Email marketing – according to two reports published early in 2014 – is, beyond all doubt, still a vital component in successful online marketing. If anything, in fact, it’s becoming more important.
The first, from McKinsey & Co, opens with a ringing endorsement: ‘If you’re wondering why marketers seem intent on e-mailing you more and more, there’s a simple explanation: it works. E-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.’
Notice that critical phrase ‘a significantly more effective way to acquire customers’. In other words, these emails are converting contacts into clients.
A little further on there’s another telling statistic: ‘the rate at which e-mails prompt purchases is not only estimated to be at least three times that of social media, but the average order value is also 17 percent higher.’
So we can see that marketing emails are also prompting those new clients to buy.
The McKinsey report related to email in the US, but its results are borne out by another survey from the UK’s own Direct Marketing Association.
In February 2014 they reported that the return on investment from business-to-business email marketing is now running at 2500%. And that from business-to-consumer emails has topped 3000%.
So what’s behind these remarkable figures? Why does email marketing work so well? And – most importantly – how can your business benefit from using it?
Why email marketing works
Our inboxes get more crowded every day. Even so, most people still regard an email as something requiring action. Even if the action is simply to delete the email!
That, in itself, wouldn’t be enough to explain the success of email marketing. That’s probably down to the growing sophistication of email marketers themselves.
Successful email marketing has always been about having the right recipients. About finding people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer – people who (sooner or later) are likely to become paying customers. In our experience, a good list makes for a successful campaign – but it needn’t stop there…
How email marketing can work for you
Step one – as we’ve already noted – is to have a good list in the first place. So how do you get one? The answer (usually) is that you need to work for it.
Buying a list ‘off the shelf’ may sound very attractive, but the results are usually disappointing. I’ve known emails sent to bought-in lists that didn’t get a single response.
Sometimes we’ve sent the same email to two lists – one bought-in, and one the client had worked up from known contacts. In these cases we’ve always seen substantially more response from the opted-in list. Which is hardly surprising!
For tips on creating your own opt-in list, take a look at my earlier article on Email marketing opt-ins – and five tips about getting them.
Step two is to tailor your content – very carefully – to your target audience. Whatever you send must be relevant to them, and to their particular needs.
So how can you tell if you’re hitting the mark?
One very good way is to link your newsletter to a blog like this one. Just offer ‘teaser’ clickthroughs to different types of article. The statistics you get back from each broadcast will tell you which articles aroused the most interest. Then you just need to ensure there are more articles like those!
A more sophisticated approach is to ‘segment’ your list. Find out (perhaps with a survey) what individual customers are most interested in, and send a targeted newsletter to just those customers. Some may well be interested in more than one topic. So it’s worth staggering your delivery of the newsletters so they don’t, for example, get two or three different ones on the same day.
And step three is to test and measure. As well as the statistics from your newsletter broadcasts, take a look at what’s happening on your website for the two or three days after you’ve sent a broadcast. Are you getting more visitors? Which pages are they looking at? How long are they staying? And are you getting more serious enquiries than usual?
If you’re using a segmented list, which part of it produces the best results for your business?
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