It isn’t difficult to see why email marketing has picked up a bit of a bad reputation over the years. Hardly a day goes by when our email inbox isn’t clogged up by dozens, if not hundreds, of low quality, irrelevant and dubious-looking spam emails. People hate this sort of thing, and it is enough to make businesses think very carefully about whether to use email marketing, and if so, how to employ it properly.
However, to discount email marketing because of the actions of an irresponsible minority is to turn your back on an extremely robust and proven method of securing new business and boosting ROI from existing customers. Email marketing has been used by reputable businesses since the mid-90s and continues to go strong despite the growth of other digital marketing methods, including SEO and social media.
If done right, email marketing will serve to engage your customers, rather than annoy them. We believe that all businesses can benefit from high-quality, targeted email marketing. If you have yet to experience the advantages of email marketing, or have been burned in the past, we encourage you to read on to see the reasons why to get involved, and some of the methods to avoid.
Why Use Email Marketing?
There are good reasons why email marketing has remained consistently popular for 20 years. The process of sending out targeted, easily digestible emails is fast, efficient and cheaper than almost any other form of marketing.
– Email marketing is low cost marketing
When compared with some digital marketing methods, such as Pay Per Click (PPC), email marketing is outrageously cheap. Many email marketing platforms, such as MailChimp, are completely free for databases of less than 2,000 contacts. Custom templates can easily be created through HTML editors such as Adobe Dreamweaver or CoffeeCup Responsive Email Designer.
– Reaches a massive audience quickly
Reach a guaranteed, self-selected audience at the click of a button. There are no limits to the number of people you can reach by email marketing, so long as you have the supporter base available. This also helps make email marketing one of the most predictable marketing methods available: you know the exact reach of your campaigns so you can accurately analyse the results.
– Increase brand awareness
Most business email users have their inbox open continually throughout the day, and often check it in their own time as well. Carefully timed emails will increase your brand awareness and keep your company at the front of your target customer’s mind at times they are likely to be making purchase decisions. This gives you an immediate psychological edge over competitors that the customer may be researching, even if they have a more prominent Facebook profile or higher Google rankings than you do.
– Create shareable content
Emails can easily be shared with friends, colleagues and contacts, making marketing emails the original ‘viral’ content. Many emails are also shared by recipients on social media, especially if they contain useful links. This further increases the reach of your content.
– Measure the success of your campaigns
Email marketing allows you access to precise analytics. Find out how many emails were opened, how many links were clicked, where in the world your readers are based and much more. Use this information to fine tune future campaigns and make your next email even more successful.
– Great return on investment
Although most individual emails in the campaign will not be opened, email marketing still has an impressive ROI that easily trumps search marketing, PPC or traditional direct mail. The value of email marketing builds up over time, as subscribers to a list open and engage with some emails while not others. The Direct Marketing Association has reported consistent increases in ROI from email marketing since 2012. The key to good returns from email marketing is to focus on relationship building and giving something of value to your list subscribers, rather than using email marketing for one-off sales.
Value-driven email marketing Vs Spam: What annoys people and what to avoid
We live and work in an email culture. At work, a person can expect to receive 100 or more emails per day, from colleagues, suppliers, clients, friends, as well as marketing emails. Clearly it is not the medium itself that causes annoyance. People are annoyed not by emails per se, but by spammy and irrelevant content. Because time is short, it is irritating to have to sift through emails that have obviously been sent without any consideration for the recipient.
The success factor in email marketing is to adopt a value driven approach that selects messages in terms of personal relevance to the recipient. Failing to do this risks alienating your potential customers. To avoid falling into this trap, steer clear of the following mistakes:
– Generic, untargeted emails
Never send an email that isn’t personalised and targeted to the customer. Doing so involves analysing your data and segmenting it by industry, buyer persona and customer relationship, so that your emails remain relevant at all times.
– Sales! Sales! Sales!
It’s fine to use emails as a direct sales tool from time to time, but it is far more effective to send out a mixture of content. Send out links to blog posts and other relevant content, videos, newsletters and useful resources. The great ROI associated with email marketing comes from the cumulative long-term effect of engaging your target audience with carefully selected content and indirect sales messages.
– Unethical use of data UK Data
Protection legislation stipulates that subscribers need to positively opt in to an email list in order for you to send them emails. Failure to do this risks your email communications being marked as spam. This can get you blacklisted from certain email servers and can damage your reputation as a business. There are many ways to collect people’s data, including through having a newsletter signup on your website. A ‘positive opt in’ is considered to go stale after six months to a year, so carry out periodic reviews of your email lists in order to ensure the people who get your messages genuinely still want to receive them.
You will also find email data available to sale through data brokers, although this is a declining trend. If going down this route, make sure you verify the source of the data carefully before purchasing. A list purchased or rented from a third party is rarely as effective as an email list gathered directly from people who have had contact with your business.
By the same logic, don’t sell or pass on your subscribers email data to a third party without their express consent.
– Poor presentation
With so many good apps available for creating good HTML emails these days, there really is no excuse for poor presentation. A sloppily created email creates a bad impression and damages your brand. Use one of the templates supplied by an email marketing application, or create your own with an HTML editor. An important factor to consider is how good your email will look on different devices. When designing your own templates, pay attention to making them responsive, so that they look good whether the reader accesses them on a smart phone, laptop or desktop computer.
– Too many hits
Go easy on your list subscribers. For B2B marketing, as a general rule make sure each segment of your list only gets one or two emails per week. Any more and you risk overloading the subscriber and diminishing the impact of the messages you send.
The Golden Rule
Responsible, successful email marketing can be guided by this golden rule:
Customers should feel they are getting more value from the emails you send than you are.
If your emails come across like you don’t really care about the customer personally, or you are just after their money, or if you don’t offer anything of value, then the recipient is likely to get annoyed. They would be justified in doing so. However, if you take a value driven approach to email marketing, with a carefully segmented contact list and personalized approaches for each group, then you will see why this oldest form of digital marketing is still among the most successful.