Can you believe email was 40 years old in October 2011? Of course, for most of us, our use of it is much more recent. Email really exploded in popularity in the 1990’s along with the Internet. (For more history, see http://tnw.to/1CUEA).
Today email is already considered “old school” by many who prefer instant messaging. At the same time, it can still be a great medium for marketing … if done right.
There is a lot to successfully using email for marketing. Here are important tips to keep in mind:
1) You have to build your own lists
Many people still ask where they can find good email lists for people they think would be good prospects for them. Sorry. Studies have verified that people only want to receive emails from companies the recipient has a relationship with or has opted in to receive emails from.
But you want to contact those people to ask them to sign up for your emails, you say. Otherwise it will take too long to build up your own list. Again, sorry. You have to use other methods to reach your prospects and build your list.
It can be effective to rent snail mail lists to send “junk mail” to. We have used direct mail very successfully for clients. But that’s a separate subject.
2) Realize that recipients are very spam sensitive
It’s no wonder. It is estimated that in 2010, 262 billion spam messages were sent per day! That’s 89% of all email traffic. Those @#(*$% spammers make it bad for the rest of us.
But given that reality, it is important to make sure you only send emails targeted to recipient’s interests, that clearly come from someone from whom they want to receive emails. Many spam-weary email users are quick to hit the Spam button or report unwanted messages as spam. That can adversely affect the deliverability of your emails.
3) Segment your audience
In order to make sure your emails are well targeted to your recipients, segment your audience and the messages you send them. Unless you only provide one basic product or service and only have a small, cohesive group of recipients, don’t just send the same message out to everyone. Keep them interested by addressing their interests.
For example, a car manufacturer has many different models. If I’m a sports car buyer, I don’t want to hear about the company’s latest family van. If they keep sending me emails about their non-sports cars, I’ll quickly unsubscribe. But if their emails focus on their sports models, I’m much more likely to keep reading them.
4) Don’t over send
To continue the same example, if they inundate my inbox daily or in this case, weekly, even if its about their sports models, I’m likely to get annoyed and unsubscribe. Timing is everything, especially with email marketing.
5) The subject line is crucial
In an advertisement, the job of the headline … and the visuals … is to get the readers’ attention so they will read the ad. In email, the subject line is the first “headline.” It’s job is to get the recipient to open the email and check out the contents. And it stands alone, without visuals. It needs to be very well written indeed.
Good advertising writers spend the most time on the headlines. Email marketing writers need to do the same. Sometimes even a minor change is the subject line can make a big difference in the opening rate. If your mailing list is large enough, it is a good idea to test one subject line against another to see which works better. Then test the better one again.
As I said above, there is a lot to using email effectively as a marketing tool. These five tips are just a part of the overall picture, but they are important points many people aren’t aware of.