What is email marketing?
Email marketing if done correctly can be an excellent way of promoting your business to current and prospective customers. However as you will see there are many issues which must be carefully considered to make your campaign a success.
The main alternative to email marketing is Direct Mail (DM) where a letter, brochure or even small package is sent directly to the recipients postal address. This method of marketing does have its advantages – the reader gets something tangible to touch, you can guarantee they see the mail as you intended and more importantly if budgets allow you can display quality through the materials you use. However with increases in the cost of fuel, postal services, printing and raw materials it has quickly become prohibitive except in small quantities. The other key disadvantage is that you have no way of recording stats on the success your direct mail promotion except via monitoring sales.
The more modern and cost effective method of direct mail is email marketing. In this series of blog posts we discuss the process right from the data collection right through to analysing your statistics.
Why carry out email marketing at all?
Every business who sell products and services has prospects and customers. For prospects, email marketing is by far the cheapest and quickest way to promote your business. Once you have successfully gained a customer then you need to do everything you can to keep them. A recent survey by Harvard Business showed that it is 6 – 7 times more expensive to gain a customer than retain one and repeat customers spend on average 67% more than first time buyers. Email marketing can be a useful tool to help you market your company and to keep your customer retention high.
How do I gain the contacts to build the mailing database?
Every email marketing campaign has to have a database at its input supplying the core details required such as the recipients name and their email address.
This information can be gained from a number of sources -
Purchased Database – If your company has just been created then you are unlikely to have any data which you can use in marketing. The quickest approach to finding prospective customers is to purchase a database from one of many data supply companies. Most of these companies allow you to select a demographic and the number of contacts you would like and will in return supply you with a database of contacts.
Website Subscriptions – On your website you could have a signup form which allow your visitors to enter their details in return for a service which could be to contact them, receive newsletters etc. This data can with the visitors permission be stored in your database and used in future mailings. This method is considered much better in terms of quality than the above approach as these people have visited your website and are genuinely interested in your product or service.
Business forums – Many business directors take part in local business forums to discuss local trade. These forums commonly distribute a list of its members which can then be used in email marketing.
Competitions – A common way of growing a data list quickly is to hold an online competition where an entrants details are stored (with their permission) in exchange for the chance of winning a prize. While this is a quick way to grow a database, it can also lead to low quality data as the recipients commonly just want to enter the competition and dont consider their answers seriously.
I have held a database for years – I can still use that cant I?
A database can only be efficient successful if the data contained within it is correct and upto date. Over time this data will become out of date due to people moving house, changing their email address etc. This is data degradation is called the churn rate and is estimated to be approx 20 % to 30%. It is important that you constantly refresh your database to keep it current and accurate. If you are purchasing your database it is important to ask when the supplier last updated its databases or else you may be paying for incorrect data. If your database is old then you should consider sending out an email outlining your plans for your email marketing campaign and ask the contacts to opt in.
Is it legal to send marketing to the database I have?
So you have a large database with thousands of contacts and you want to contact them all – are you right to do so and is it against the law?
The current UK law says the following:
Get the subscribers permission by taking a positive action, which is fully informed and freely given before sending any unsolicited commercial email.
There are two exceptions to this rule
1. Unsolicited business to business emails with content that relates to business products and services are permitted but a clear unsubscribe option should always be visible.
2. Unsolicited business to consumer emails can be sent providing that the individual’s contact details were collected through the sale of a product or service or that the customer has opted in to receive emails.
Its important to understand the difference between implied consent and expressed consent. Expressed consent is where the user has specifically ticked a box which requests that they wish to be kept updated on your products and services via email. Please note the customer must make it clear they wish to receive the mails (using details from a competition you held isnt sufficient). Implied consent is where a company assumes because a customer has purchased one of their products and that they have supplied their contact details that they can freely market to them. Both are legal but the success rates vary. For emails sent to customers which expressed consent the success rate is 10 – 20 %. For emails sent to customers for which they have implied consent, the results are 1 – 5 %.
Double opt in’s
The most successful method of requesting your clients opt in to receive marketing emails (based on results) is the double opt in system. This system is where the user opts in to receive emails and is instantly sent a confirmation email. This email asks them to click a link to confirm that they wish to receive the emails. It is only on clicking this link will they receive any marketing information. This method ensures that people understand what they have signed up to and also prevents fraudulent subscriptions.