While email began as a communications tool for academic and business purposes, it soon became a tool for personal communications among friends, relatives and even people who had never met in real life! As people began to spend more and more time using email as their primary communications tool, smart marketers realized that email communications were the future of marketing communications and began to make the shift into using email as a way to effectively communicate with customers. Email Marketing, even in its earliest days, presented a number of benefits over both postal marketing and telesales as a form of direct-to-consumer or direct business-to-business communications. We'll look at those benefits in detail in the next section of this book, but today email marketing is a robust portion of any complete marketing plan and has entire industries built around helping businesses of all sizes effectively email market.
Comm100 Email Marketing would, of course, be an example of this. Comm100 Email Marketing works to develop email marketing software that streamline the sending of email to consumers or business contacts with customized messages and complete tracking. In addition to companies that focus primarily on developing email marketing solutions, individuals have become email marketing experts as well. Most mid-sized or larger companies employ at least one email marketing specialist and may have as many as several employees who focus on nothing but creating effective email marketing strategies and campaigns.
Of course, you may not need an entire staff, but you do need to understand the basics of email marketing strategy, benefits and tactics of email marketing. The benefits and tactics are shared below
Reduced Time & Effort
Take a moment to think about the time and effort involved in structuring a direct-to-consumer or direct business-to-business campaign using one of the two most common offline direct marketing communications techniques:
- Print Postal Mailings: You'll need to allow time for a designer to create the mailing, typically through several lengthy revisions. Then you'll need to allow time for the print mailing to be printed, cut and, if necessary, stuffed into envelopes. There will be time while the marketing collateral is being transported via the postal system and then time while you wait for the consumer to retrieve it from the mail box.
- Telesales Campaigns: In addition to having to construct a telesales script, you'll have to wait the time out while your sales agents dial through cycled call attempts to all of the sales leads or customers on your target list.
- With email marketing, however, you can turn a marketing communications piece out in typically less than two hours. Using recurring email templates, all you'll need to do is to approve the copy for the email and any changes to graphics, use easy database list queries like those available in the Comm100 system to decide whom to send to, and then just hit send. Weeks' of work can be accomplished in just a few hours and by a single employee.
As we talked about above, with a print mailer or telesales campaign, you'll need to select marketing campaigns and specials that have a "long tail" because of the extended period of time between campaign development and implementation. Because a marketing email can be completed in just a few hours, you can literally send "day-of" messages to help reduce stock or promote a limited time special as needed. You can even send unique real-time messages to customers that arrive on their birthdays or anniversaries. With email marketing, short time frames are your friend, not your enemy.
Because print mail campaigns, telesales campaigns and even print, television and radio advertising campaigns must be done in a mostly "one-size-fits-all" format, it's difficult for you to speak directly to your consumer in a personalized way. However, email marketing presents many dynamic opportunities. Not only can you send personalized email with your user's name or login name, but many email marketing solutions offer the ability to feed in personalized information such as sales or purchase history. Also, because creating separate email sends is significantly less challenging than creating separate postal mail, print mail or advertising campaigns, you can segment your customer list into smaller lists and send very personalized messages. For example, you can select all of your users or customers who are from New York City and then write your email marketing copy to speak directly about New York City. With email marketing and communications, you can easily speak to your customers in a very personalized and intimate way that is not possible with other marketing channels and avenues.
Segment User and Customer Database Information
As noted above, because you can segment your database of customers or users with email, you can send extremely targeted marketing campaigns that will result in increased sales conversions simply because they are so specific. For example, if you sell flowers, you can find everybody in your database who ever bought daffodils and then send them an email in April when the first daffodil shipments come in. You're then using your customer database to put the most relevant message in front of the customers who are most likely to respond to it, and that's what good marketing is all about.
More Frequent Communications
Because email takes less time to create and send than other marketing and advertising channels do, you can communicate with your customers more frequently. Instead of only being able to send them a flyer or catalog once a month or once a quarter, you can easily send them offers once a week. You could, of course, send them email even more frequently than that if their email activity supports making that decision. You may want to note, however, that it's one of the typicalemail marketing best practices to not send customer emails more than once a week. However, gone are the days when you were lucky to get a message in front of your customers once a month. Via email marketing, you can communicate with customers weekly or even daily!
Test Marketing Messages
Good marketing always means being able to test things! With email marketing, it becomes incredibly easy to see what graphics, headlines, offers and even colors your users and customers will respond to. It's incredibly simple to simply send one version of an email to one part of your list and a second version of an email to a different part of your email list. Then, through the very precise tracking tools that email marketing offers, you can figure out which marketing message worked better to convert sales or user actions. We'll talk in detail about both the great tracking tools that email marketing offers as well as common types of email testing later on in this book.
When was the last time that you saw a customer hand over a postal mailing that they'd received to a friend who might be interested? Or have you have seen somebody clip an ad from a magazine and send it to a family member who may want that product or service? However, forwarding an email with an enticing or useful offer or piece of information only takes seconds and many users will do it. That means that your marketing effort has not only a wider reach but also a networked reach with people who, by forwarding the email, are now acting as your brand advocates.
Reduce Overhead Costs
Email marketing can be done at a very low overhead cost! You don't need a ton of employees, designers, or marketing analysts. You don't need to pay for printing, postal mailing costs, phone lines, or advertising rates. In fact, there are services, such as Comm100 Email Marketing, that allow you to host your email marketing using professionally-designed templates that you can then just alter to your own needs. An effective email marketing program only needs a great email marketing platform or service and a good marketer who knows how to put the right offers and the right copy and graphics in front of the right portion of your user or customer list. There is no marketing channel in which you'll spend less to get greater returns on your investment than email marketing.
Exponentially Better Ability to Track Sales and User Engagement
There may be no better marketing channel from which to draw precise and usable tracking information to help you figure out what's successful and what's not than email marketing. Well-developed email marketing platforms such as Comm100 Email Marketing can provide tracking information on how many people opened an email, how many people clicked a link in an email, which specific link within the email was clicked, how many people complained that an email was spam or unsubscribed and, of course, whether your email even made it into your recipient's inbox.Combine that with a business's ability to track sales back to a source and you can identity customer engagement and response through an entire cycle with clear, easy-to-understand metrics.
Save the Planet with Email Marketing!
It may seem like a minor part of the big picture, but we're all trying to be more environmentally friendly these days! When you optimize email marketing as your primary customer communication and direct-to-consumer or direct business-to-business marketing method, you'll help save the planet by reducing the number of trees killed for print marketing pieces. We all want to help save the planet, and making a responsible decision about your marketing tools can help you to do just that while also improving your business's success.
Those are a lot of measurable benefits of email marketing over other marketing channels! Of course, we recommend that email marketing be an important part of your marketing mix – not the only ingredient in it. However, as you can see, if you're not incorporating email into your marketing plan, then you're missing out on a number of benefits that can improve your overall sales and user engagement for a very low overhead cost and, in many cases, a very limited amount of time and effort.