Email can invite traffic to your site as well as enhance relationships with customers. Like direct mail, opt-in email sends relevant personal information to carefully selected targeted audiences. It pushes tailored messages to hundreds, thousands or even millions in a very cost effective manner.

WARNING! Remember, the email must be opt-in. The recipients must have agreed, given permission or ‘opted-in’ to receiving emails. This ‘Permission Based Marketing’ is far more effective than intrusive marketing.

If the database or target list is not ‘opt-in’ then the email is ‘spam’. Spam is unsolicited, uninvited email and it is ‘the quickest path to commercial suicide’. Not only is it unethical, it is illegal in some countries.

Opt-in email can reach hundreds, thousands or millions of targeted customers quickly and cheaply. Well targeted opt-in email can generate response rates between 5 and 21% compared to direct mail’s 1 – 2%. The accuracy of the targeting is determined by a well kept database or even a carefully hired opt-in email list.

Some marketers feel that opt-in email works better for customer retention that acquisition. Retention means keeping customers – part of Customer Relationship Management, or in this case eCRM. Here a contact strategy or sequence of emails might go out within hours of an enquiry, then 7 days later, then 14 days later, 28 days, 90 days and 6 months later. Alternatively, instead of being date triggered, they can be event triggered, such as bought A and B but not item C. Obviously opt-in email contact strategies have to be integrated into the database.

Email has many variations including:

  • email letters
  • email newsletter
  • email newsletters with hot links
  • email alerts (football scores, stocks and shares, competitive information)
  • interactive email newsletters (where every subscriber can add content)
  • rich email (talking, singing, dancing, video emails)
  • PowerPoint emails

Can you imagine – how clever rich emails can be used as part of a viral marketing campaign? Now get your creative hat on. Imagine the most creative, funny, stunning, interesting or clever rich email idea you can think of – which would be so fascinating that people would love to forward the rich email on to other people.

Finally, well targeted opt-in emails are a winner – For example, every Friday, American Airlines pushes one million emails to subscribers whom actively look forward to the email. They go to work with their weekend bag packed but not knowing where they are going until they see what AA’s email has got to offer for their thrill seeking adventurous weekend.

There are however, some disadvantages or issues associated with email. Firstly, SPAM. It can be perceived as SPAM by a recipient who forgets that they have opted in to some list or other. Or worse, you may have used a list that is not permission based. The cyber world reacts nastily to SPAMMERS by returning email bombs, abuse and possible legal challenges.

As the flood of emails increases many will get lost, deleted unopened and screened out by filtering software set up specifically by organisations to screen out unwanted unsolicited e-mails.

Other users may use filters to separate certain types of incoming emails (e.g. regular newsletters which can be read later from other more ‘action orientated’ files).

Email depends on a well cleaned or updated database. Otherwise the brand gets damaged as customers get angry when their opt-out request is ignored. The database deteriorates and sloppy emarketing begins.

Good marketers are brave enough to continually offer opt-out. The churn rate, that is the numbers that opt-out can also be used to measure the email campaign effectiveness. A reduced churn rate is considered by some to be successful. Either way well targeted opt-in emails generate traffic.

To summarise:

  • email is an effective traffic generator and relationship builder
  • it is essential that email is opt-in, otherwise it is spam
  • experiment with achieving the correct frequency or give customers the choice
  • work hard on email design and maintaining up-to-date databases
  • stay within the law.

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