Email Marketing

Email marketing suits a lot of small businesses for the following reasons:

it’s fast to administer;
it can be highly personalised;
the performance of an email campaign can be easy to track and measure;
regular …

26th July 2007 at 8:03 am

Email marketing suits a lot of small businesses for the following reasons:

  • it’s fast to administer;
  • it can be highly personalised;
  • the performance of an email campaign can be easy to track and measure;
  • regular email contact with your customers can be a powerful route to brand building and awareness, if you are able to supply value-adding content relevantly and regularly;
  • it doesn’t cost the earth.

But email marketing has a couple of big drawbacks too. The number of emails sent each day far exceeds 2.25 billion (Verisign) and could actually exceed 60 billion, according to indicators from Yahoo in 2006.

Of this, spam emails account for 38% of all emails sent (IDC). Put these two factors together and you hit the inherent problem with emailing … will your important message make it into your customer’s inbox? And if it does, will it get the attention that you undoubtedly think it deserves?

Next week, I’ll be offering up a few top tips for making it through the spam filters you’ll inevitably face, if you decide to try your hand at emailing. But firstly a couple of fundamental considerations about who and how.

Who goes on your A list and B list?
Target existing customers (repeat purchase and loyalty) and keep a prospect database that clearly distinguishes warm from cold leads. Anybody who has expressed an interest, or anyone who fits a target customer profile should qualify. (As long as you’re prepared to qualify their details mis-addressed mailers rarely get results).

Get technology working for you
It may sound obvious but put this information into a database. On a very simple level Excel will do, but there are a whole load of off the shelf products out there that can help you with sales and marketing functionality.  A lot of small businesses struggle on with paper based records but these simply aren’t going to cut the mustard if you decide to do some regular, outbound marketing.

Detail matters
Keep as much relevant information about your customers as you can, including their buying habits and areas of interest. Your customer data is a really valuable resource – treat it as such. And be prepared to invest some time or money (or both) in managing it, polishing it and protecting it. Furthermore, make sure that every communication you send out is recorded, so that you have a history of what contact you’ve had and when. Your objective should be to build a coherent dialogue, even if the traffic is predominantly outbound. You want to tell your prospects a story that builds in depth and regularly reinforces key messages to build recognition and awareness.

Play by the rules
If you send unwanted and un-asked for communications to anyone, your mail is technically spam. This is incredibly bad practice and whilst the web police are unlikely to arrive at your door with sirens blaring, you should avoid getting involved in this kind of thing. You need to give your customers and your prospects an opportunity to ‘opt-in’ to your mailing. This could be as simple as verbally asking customers whether they want to receive further information. Or if you are collecting customer data at events, or off the back of advertising, put in a tick box for ‘I would like to know more’. If nothing else this gives a very basic pre-qual of your leads. Customers who don’t want to know about you are unlikely to want to buy from you either!

Once you’ve got your list (which could be anything from 10 names to 10,000) the next hurdle is to craft content. But in the spirit of shorter being better, I will return to this challenge, next week.

Sara Scott

Sara is a marketing specialist with a wealth of on-line and traditional experience. With award winning credentials as an advertising writer, her career also spans the disciplines of planning and strategy for both B2B and consumer clients. Having worked for one of the the UK's biggest non-London agencies, Sara now works on a consultancy basis for clients large and small.

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  1. Alan Wo says:

    Concerning spam issue, there are lots of permission based email marketing service that asks web site visitor to subscribe product/company newsletter before downloading their product catalogue. Then the web site owner can send useful information e.g. tutorial/tips/special to the prospects. Because web visitor are willing to leave the email, this is permission based or opt-in. This is a way to fight spam.

  2. dreamweaver says:

    Just thought I’d post a link to Jeanne Jenning’s book The Email Marketing Kit over at SitePoint for people who are new to Email marketing. I used it when I first started and it has some great tips and techniques for maximizing your email campaigns.

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