in the fast paced world of internet marketing, there’s always new technology and tools constantly competing for the savvy marketer’s attention. Social media is perhaps the most obvious example of a recent development that has caused business to rethink the way they interact with customers online. With so much development and movement within the market, it is increasingly easy to get distracted from what works by whatever the current buzz is surrounding.

It is the reason why email marketing simply doesn’t sound all that ‘sexy’ nowadays. While it was once the darling of online business, it has fallen by the wayside for many companies in favour of focusing on new avenues.

This is a mistake.

In 2018, email marketing is still one of the most effective means of maintaining a relationship with your customer base. Most every company that can claim a measure of success online can point some of the credit towards their email marketing strategy.

In the cult 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross,  Ed Harris bemoans the loss of the old, more successful way of being salesman to a sympathetic Alan Arkin; Instead he advocates a more long term line of thought – “You don’t sell one car to a guy, you sell him 5 cars over fifteen years.”.

At its heart, email marketing benefits from this simple fact of selling: It is easier (and cheaper!) to sell to existing customers with whom you have already established a relationship, than it is to do the same with new prospects.

To ignore email marketing is to make online success more difficult and more costly.

Email Marketing Benefits

Simplicity

While it is possible to become highly nuanced and complex in your approach to email marketing (and such an approach certainly pays dividends), setting up email marketing is as easy as getting an email address. By slowly developing your mailing list you can steadily build up a valuable list of prospects and engage with them at the click of a button.

Low Cost

Consider the costs of display advertising and pay per click. Certainly these methods have their place (it is very hard to grow new business with email marketing, for example), but compared to email marketing they can be considerably more expensive.

Easily Tracked

The number of emails sent, the number opened, the number clicked, resultant sales and more are all easily tracked in email marketing.

Speed of Response

Email is a near instantaneous delivery service. There’s very little lag time between delivery and response.

Ease of Testing

Thanks to the previous two benefits, it is very easy to test email. You can try different subject lines, different content, different calls to action. Even if you don’t split test your emails you can still quickly, and easily discover the performance differences from one mail out to the next and make continued improvements as necessary.

Targeting & Personalisation

With a little forethought you can segment your email database. Use what knowledge you have collected on your customers to target emails to them specifically. For instance if you run an online DVD store and you know you have a group of visitors who only buy science fiction movies, write them specific content tailored to that interest; such targeting and personalisation results in higher response rates and increased sales.

Maintain Relationships

While branding is not the main goal of email marketing, a consistent, ongoing campaign can maintain brand relevance in your buyers mind. Rather than be that ‘store’ they bought that ‘thing’ from oh so long ago, you can be first to mind when it comes to buying similar products because the visitor is used to seeing your brand in their inbox.

Cross Selling

Imagine you have a product that requires some form of refill. For instance, let’s say you sell automated air fresheners online. These products need to be refilled periodically to be of any use to the owner. Email marketing would be an excellent tool in this scenario to contact past customers to remind them now would be a good time to replenish their supplies. This form of marketing can work extremely well to sell additional products to existing customers.

Getting Read

One of the biggest problems facing businesses when it comes to email marketing is ensuring that visitors actually open your emails and read them.

Subject Lines Are Everything
Your chosen subject line has considerable impact on whether or not your email gets read. Not only is it one of the areas checked by anti-spam software to determine email validity, it is also the only thing your recipient will see when they first see your email in their inbox. Your heading must be compelling; it needs to speak to some core benefit of this particular email. Avoid vague or general statements in favour of specific benefit driven subject lines.

Create Value

All too frequently, email marketing is employed as it should be nothing but product lists. Now for some stores this approach will work quite well, for others a little something else is needed before you become a welcome addition to your recipient’s inbox.

If you are a niche product website this can be made especially easy by including educational, entertaining, or informative content as part of your send outs. Include tutorials, help information or entertaining content whenever the opportunity arises. Make your emails the kind of thing that people want to read as opposed to just being yet another form of advertising.

Email Strategies

Of course, being set up to contact your customer database is just part one of the story. You also need a strategy in place.

Many ecommerce stores rely on the tried and tested method of sending our product listings in the form of newsletters, to let visitors know about new products and sales.

While this is certainly a very effective method of getting traffic back to the website, it is not the only form of email marketing strategy that can be employed.

The following list just some of the ways in which you can utilise your email marketing platform to drive online sales.

Welcome Programs

You can have significant impact on customer engagement by officially welcoming them to your list. Consider the development of a series of emails that welcomes the visitor to the site and provide advice about how to get the most out of the site experience. Reinforce your brand value and offer up informative content that will really help visitors. You can even reward your visitors for signing up by offering discount coupons. Just be careful with the last point and make sure that offer isn’t immediately going out to visitors who have just subscribed by making a purchase – this may leave them feeling cheated.

Anniversary Programs

Pay attention to your customers and reward them for their participation in your marketing strategies. One particularly effective means of achieving this is by sending out an email on your customer’s birthday. Give them a gift such as a discount coupon. Not only will this leave the recipient feeling appreciated, they may just use that offer to purchase something, adding more value to your email marketing ROI.

Re-Engagement

With the right tools it is possible to track how long it’s been since a particular customer has purchased from your website. By sending out an email series after a certain period of inactivity (what determines a concerning period of inactivity will vary from industry to industry) you can reengage customers by inviting them back to the site and giving them a reason to do so such as a discount coupon or other offer.

Special Personalised Emails

Make use of customer buying data. Every time you have a sale or a new product with the potential to be popular amongst certain market segments, send out a special email personalised to that specific target group. Your email database will appreciate that you’ve been paying attention to what they consider relevant and will be much more likely to act on your communication in a way that positively effects your bottom line.

Conclusion

Email marketing can be an extremely powerful tool for your business but it must be used correctly. Don’t just limit your potential to increase revenue through this traffic source to the occasional newsletter. You need to commit to this strategy but even more importantly, for it to be a true success, you need to think a little outside of the traditional thinking box.

With the right technology and email strategy you can see this traffic source become one of the most powerful drivers of business to your website.

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