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Email Marketing

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Email Marketing – Expanding Horizon

Email – the internet’s most powerful application and the main online communication device – is now a main part of online marketing plan.
Email marketing is an expanding art of delivering a message to a targeted audience via e mail. It sells, promotes, informs, reminds and brands. Sending an email is one of the simplest tasks today and it is one of the most cost effective of all the marketing media. Open up your personal email and find quite a variety of offers marketed to you. But then why is it moving at a snail’s pace? Targeted email messages, in terms of click-through links, often deliver responses of 5-15 per cent only. Email marketing is a lot more complicated than sending e mails. One needs customer permission, good lists, creativity, tracking and measuring techniques and customer relationships. When its email there is a thin line of difference between marketing and advertising and very often the mails are considered Spam.

Are they all just Spam?

It’s easy to mistake email marketing as “glorified Spam”. But a few key items differentiate the two. Email marketing requires you to get specific permission from your email targets. The two general categories are Opt- in and Opt –out.

Opt in – For email marketing to be truly opt-in, the target must specifically tell you that he or she wants to get the specific emails that you tell them you are going to send. Seth Godin popularized this as Permission Marketing. Permission is more critical when prospecting with e-mail marketing. Not doing so only risks damaging the brand with spam and kills the potential for any subsequent marketing efforts to the same audience.

Opt out – Opt out means you can email blindly once and ask a “yes, send me this email” box in the registration page. But for most part when people say “opt out” today they refer to Spam with an unsubscribe link. After all “opt out” sounds better than “unsolicited commercial email” or Spam. This has posed a problem to many email marketers as consumer activists and antispam Organizations call for an active opt in as a requirement for commercial email.

As a medium the email is not a problem. But like in all other media it requires the art and science of marketing. Solid email marketing rests on three “legs”- Product, List and Creativity.

Product
Be it any media, however flashy and catchy the banner or ad, the products and services offered the backbone.
• Make the product compelling.
• Have clarity in what you want to sell and what the customer expects.

List
A great offer to the wrong list might as well be Spam. A lot of care needs to be taken while acquiring a list. It’s a lot trickier on the net than in direct mail.

• Clean ‘n’ nourish – As it is in gardening cleaning and nourishing creates all the difference between a garden and a weed patch. A list needs to be built, cared and fed.
• Scrub the list off all duplicate addresses, no longer active emails and disinterested readers.
• Segment the group into small groups by a variety of criteria so that mails can be specifically targeted.
• Every facet of the email list needs to managed. How many and how often the people view the emails, how many of them try out the offer etc. needs careful monitoring.
• Design correct entry and exit strategies. One should remember that email or the brand (offering Company) is not new. Only email marketing is. If each message starts out as if they were the first email the company has ever sent and the emails keep coming for months even when they remain unopened…… the entrance and exit strategies need a good looking in.
• Build relationships – Email is a lot more personal to a consumer’s mind than direct mail.care should be taken to personalize it. This simple acknowledgement of a relationship has tremendous results in building customer advocacy. Though this is a great step it needs to be tread cautiously. Systems can automatically personalize and send emails but if some records in the database are missing or the fields are mixed one can end up with odd message constructions. You can end up getting your friend’s personal investment records and loan recommendations in your mail. Also one should be sensitive to privacy concerns. An email with too much of the recipients’ personal information might seem like an abuse of privacy.

Creativity
Creativity in advertisement refers to the concept, copy and design of an advertising piece. The email messages are designed in three forms. In plain text or HTML, with lots of visuals that are pleasing to the eye or via a link. So the design cannot be explored much. Hence the focus should be in the copywriting.
Message and its delivery- the message and style of the email dictates it to be a success or a failure. A successful message needs to be
Short – keep the message short. If its long winded and forces the reader to scroll down to read chances are he/she may not finish reading the message.

Personalize – readers need to feel a connection with the sender. Addressing someone by name and providing with an offer to their personal interest can produce tremendous results.
Unique – email markets as well as promotes. Hence the subject line needs to be catchy as well as unique. But no hard sell, no hyperbole.
Relevant – A key point is that the message should be relevant. Studies show that in multiple lists slicing up and targeting content increase response rates by as much as 200 per cent.

All these factors when done well will certainly SPUR the customer to take up the offer. A quick look at the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of email marketing would help in better understanding.

Strength
Extreme one to one customization is possible
Any email campaign is traceable at every level
Highly cost effective.
Less effort – mailing is only a click away from the customer.
Increasing customer base.
Weakness
1. Very less response rates.
2. In emails like yahoo the mails might end up in bulk and be considered Spam.
3. Cannot do mass marketing.
4. Email or internet services in India are mainly accessible in cities only.
Published: 2006-07-28
Author: Latha R

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