Email marketing is a simple technological improvement on traditional direct mail marketing methods. Just like letters, e-mails offer the chance to put across more information than a typical advert and utilising a list broker or your own internal data lists campaigns can be highly targeted to the people most likely to be interested in them. One of the biggest advantages e-mail brings over regular postal mail is a huge reduction in cost, materials and time making it highly cost effective.
There are a variety of approaches to the basics of email marketing and mailing lists:
E-mailing lists of previous customers for relationship enhancement and brand loyalty
This takes the form of a traditional newsletter; provide a newsletter sign up on your website and add all new customers to it, promising special offers or useful information as best suits your market and customers. Mail them monthly with the latest news presented in a friendly, no-pressure-selling way and make sure you do offer the occasional benefit to receiving your updates. In this way you maintain contact with previous customers in the long term, keep them informed of what you're doing and how you can help them and they're actually happy for you to market to them in this way.
E-mailing lists of cold contacts for acquisition of new customers
Commonly referred to with distaste as spam, cold e-mail doesn't have to be frozen cold! Many e-mail marketers buy huge amounts of the cheapest possible e-mail addresses in a numbers game; if you e-mail enough people even a tiny percentage return will be profitable because the only cost is the list purchase, but this is also how you get a reputation for spamming people.
Maintain your business reputation and get more targeted by working with a list broker, these companies maintain detailed data lists with all sorts of useful demographic data attached. You can buy contacts that only live in your catchment area, earn the right kind of income and are the right kind of age for your customers and lots of other refinements that should help the right e-mail advert bring in a decent response.
The copywriting is crucial as with any other form of promotion and the e-mail subject and first paragraph of copy are the most important things; e-mails are deleted so readily that you have to really grab attention without becoming the victim of a spam filter; consider working with a copywriter experienced in writing for e-mail marketing.
Paying for advertising space on other people's mailing lists
Only advisable when there's a really well established mailing list available to you that can demonstrate their advertisers see some kind of return on investment, and if you can afford some professional graphic design as well. Do your research, subscribe to the newsletters yourself for a while and see what other advertisers do and how well they're placed; if it's buried at the very bottom most people probably won't even see it! This is basically print advertising online and you should only use it if all the factors weigh up; the right audience, the right cost and proven response rates for advertisers.
E-mail marketing is a really low cost way of getting your message right in front of big numbers, but it's also a medium easily ignored if you get it wrong, and remember that legislation is regularly introduced in different countries to moderate spam. At a minimum the e-mail contacts you mail must have opted-in to receiving mails and always be offered a way to unsubscribe; check the laws in your country before you start!
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