws were passed in 2003 which mandate that all email marketers have permission or a pre-existing business relationship with an individual before sending them an email. This means a business must either collect email addresses from willing consumers or purchase email distribution lists if they wish to legally operate an Email Marketing Campaign.
For any business considering or currently running an Email Marketing Campaign, below are tips to make it effective:
Build a targeted mailing list to ensure those most likely to use your product/service will receive your emails. A great way to do this is to offer in-store questionnaires, suggestion drop-boxes, or even discount coupons that would allow the customer to give your business their email address as part of the process. Another method of building your target mailing list is to purchase it from a company that owns a database of email addresses that would fit your needs.
Differentiate your business’s emails from the competition. In order to do this, think outside of the box and get creative! As the subject line of your email is the only aspect that a consumer may read, make sure that it is engaging and possibly even appeals to your target on a personal level. List segmentation is a great way to accomplish this. The body of the email should further capture the interest of a potential customer either through graphics, coupons, humor, etc.
Design emails to encourage Word-Of-Mouth Advertising. By including something of value within an email, such as information, an interesting fact, or a discount, the recipient will be more likely to forward your email to their acquaintances. A great example of this is the “Family-and-Friends” coupon model that allows individuals to pass on discounts to whomever they want. According to an Experian CeetahMail’s study, “Friends-and-Family emails had 43 percent higher open rates and 29 percent higher click rates compared to bulk promotions.”
Develop a Best Practices Policy relating to your business’s email campaign to protect the company’s reputation. Reaffirm your emails are not considered SPAM and that they reflect the values of your organization. Also, monitor the number and frequency of emails sent to your mailing list to ensure they are not excessive.
Be careful, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of Social Media Marketing tools out there today. While it’s a good idea to evaluate all of the new options on the market, do not overlook the Email Marketing route which has proved successful for many.