The popularity of email is staggering, with roughly 60 percent of U.S. adults surveyed saying they prefer to open email than read traditional mail, and 34 percent stating they prefer email to receiving phone calls.
To marketers like us, this is music to our ears as email is a less expensive form of b2b or b2c communication than either ground mail or long-distance telephone calls. Because it is inexpensive and simplistic, email marketing is a great way for businesses to brand their companies, reach a wider audience, and boost sales.
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Our goal for an effective email marketing campaign is to collect information about customers through an opt-in email and to create a database, because once the database is built ROI can reach upwards of 40 percent.
Opt-in and Opt-out Email Marketing
A strong email marketing campaign must take the recipient into consideration. There are many ways to setup a campaign and just as many reasons to send out an email blast. Ideally, sellers want buyers to give them permission to send out emails about promotional events, newsletters, products, etc.; this is referred to as opting-in or an opt-in recipient. These users do not expect to receive spam-mail, which is unsolicited email that does not meet the interest of the recipient.
Because spam has consistently been bothersome for consumers, businesses, and government regulators, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has developed the following guidelines for U.S. firms. Email marketing should be used only:
- To solicit current customers.
- To contact individuals (or companies) who have opted-in.
- To contact individuals who have not opted-out after being given the opportunity to do so.
- By marketers who have assurance from list brokers that names supplied conform to one or more of the above.
The goal of Phoenix Online Media is to motivate customers to opt-in, this can be accomplished in a variety of ways depending on the client, including via sweepstakes, games, promising to deliver a reward, or by offering something free. A good example of a motivational offer for opting-in is our Free 10-Point Internet Marketing Check. The goal is to receive personal information, i.e. name, email address, website address, etc., so that we can drive customized email messages promoting our services.
There are two main benefits to opt-in recipients. First, they qualify the person (or company) as showing an interest in the product. Second, when customers do sign up, we ask specific questions that profile the user so that we have a better idea of demographics, lifestyles, interests, goals, etc., which can be used to anticipate customer desires.
Another way of adding email recipients to a database is done through the use of opt-out email. This is an automatic email, or series of emails, sent to consumers in which they typically have to notify the sender to put a stop to. Setting up an email campaign such as this is commonly done by offering an email newsletter and automatically checking the box that reads “Send me product updates.” Unless the box is unchecked, the user will receive regular emails.
Email Campaign Formats
As mentioned, email marketing can be done in a variety of way, the most effective campaigns are developed around an assortment of media, discussion lists, newsletters, and publicity. Which format is best depends on the client’s goals and objectives.
Media. When an email is sent, it can be done as HTML text or as rich media, such as an image, audio message, or video. Rich media emails can be extremely effective in attracting people to click through to your website.
Discussion lists. Email lists can contain hundreds or thousands of people. Clients can add a marketing message to the bottom of each email sent out to the list, which allows them to continually send messages to a targeted group of people.
Newsletters. Clients send out monthly mass newsletters on brand-related topics. Unlike discussion lists, newsletter recipients typically do not communicate directly back to the marketer or other recipients of the email.
Publicity. News releases are distributed to recipients who want know about a client’s company’s announcements.
Strengths and Benefits of Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great customer retention tool. For many, it is a very effective form of online marketing because it is personalized and relatively inexpensive. A DMA study showed that 63 of companies surveyed said email was their most effective retention tool.
The goal of an email advertisement is to encourage the recipient to click-through to the client’s website, either from an image or text link. Researchers found that users three to ten times more likely to click-through to a website from an email message than from an Internet banner advertisement.
Distribution costs are another benefit to email marketing. The cost to send an email is not typically based on the file size, the audience, nor the message details. Whereas direct mail costs can vary and often include handling, message creation, and acquiring addresses. Low costs also play a role in testing different campaigns. Because costs to change a campaign are minimal, clients are able to test multiple messages to find the most effective ones.