The new direct mail
E-mail marketing is one of the most powerful elements in your digital marketing toolbox. It lets you communicate easily with your customers on a personal level through a universally accepted digital medium. Choosing the right approach for your e-mail marketing communications is, of course, key. Unsophisticated mass-marketing techniques, or anything that smacks of e-mail spam, is likely to be ignored, that’s if it makes it to your prospect’s inbox at all.
Customers will still open your e-mail
The truth is, many customers will welcome regular e-mail communications from your business, in the same way as they may welcome the occasional traditional or ‘snail’ mail offering a money-off voucher for their favorite store. They will open an e-mail containing a newsletter or promotion from you, as long as they recognize your brand, they’re expecting to receive communication from you, and are confident it will contain something of value to them.
What exactly is e-mail marketing?
E-mail marketing is a fusion of marketing savvy and imaginative copy. In its simplest form, it’s an e-mail sent to a customer list that usually contains a sales pitch and a ‘call to action’. This could be as simple as encouraging the customer to click on a web link embedded in the e-mail. Some examples of e-mail marketing campaigns could include:
- a hotel promoting a special summer discount;
- a recruitment company informing business clients about a free seminar;
- a gadget store offering a money-off code to be used at its online checkout;
- a fitness Centre offering members a special printout voucher that entitles the bearer to bring a friend along for free;
- a beverage company encouraging people to download a game that integrates into the user’s Facebook profile.
E-mail marketing tools
When it comes to managing and sending your marketing e-mail, you probably won’t want to rely on your standard desktop e-mail client to do the job. While it’s a perfectly feasible approach for very small lists, as more people subscribe to your e-mail offering it will quickly become cumbersome and unmanageable.
Customer relationship management
It is no good using e-mail marketing tools if you don’t know who you’re sending your e-mails to. Customer relationship management (CRM) is a business concept that has been around for about 25 years. It is the art, if you will, of keeping your customers happy and maintaining an ongoing personal relationship with them. Let’s say you run a small grocery shop in an equally small neighborhood. Over time you’ll get to know your regular customers, their likes and dislikes, and what other products they might be interested in trying, etc.
Building your e-mail list
As we mentioned earlier, people won’t respond to seemingly random e-mail communications: they won’t even open them. So before you can do any e-mail marketing you need to build up a list of customers who want to receive e-mail communications from your business. The best way to do that is to encourage them, whenever you get the chance, to opt-in to receiving your e-mails.
Another reason your e-mails may not be seen is that you’re sending them out in a format that your recipients’ e-mail clients – the software or website used to read and reply to e-mails – doesn’t recognize. This is not as much of a problem as it used to be, because the adoption of internet standards has improved significantly, and pretty much all of the e-mail clients today will seamlessly handle rich text or HTML e-mail, unless the user has specified otherwise.
If you have a complex business with a wide array of different customers, investing in a sophisticated CRM system will let you build an even more detailed profile of your customer base and of their purchasing behavior. By linking their customer account (if they have registered on your website) to other databases within your business, and ‘mining’ customer data from a variety of sources, you can get an increasingly granular view, and can target ever more relevant messages to particular segments of your e-mail lists.