Email marketing is one of those buzz phrases, striking a mixture of glee and trepidation all at once in the heart of most business owners and marketing departments. Email marketing and e-zines have become all the latest excitement, providing an opportunity to reach a large number of clients with little more than the rattle of a keyboard and the click of a mouse. The power of this marketing tool and a successful email campaign need hardly be argued, but there are many issues of etiquette and responsibility to be considered, or your presentation risks simply being labelled as spa and quickly blocked, filtered away or deleted.
As you design your email marketing campaign, it is a good idea to keep the following points in mind to make your campaign successful while still operating within the law and the expectations of your customers or potential customers.
Let’s take a look at each of these points in detail, stressing the right ways to handle concerns and build your business.
SIGN UP SUBSCRIBERS
No matter what type of email marketing campaign you’re planning, be it an e-zine or simply a one-page blurb about a new shop’s grand opening, a mailing list with no-one signed up to it is a pretty poor list. You may be tempted to purchase email lists in bulk, but this is a temptation that should be avoided - it may give you a lot of names, but of those only a fraction are sure to be sufficiently interested in your product to actually open the email and read it. It is much better to sign up people you have met personally, or who have visited your off-line store, if you have one, or your website. At both a these locations you should create a means for customers to sign up for your e-zine or email updates. You’ll be surprised at how many people will do so and you can send your information to them with confidence that they will open and read it. Studies on mailing lists find that about 20% of the people on your mailing list provide 80% of the business you can expect to generate from that list. This percentage drops with an unfocused mailing list, and rises with greater focus.
ALLOW FOR AN OPT-OUT
At the bottom of your e-zine or advertising email, always provide a link for those who wish to be removed from the mailing list. Most people won’t take advantage of this, but they will be comforted to have the option to opt out. This reduces the pressure that some people call feel when they feel they are being targeted advertising campaigns, and makes them more likely to actually keep reading what you have sent.
LEGITEMATE CONTACT INFORMATION
When sending out an advertising email or e-zine, be sure to provide valid contact information to the customer. This serves several purposes, it legitimises your business and also gives customers a direct way to contact you if they are interested in what you are advertising.
CARRY USEFUL INFORMATION AND NON-AGGRESSIVE ADVERTISING
Generally, customers receiving an email expect the information to be more than just a sales pitch or jingle. They are looking for useful information that they can refer back to at a future time, or information in answer to questions they have asked. If your ad or e-zine is nothing more than sales babble, it is very likely to be discarded before more than the first line or two is ever read. The more legitimate and interesting the information you provide, the more likely your customers will read to the end, whether you sent them a short email, an e-zine or even a full email marketing campaign. In conjunction with making your information useful, it is best to present email advertising in a fashion that is inviting with out being overly aggressive.
Customers are accustomed to being blasted with ads on television and radio and to dealing with pushy salespeople face-to-face, even though these are all media that are harder to shut out than email or an e-zine. If advertising strikes customers as abrasive or overly pushy, they will simply erase. Make sure your design emphasises encouraging advertising, bringing your product to your customers and making your business a success: the goal is to invite a customer into the sale, not push customers away.
DON’T LIST BULK
Many services gather email addresses for sale, using web bots, spiders and other such technologies. While it is tempting to purchase these products in order to increase your exposure, it is generally best to resist this temptation and keep your email marketing focused on those who have a genuine interest in your product, or who have opted in of their own free will. This prevents you annoying those who don’t want to receive your communications; this is very important, because complaints to your ISP can result in your email server being shut down for spamming. Patience will pay off in the longer run if you take the time and make the effort to ensure your list is genuine. With these points in mind you’re on your way to creating a strong email marketing campaign.
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