E-mail marketing is a form of direct marketing which uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fund-raising messages to an audience. In its broadest sense, every e-mail sent to a potential or current customer could be considered e-mail marketing. However, the term is usually used to refer to:
- sending e-mails with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a merchant with its current or previous customers, to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business,
- sending e-mails with the purpose of acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately,
- adding advertisements to e-mails sent by other companies to their customers, and
- sending e-mails over the Internet, as e-mail did and does exist outside the Internet (e.g., network e-mail and FIDO).
Researchers estimate that United States firms alone spent US $400 million on e-mail marketing in 2006.
Comparison to traditional mail
There are both advantages and disadvantages to using e-mail marketing in comparison to traditional advertising mail.
E-mail marketing (on the Internet) is popular with companies for several reasons:
- An exact return on investment can be tracked (“track to basket”) and has proven to be high when done properly. E-mail marketing is often reported as second only to search marketing as the most effective online marketing tactic.
- Advertisers can reach substantial numbers of e-mail subscribers who have opted in (i.e., consented) to receive e-mail communications on subjects of interest to them.
- Over half of Internet users check or send e-mail on a typical day.
- E-mail is popular with digital marketers, rising an estimated 15% in 2009 to £292m in the UK.
A report issued by the e-mail services company Return Path, as of mid-2008 e-mail deliverability is still an issue for legitimate marketers. According to the report, legitimate e-mail servers averaged a delivery rate of 56%; twenty percent of the messages were rejected, and eight percent were filtered.
Companies considering the use of an e-mail marketing program must make sure that their program does not violate spam laws such as the United States’ Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), the European Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, or their Internet service provider’s acceptable use policy.
Opt-in e-mail advertising
Opt-in e-mail advertising, or permission marketing, is a method of advertising via e-mail whereby the recipient of the advertisement has consented to receive it. This method is one of several developed by marketers to eliminate the disadvantages of e-mail marketing.
Opt-in e-mail marketing may evolve into a technology that uses a handshake protocol between the sender and receiver.This system is intended to eventually result in a high degree of satisfaction between consumers and marketers. If opt-in e-mail advertising is used, the material that is e-mailed to consumers will be “anticipated”. It is assumed that the consumer wants to receive it, which makes it unlike unsolicited advertisements sent to the consumer. Ideally, opt-in e-mail advertisements will be more personal and relevant to the consumer than untargeted advertisements.
A common example of permission marketing is a newsletter sent to an advertising firm’s customers. Such newsletters inform customers of upcoming events or promotions, or new products. In this type of advertising, a company that wants to send a newsletter to their customers may ask them at the point of purchase if they would like to receive the newsletter.
With a foundation of opted-in contact information stored in their database, marketers can send out promotional materials automatically—known as Drip Marketing. They can also segment their promotions to specific market segments.
The Ten Most Important Tips for Email Marketers
- Only send emails to persons who have requested to receive them.
- Only include content relevant to the type of content the person has requested.
- Be consistent with your sending frequency. Pick a schedule, whether it is weekly, biweekly, or monthly and as often as you can stick to that schedule.
- In most cases it is best to send business to business emails Tuesday through Thursday. The best times of the day to send are just after the start of the day around 9:30am or just after lunch around 1:30pm. It is best to avoid sending business to business emails after 4pm or on weekends.
- In most cases it is best to send business to consumer emails either between 5pm and 8pm Tuesday through Thursday or between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.
- To improve deliverability, add a message at the top of your emails that says something like: “To ensure receipt of our emails, please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your Address Book.”
- Make the From Name for your messages either your company name or the name of a person at your company. Once you choose a From Name, keep it consistent. During the split second decision subscribers make whether to open your email, the most important factor in their decision is whether the From Name is familiar to them.
- Be sure to include both a plain text and an HTML version of your newsletter. If you don’ include a plain text message, around 5% of your recipients will see a message with nothing in it.
- Don’t use all caps or multiple exclamation marks within your subject line or body. Doing this will trigger spam filters.
- Build your list at every opportunity you have. If you have a retail location, add a point-of-sale sign-up form. At conferences or events, bring a paper sign-up
form or have a laptop with a sign- up form set up and available for
interested parties. Finally, add your newsletter signup form to every page on your web site.