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Email Marketing Fundamentals

Article Reproduced Permission of Marketing Find

What is one of the first tasks you undertake when you arrive at the office? Chances are you read your email. Email use is rising fast. According to Forrester Research, over 35 percent of Internet user time is spent with email. What is most interesting is that we even check our work email while on vacation and during the weekend. It has become a part of our every day lives.

With people spending so much time on email, there is an enormous opportunity to market to them and build solid customer relationships. According to the 2001 eMail Marketing Report by eMarketer, total email spending in the US exceeded $1 billion for the year 2000. It is predicted that this number will increase to approximately $4.6 billion by the end of 2003. Email has emerged to become one of the most profitable and economical ways to manage customer relationships, presenting marketers with many opportunities and benefits.


Low Cost - Email advertising is the most cost-effective way to reach customers. When you consider how much money you spend on traditional marketing vehicles, the value of email marketing is evident. For instance, you do not have to worry about production, the use of materials or postage - as you do for direct mail. What is most attractive is that you market to an audience that will receive your message and likely respond to it because they have provided permission to accept it.

Targeted and Qualified Audience - When you create your own email list (as opposed to buying it) it means you follow a process whereby you contact your intended audience and gain permission to use their email address for future communications from your company. No list is more targeted or qualified. Because these individuals have agreed to accept a message from you, it is likely that they will read the message and take part in a particular action, whether it is to simply visit your site or make a purchase. This type of marketing is very effective – particularly when you consider direct marketing or other forms of traditional advertising where you spend large amounts to reach an audience that may never receive your message.

Fast, Efficient and Effective - Developing an email campaign is not as resource hungry as other marketing activities. You simply develop the message, identify your audience and send the message. There is also the flexibility to alter the message for different audience groups. For example, you may send a message informing recent buyers about a sale you are having. Then, you may add a coupon to this message for customers who have visited your store but have not yet made a purchase. This flexibility is not available with other marketing vehicles, which require various resources to implement. Email marketing also generates immediate responses since the call to action is within the message and provides an easy response mechanism for customers. For example, all they have to do is click on a link.

Personalized Communication - Email marketing is a proactive medium to maintain contact with customers and build relationships with them. Leveraging information from past interactions, you can identify where your customers are in the buying process and engage them with regular communication that is tailored to their needs with personalized messages and timely information. You can deliver information that provides the most satisfaction to them and is most profitable to you.

For instance, you may remind customers about a sale you are having, invite them to a customer appreciation night or alert them with new product notifications. By personalizing the customer experience you can maximize existing relationships and turn prospects into long-term, loyal and profitable customers.

Easy to Track and Evaluate - Traditional marketing campaigns can take months to plan, implement and evaluate. For instance, to roll-out a direct mail campaign it would take weeks to develop the content, organize production and mail the promotion. Then, there is a period of time when you wait and see if your campaign brought any results. Have people visited your web site? Have they visited your store? Have they made a purchase? What exactly is the return on investment? Measurement of the effectiveness of the campaign is limited. Email marketing campaigns can be executed within days and results tracked immediately. Using various software packages, you can determine how many customers received the email, how many opened it and how many bought a product because of your message.

The low cost, efficiency, and personalized nature of email marketing provides substantial opportunity to reach all your marketing objectives, whether it be to increase sales, improve brand awareness, or drive site traffic.

Increase Sales - In addition to providing an easy means to send out coupons, discounts and other promotions, email marketing enables you to provide a solid call-to-action to a specific offer, which is easy to take advantage of. If you want to increase sales, a strong offer is central to the success of your email campaign. It’s also effective to include e-commerce functionality within the email to shorten the sales process.

Improve Brand Awareness - Email provides an easy medium through which to gain the attention of a large audience, particularly if your message is entertaining, compelling, or unique. The trick is to improve the association of your message with the branding of your company. For instance, if your audience is primarily young and have a carefree attitude, you may provide a promotion to win an outdoor adventure vacation.

Drive Site Traffic - If you want to increase your site traffic, email marketing provides an easy and effective avenue through which to entice people to your site. Attract attention to your site with a sample of the benefits your business provides. Provide content that will attract the audience’s attention and encourage customers to check your site for more information. Entice them with free offers, humor, or entertaining tools.


The biggest challenge with email marketing is the collection and maintenance of email addresses. To have a successful email campaign you need to qualify your email addresses and ensure you have your customer’s permission to use their address - otherwise the long-term costs could negatively impact your business success.

Qualify - How can you ensure an email address on your list belongs to a particular person? How can you ensure the email address is correct? When you compose a list of email addresses it is necessary to qualify each one. There are many techniques to test the quality of the addresses you gather. For instance, you may send an automatic email telling the customer that they have been added to your mail list and ask them to confirm their acceptance. Or, you can have the customer provide their address twice to reduce entry mistakes.

Inform and Gain Permission - Adding email addresses to your customer files requires that you inform customers on how you plan to use their address and obtain permission to do it. If you do not follow this process, the long-term results could result in lawsuits, and wasted marketing dollars trying to reach people who do not want to receive your messages. You may also be labeled a ‘spammer’, which can affect your business reputation and image.

Maintain Lists - Email addresses are perishable pieces of information. What may be the correct email address for a customer one day may be different the next. According to NFO Research Group (2000), 32 percent of consumers change their email address each year. Therefore, it is important to ensure you maintain contact with customers and provide then with easy methods to update their address. It is also important to re-establish email purposes. For instance, if the customer has agreed to accept information on product sales, this does not mean they are open to accepting other forms of communication, such as a newsletter. You will need to re-affirm what your customers have agreed to accept so you do not anger them or risk jeopardizing your company image.

Email Marketing Campaign Steps

  • Collect Addresses
  • Obtain Permission
  • Determine Objectives
  • Identify the Audience
  • Determine the Message
  • Track and Measure
  • Maintain Lists

Email Marketing Fundamentals Continued

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