The core principles of advertising haven’t really changed in centuries. Generally, a business is looking for customers or an audience as it tries to create a persuasive case that their product, service or brand is worth investing in. With the digital age, modern forms of advertising have only really evolved by the way they are delivered. From newspapers in the 1800s, radio and television, direct mail, telemarketing to the modern era of the Internet.
Email has been around since the 1960s and using this form of communication as a vehicle for advertising and promoting products and services is relatively new. In 2016, over 100 billion email messages are sent every day, a staggering number. email marketing is essentially a form of direct mail but without the physical aspect and the high cost of print and delivery. Environmentally friendly and incredibly inexpensive, Email appears to be the perfect way to promote and sell.
There are many different types of email marketing. You may receive a message simply talking about the benefits of a product or service, it could be a message used to strengthen the loyalty between the business and customer or a “hard sell” Email advertising a price drop or a limited time release of something new and something you just “must have”. Another example of digital marketing is regular messages that may send out coupons or special features and discounts trying to lure the recipient into the advertiser’s brick and mortar store.
One of the biggest benefits of electronic marketing is that it can be easily analyzed and tracked. Following an email campaign, specialized software can be used to examine the statistics and effectiveness of the effort. The sender can track how many emails were opened, which region of a country or a city responded the most and how many recipients clicked on any of the links embedded in the message (referred to as the ‘click through rate’). One of the detriments of sending out email marketing is the concept of permission; many times these messages are sent out as unsolicited and may even go against certain laws. In the United Kingdom, the Privacy and Electronic Regulations address the legislation of electronic marketing and can fine the senders of unsolicited emails up to £500,000 depending on severity.
Sending out newsletters at regular intervals can be a very effective means of keeping your clients informed about your business by keeping regular contact. They can include news about the company and relevant articles about the product or service. Many companies provide a service to streamline and simply this type of marketing for free or a small fee. MailChimp is at the forefront of marketing services. This 15-year-old company is a fully fledged Internet email marketing platform and its easy to use web based software allows for:
- Complete design of marketing material with multimedia, hyperlinks, images and text.
- Create and keep track of client information databases and flexibly create multiple lists of recipients.
- Quickly and easily send out your marketing materials to millions of users.
- Analyze the data about the sent emails.
MailChimp web based dashboard.
MailChimp mobile app.
MailChimp can also be integrated with social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and used to gather new customer information and most importantly, the service complies with government anti-spam regulations.
Getting started with MailChimp is incredibly easy, businesses with 2000 or fewer customers can use the service free of charge to send up to 12,000 messages per month. Certain features such as ‘deliver by time zone’, automation, Salesforce integration, onboarding, high volume campaigns and technical support are only available with paid accounts which start at $20/month. The term ‘onboarding’ refers to sending out an email used mainly to make a first impression, extend a welcome to new subscribers and show a few brief notes about what your business has to offer. With the paid plans, automation, allows a business to send out precision messages catered directly to each user’s demographic and buying habits according to previously collected data (gender, age range, geographic location and even currency type).
The emails sent through MailChimp can be easily managed by their recipient whether to unsubscribe, request more information or change the message’s focus on a different product or service
Setting up an account with the service is as simple as answering a few basic questions and after uploading your subscriber list (plain text, CSV, Excel etc.) or manually entering the recipient’s email addresses you’re ready to start your marketing campaign. Keep in mind that MailChimp will only let you email customers who have previously ‘opted in’ and subscribed to receive marketing information from your business. Abiding by this process, it is theoretically not possible to send unwanted (spam) messages to unwilling customers.
The most efficient and easiest method to gather new customers for your email marketing is through your own website or social media. Creating an easy to follow email form on your company’s site is usually enough to obtain email accounts and get people signed up.
Campaign Monitor is another online service that will help you with your digital marketing. After the simple sign up and login you are greeted with your personalized campaign start page.
Campaign Monitor's start page.
Campaign Monitor's easy to follow wizard.
You can choose from countless professional and vibrant email templates.
Online email template editor.
The online editor supports dragging and dropping of images, text and multimedia links and best of all the information is automatically stored and backed up on Marketing Monitor’s servers. Clicking preview will give you a visual representation of exactly what your recipient will receive and once you have entered an email list (or imported a client database), the only thing left is clicking the send button.
Plans range from $9 and go up from there. For the 1st and least expensive tier you are able to send up to 2500 messages. The unlimited email and campaign plan costs $49/month.
This service also supports email automation where your client can receive a number of welcome emails, can sign up for different memberships, subscribe (or unsubscribe) from different service and even send timed reminders all from within the campaign dashboard.
The two mentioned services are the most popular but there are many others. Most of them provide a free trial allowing you to test their effectiveness and ease of use. When done right, proper email marketing can greatly boost the visibility of your business and increase sales. Furthermore, hiring experts to guide your company in the right direction may be very beneficial in the effectiveness of your campaign. Finding the right fit between a good value and return on investment is key and may take some trial and error. Getting a high Click Through Rate (CTR) from your customers will always be challenging and sending out easy to read and properly worded content is very important.
Below is an example of an email designed to get your customer's attention by offering discounts and suggesting urgency.
Electronic advertising can almost be considered an art form as it's used to draw people's attention, play with their emotions and may even provide knowledge and entertainment.