Categorized | Email Marketing

Promotions: Marketing and Sales 8.14. Email Marketing

On its face, email marketing seems pretty simple: using email to promote your product, service, or company. Everyone uses email and it costs virtually nothing to send.

In practice, however, email marketing can be very complex. As a species of direct marketing, its success largely depends on how well you target your email ads and to what purpose you’re putting it.

Email marketing comes in three broad categories:

  • Loyalty and/or continuity: email can be one of the most powerful ways to market to customers you already have. Product announcements, newsletters, coupons, loyalty programs, special offers―all are ways to enhance and deepen your relationship with your existing customers.
  • Acquisition: email is mainly used for acquisition, that is, prospecting for new customers―just sidle over to your email Junk Mail inbox to see more than a fair share of examples.
  • Advertising: email sent by other companies or organizations are a good place for your advertisements which you can use to raise awareness, create intent, and generate site visits or conversions.

Properly speaking, email advertising is direct response advertising more than it is Internet advertising. Direct response advertising is based on three components:

  • The most important component is the list of recipients. A good list of highly targeted recipients will produce the results you’re looking for; a bad list just wastes your time and money. You can rent a list of email addresses someone else has compiled or you can build your own list through your customer database, order database, online offers, or other places you’ve recorded customer email addresses.
  • Nearly equal in importance, the offer drives response. The offer is what the recipient gets if they respond. The offer could be a low price on a product, a free gift, a free trial, entry into a sweepstakes, a coupon, or just the chance to buy something.
  • A very distant third component is the creative. This is the combination of copy and graphics which help to influence recipients to respond. It’s possible to overestimate the importance of creative. To work, the copy should be short, the subject line incredibly interesting and lively, and the call to action immediate.

Of the three components, the list counts for everything. Your best email marketing list is your list of current and former customers. These are people you know are interested in what you have to offer. Better yet, these are email addresses and contact information that you own. The next best list you have is the email list of people who have contacted you for some reason or another. Again, they’ve already shown interest enough to give you their email address.

After you’ve exhausted these two lists, you have to turn to rented or leased lists provided by mailing list brokers. You’ll invariably end up renting a list if you plan to use email for prospecting.

When you rent a list, you tell the broker what kind of people you think will make good prospects. The broker selects from a vast database of email contacts the email addresses that best fit your requirements. The more specific your targets, the more you’ll pay per email address. You then deliver your creative to the agency and they email it out to the email addresses selected from their database. And, no, you don’t get to see the list!

If, however, one of the prospects responds to your email, you then own that person’s email address and can put it in your database.

You don’t have to rent a list to troll for prospects. There are other ways to get email addresses.

  • Co-registration: if you’re sending out a newsletter or regular offers, you can always use a co-registration network to build a prospect list. Co-registration works a bit like banner and exit exchanges. You put up a page on your site that allows people to sign up for email offers or a newsletter. When a user signs up for this newsletter, your site’s Thank You page will include a long list of other newsletters and offer emails from a battalion of other companies. The user then scrolls through this list picking and choosing newsletters and offers to choose from. This list is being served by the co-registration service you’ve signed up with. In exchange, the co-registration service will put your newsletter or offers on an opt-in list appended to some other member’s thank you page (usually your newsletter or email will get listed six times for every one big list that gets served from your Web site).
  • Free offers: you can easily generate a list by offering a something for free. A book, brochure, guide, anything that the user might feel is valuable. The only requirement is that the user must provide a valid email address.

Because mountains of spam―unsolicited email ads―are sent out every day and jam the inboxes of good citizens around the world, email advertising has several legal restrictions you should be aware of. Besides the legal restrictions, people are generally unhappy about spam and you don’t want them to think of you as a spammer. For this reason, email marketers have adopted permission marketing using either opt-in or opt-out systems. In an opt-in system, users give permission to the email marketer to send ads, offers, or newsletters before they’re sent. In an opt-out system, email marketers give recipients the tools necessary to take their names and email addresses off the email list. From both a legal and a marketing perspective, you should practice one or the other―or both.

8.14.1. EMG Marketing Solutions

Based in Aurora, IL, EMG Marketing Solutions provides complete email marketing services include list rental, HTML email design, tracking, analysis, email broadcasting, and opt-in/opt-out management. You can use your own email list or rent one. The EMG rental lists are totally opt-in lists; your emails will reference EMG’s opt-in protocol rather than yours. If you’re really serious about email marketing, they will also host your email broadcasting servers.

8.14.2. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an email server solution that hosts your email list, sends out scheduled emails to that list, and manages the opt-in or opt-out activities. You can use Constant Contact to create HTML rich media emails and newsletters. They provide templates so the process should be blissfully simple.

Pricing is based on the size of your email list; prices range from $15 per month for lists of 0-500 email addresses to $150 for email lists ranging from 10,001 to 25,000 recipients. Constant Contact does not provide or use rented lists, so you must have your own proprietary list.

Constant Contact also offers an online survey service which you can integrate into your email marketing. Monthly prices are determined by either your email list size or the number of people responding to your surveys.

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