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As the Internet has grown, e-mail marketing has become one of the most efficient and cost effective tools for online marketing. E-mail marketing drastically affects businesses whether they are B2B or B2C (business to business/business to consumer). Marketing through e-mail increases your brand loyalty and increases your customer service through the eyes of your customers. When permission based e-mail marketing is done right it can be more effective than any other type of online marketing strategy. The thing to keep in mind is that no one single component of online marketing can stand on its own. For instance, an e-mail newsletter needs to have a great website to back it up as well as interest in your business to build your e-mail list in the first place.
The number one activity online is e-mail. This is why e-mail can be used as a great online marketing tool. Many Internet users say that they would rather get marketing messages in their e-mail than be bothered by sales phone calls at home.
Permission Based E-mail
One important key to an effective e-mail marketing strategy is to only focus on permission based mail. This means that customers need to choose to receive mail from you. This is known as “opt in”.
You should never rent or buy an e-mail list since this is considered to be spam. No matter what the owner of the e-mail list will tell you, the majority of the addresses on the list did not opt in to receive e-mail or to have their personal information sold to you. When you send e-mail to people who don’t want it you’re sending spam. Spam will give your company image a cheap look and take away any trust that customers have in you. You want leads that are quality and not quantity and this means building your own e-mail list. You’ll find that the final results will be tremendous to you and your business.
E-mail marketing should be considered an extension of the customer service that you provide. You want to be able to communicate with your customers at every point in the sales process. When you give your customers what they ask for, without abusing any permission, you establish the base for a relationship that is founded on respect and leads to long term customer loyalty.
Build your E-mail List
If you take part in joint promotion and/or co-branding with another online company make sure that you don’t trade e-mail lists. What you can do is include information about that company in the newsletter you send to your customers. All e-mail should come only from you. You’ll lose your customer’s trust if they think you’ve sold their personal information to another business. And this means that they will disregard any future communication with you and your business.
To get people to join your e-mail list don’t ask them for much more than a few bits of information at a time. You need to gain their trust before asking for too much information. You can start out by asking for their name and e-mail address. Your future marketing promotions will help you fill in other information such as age and demographics. It will take time to get a clear idea of who your best customers are and what they want to get out of your website and e-mail newsletter.
If customers have trust in your business it won’t be hard to get an e-mail list together. Gaining trust is as easy as holding a contest, offering discounts or coupons, regularly changing your website content, or providing informative newsletters.
Should you have on offline store, a great way to gather e-mail addresses is by asking people to give you their business card if they want to win a free lunch. Other offline methods of gathering e-mail addresses include networking events and trade shows. A good rule of thumb is: if someone gives you their business card that has their e-mail address on it you can safely assume that it’s okay to send them an e-mail at least once. If they don’t respond back you should then assume that they are not interested. Take these non-respondents off your e-mail list.
Goal Oriented Marketing: After you’ve created your e-mail list it’s time to develop an e-mail marketing plan. Determine what your business goal is and how you plan to achieve this goal: through (1) repeat customers? (2) more leads? (3) e-mail marketing? You want to define your goals as well as you can so that you can keep track of the process.
If you’re going to send a newsletter via e-mail you need to provide incentives for people to want to stay on your e-mail list.
Ideas for Content: You don’t always have to offer discounts or a free product as incentives to customers. The content of your newsletter can also be a good incentive. Good newsletter content includes:
- Customer submitted success stories.
- Information from experts in your industry.
- A section for questions and answers.
- News and/or statistics about your industry.
- Feedback from customers.
- Tips about your products or services.
Your newsletter shouldn’t include information such as “about you”, your company history, or your company news. This type of information is only valuable for investors. The bottom line is that your customers don’t really care about what is happening in your business. They only want to know what you can do for them. Good newsletter content is anything that catches the interest of your customers. A newsletter, just like your home page, has only a few seconds to attract the attention of your customer before they decide to delete it. Your newsletter should immediately let your customer know what you can do for them, how you’re going to do it, and why they should do business with you. Newsletters are a great way to promote your business but make sure that you take into consideration the content, the length, and the frequency of the newsletter.
Keep it Short: Your newsletter should be concise, short, and get to the point. It should be no more than 1000 words and deal with no more than five different products or services at one time. People don’t like to read lengthy e-mails.
Newsletters that deal with too many departments are more difficult for you to update. This could be a roadblock to you sending out newsletters on a regular basis while at the same time providing new and fresh content. If there is too much information in the first e-mail your customers won’t want to click through to your website. And a no-click means you have no way to keep track of the success or failure of your e-mail marketing strategy.
The main difference between online marketing and traditional marketing is that online methods allow you to track what is happening. If the e-mails you send out don’t encourage customers to click to your website you won’t know what is working and what isn’t.
Frequency and Timing: You need to determine when and how often you’re going to send out e-mail newsletters. You don’t want to send e-mails out too often as this will overwhelm your customers. At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long between e-mails or your customers will start to forget who you are. Timing and consistency will vary depending on what type of business you have. If you’re not sure when and how often to send your newsletters, just ask. Whenever someone joins your e-mail list ask them how often they would like to receive an e-mail from you. Another way to track frequency and timing is by sending out e-mails at different times during the week. Then keep track of which days have more viewings of your e-mail and your website to determine what day is the better one for sending out your newsletter.
List Hosting Services
You can build, send, and keep track of your e-mail marketing campaign by using an e-mail hosting program. Using an e-mail program is an important method of effective online marketing. An e-mail hosting service takes away some of the work of manually adding and deleting addresses from your database. These services also have the ability to test your newsletters before you send them out. There are multiple templates for you to choose from which means that you won’t have to learn how to use html in order to send a newsletter that is professional looking. If you decide to use a template make sure that it matches the look and feel of your company brand and website. Consistency is the key to effective online marketing.
E-mail list hosting services allow you to track and manage your e-mail marketing campaign. You have the ability to receive reports that have precise details about which links and graphics your customers have clicked on. This information lets you change the content of your newsletter when you know what it is that your customers most want to read and see. As you start to send out more newsletters you’ll get a better feel for what it is that your customers want. This is why you want the content of your newsletters to be flexible.
You should create newsletter content that is somewhat based on the profiles of the customers you’re trying to reach. The majority of e-mail list services will allow you to set up your subscription pages so that your customers can indicate what they want to receive from your company. When you can identify the audience that you’re writing for you can modify your newsletter so that you include the right kinds of promotions and product information.
If your newsletter contains something of value, such as travel information, your customers are more likely to forward the e-mail on to friends and family. When you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, by giving your customers the information they want to see, you build credibility and trust.
Always keep in mind that no matter how great your newsletter content is, there is no guarantee that people will read it. One way that you can make sure your newsletter isn’t deleted before being read is by have a great subject line.
Great Subject Lines
Many newsletters and business offers are never read by Internet users for the simple reason that the e-mail didn’t have an effective subject line. A subject line may only be a few words but these few words are very important.
As more and more e-mails fill our in-boxes it’s more important than ever to have a subject line that catches our attention. The subject line is one of the most important aspects of your e-mail marketing campaign because it’s what creates a first impression for your business. With just a few words you can encourage someone to read your newsletter or you can cause them to delete your e-mail without another glance.
Here are some simple rules for creating a great subject line:
- Keep the subject line direct and short. Subject lines should never be more than ten words long. In fact, five words or less is the perfect length. Most e-mail browsers won’t let users see more than five or six words so a longer subject line will be truncated and not seen by the user. Use strong and descriptive words rather than fluffy adjectives such as “very”.
- Emphasize the benefits to the reader. You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to know precisely why they will benefit from reading your newsletter. This can be as simple as a “reward” for just opening the e-mail. A reward can be information or a discount coupon. You want to use catch phrases such as “save money” and “save time” to get a reader’s immediate attention. The key is to entice your customers to want to read more and open the e-mail.
- Ask questions. When you ask a question in the subject line you cause a reader to become curious and want to know more. As well, when you ask a question the e-mail sounds more like it’s coming from a colleague rather than just a business and will more likely be opened and read.
- Personal subject lines. One big mistake that screams “spam” is sending your e-mail to “undisclosed recipients”. Make sure to always use your company name or real name as the sender. Try to put the recipients name in the subject line if there is room as well as insert it into the greeting of the e-mail.
- Take advantage of holidays and current events. If there is an upcoming holiday, such as Christmas, you can tie it up with your e-mail subject line. For example, “Save time on your Christmas Shopping”.
- Avoid using the word “free”. Hard sales phrases, such as “free” and “limited offer”, are often filtered out by e-mail services since they are a clear indication of spam. As well, try to avoid using hype which includes explanation marks or all capital letters.