I recently answered a question on LinkedIn titled “Is email marketing an effective marketing tool?”.
While the question was mainly geared towards buying bulk email lists and sending unsolicited emails, I thought it was a good chance to shed some light on email marketing (and all direct marketing for that matter) and what you need (and need to avoid) to create an effective email marketing campaign that will get you results.
If you want to know what makes a good email marketing campaign and what drives your customers away faster than you can blink, this article is for you.
Spam Vs Opt-in Emails
Now, before we talk further about each, we must make a distinction between what constitutes spam email and what doesn’t.
Spam email, in general, is sending an email to someone who has not requested to receive that information. A reputed email list provider/vendor/owner will not sell any emails to you, they will rent it. What that means is, instead of you getting the list of emails, they will allow to send your campaign to specific emails based on a certain demographic criteria (age, location, position…etc), all without actually having access to the individual email addresses. If you buy a list from somewhere, that is the first sign that it might be spam.
Whether you buy or rent an email list from a third party, you need to make sure that all the subscribers to that email list did choose to receive email from that vendors and that they are not receiving these emails without their consent, in other words, They “opted in” to be on that list.
Is bulk (or spam) email an effective tool for business promotion? Absolutely not. Unless you don’t care about your brand, don’t mind the negative effect of being associated with spam and don’t mind being blocked by your ISP and email clients, then bulk marketing is for you, otherwise, stay as far away as possible from it. If I was considering doing business with you, and receive a spam email from you, I will definitely not buy from you.
Is email marketing an effective tool for business promotion? Absolutely. There’s a very big difference between spam and permission (or opt-in) email marketing.
Effective Email Marketing
Permission marketing is a very effective tool to promote your business and stay connected with your customers. For your email marketing campaign (or any direct marketing campaign) to be effective, there are three key elements to success:
1. The Mailing List
The first element in having an effective direct marketing campaign is having the right and relevant audience. If you build your own database of users who said they are interested in receiving offers or information about product X, then having a campaign targeted to this audience will definitely give you better results than sending random emails to people who are not interested.
The same goes for rented lists. Defining the right target is key. Whenever you rent any list from a third party, you need to make sure that whoever receives your email is a relevant audience. If whoever is selling (renting) you the list can’t give you enough information about who the mailer is going to, chances are, you are not going to be relevant and you will end up in the spam folder.
A better way to go about it is to go with reputed websites that have a genuine database of users (that opted-in with that website to receive emails from third parties) that you can target with high accuracy. For example, if you are selling accounting software for accountants, go for portals where they keep records of the user’s job title, and send your campaign to accountants within your geographical coverage. An accountant will open an email that comes from you (if you have a relationship with him/her) or from a third party website that he/she is subscribed to, and he/she will be interested in learning about a new software that can make his/her life easier, but a geography teacher will not open your email, and if he/she does by mistake, he/she will immediately delete it, because the offer is not relevant to him/her. You get the point.
2. The Offer
In addition to sending the email to the right people, your “offer” and content is key to assuring you get favorable results. The email has to be visually appealing, easy to read and understand. A person opening your email has to know immediately what you are offering him/her. Make is short, simple and to the point. Highlighting the key benefits and why they need to buy your product or visit your website, or whatever it is you want them to do (what problem it will solve, how it will make their life easier, why you are unique…etc). This information has to be prominent and very easy to spot. The reader will not go through three pages of content to know what the email is all about.
3. The Call to Action
Provided you got the first two point right, you still need to have a call to action. Surprisingly, this is where most campaign fail. A call to action is a simple instruction telling the reader what he/she needs to do after reading this email. If you want people to subscribe to your newsletter, then tell them to go sign up and give them the web address. If you want them to call you for more information about your offer, simply say so, and put your contact details. If you want them to buy a product online, show the website address that they need to visit.
The call to action has to be prominent and usually comes at the end of the message. A nicely written email that look stunning will not give you any results unless you tell people what you need them to do. “Click here”, “Visit Our Showroom”, “Buy Now”, “Download The White Paper”…etc. There are the three elements of effective email marketing campaigns, next time you have an email campaign, remember these rules and you won’t end up in the junk email folder. If you wish to add any insight or have other key elements you want to share, please do comment and tell us all about it.