Email marketing is an extremely powerful website promotional tool. It is one-to-one direct marketing that is personalised, with well-defined targets, where the results are instant, accurate and easy-to-understand.
So as you can imagine, many companies and individuals have started sending out promotional emails to every email address they can find. Just about everyone hates unsolicited email- or SPAM. Many people have associated email marketing with SPAM, but it is important to understand that not all email marketing is SPAM.
It is possible to use email marketing legitimately, without fear of being banned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). For instance, people who have agreed to receive promotions from you, and where there is a facility for them to request they don’t wish to receive another message from your company, is perfectly fine. This is called ‘opt-in’ email marketing.
An important website rule is:
Get your visitor’s email address whenever you can!
Once you have a visitor’s email address you can encourage them to return time and again to order from you, for little or no extra cost.
The first thing you need to understand before creating and sending email promotions is the difference between text and HTML emails.
They look different– text-based emails are written in plain text (type)– they do not contain any formatting. You cannot bold or underline anything or change the font in a text-based email.
HTML emails, on the other hand, are written using a markup language, which resides in the backend code of the message. This allows you to use an array of ‘formats’ (typeset/design) in your email.
Text or HTML… which is better?
Some people advocate text-based emails, because they are quick to download by the recipient, are reliable for displaying correctly and do not carry ‘viruses’ or ‘worms’ that may be embedded in the code of an HTML email.
Those who advocate HTML-based emails prefer them for their ‘attractive’ qualities and readability. Most email viewers can display text or HTML-based email perfectly.
Some people argue that email marketers get better results using text-based emails and some people argue the other way. The results differ, depending on your ‘opt-in’ email list.
Test both types of emails and monitor the results. For example, send plain text messages to half your list and HTML email to the other half. Then compare the results. Whatever works best– use it!
One of the keys to any successful email marketing campaign is the targeting of your promotions. You can target your promotions by segmenting your customer database as much as possible. Break your customer lists down into groups. You may want to ‘segment’ your customer database based on characteristics such as:
- Existing customers versus prospects
- Customers based on geographical location
- Existing customers– segmented by the products they have bought
- Sex (male/female)
Once you have your customers segmented you can then target your promotions at those segments at will. For example, if you are writing a promotion for your existing customers, you may concentrate on certain value-added cross-sells, or up-sells, that you have on offer. A promotion aimed at new members may promote a new member offer.
Just as in other forms of direct marketing, one of the interesting areas of email marketing is personalisation. In general, the more personalised an email is, the higher your success rate will be.
Remember, the most incredible ‘sound’, with the most impact on any person, is the sound of their name. Good email marketing packages will allow you to heavily personalise your emails. Some of the most common things that you will want to use to personalise your emails are:
- First name
- Last name
- City or location
- Last product or service purchased
- Date of last purchase
- Most common product category of purchase
Depending on the abilities of your email marketing program, any information you have collected about a prospect can be used to personalize your email promotions to them.