Posts Tagged ‘email’

Advanced Expectations: New Developments in Email Marketing

The modern-day drive in marketing, particularly e-mail marketing, is concerned with the implications of the hyper-consumption experiences being identified within an emergent consumer branded the ‘expectation economy’. The expectation economy refers to a new-style economy that is characterized by well-informed consumers who have high expectations with regard to services and products, and who place a high premium on a superior buying experience. Over the years, the modern consumer has acquired specialist know-how through continuous self-training and in the process of hyperconsumption and exposure to new dynamic lifestyle models, has come to expect not only superior standards of quality but expects ‘best of the best’. The readily available always-on information networks have also promoted this new-style consumer culture that expects “only the best” and is not satisfied with just basic standards in services and products.

These high expectation trends in marketing also apply to the advancement and evolution of email marketing. Instead of simply sending batches of emails to random customers and prospects, the trend in recent years has been to rather develop strategic and sophisticated “smart” emailing campaigns. For example, the successful email marketer focuses on promotional methods to facilitate increasing customer response as well as stimulate conversion and retention rates. This is achieved through a combination of personalization, segmentation and “triggers.” In other words,” Increasingly segmented and triggered emails will be driven by behavioral data, such as which specific links a recipient clicked, whether someone did or did not open an email, what pages they visited on the company’s Web site or whether they did or did not make a purchase or take a specific action”. (http://www.emaillabs.com/email_marketing_articles/article_2005_email_marketing_trends.html) This process is often automated by companies using software to integrate email data with other customer data via an API (Application Protocol Interface)

Email marketing has also advanced beyond conventional technologies, with marketers switching between plain text and HTML formats. Some pundits state that, “E-mail's role is changing, the technology is advancing, and its horizons are broadening”. (http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3627210) Similarly, audio and video email has become a distinct possibly. These new modes of email marketing are aimed at enlarging and expanding the possibilities of email marketing. Yet, it was previously thought that these technologies were not practical because the size of audio and video mail had a negative impact on download times. However, both these new formats, and especially video emails, have become feasible because of the increase in bandwidth availability. Even in less developed countries, there has been a substantial increase in the required speed and bandwidth to deal with larger email formats.

A number of companies offer audio email services to the Webmaster and marketer and are hyping it as the “new wave” in increasing consumer response to email advertising. This is often referred to as “talking email” and offers a more direct and dramatic means of communication with the client or customer. Companies like Expedite Email Marketing suggest that, “By adding your voice, sound or music into your email marketing campaigns, you will set your email message apart from the rest”.

While many assume that simply adding an audio component to your email advertisement will improve click through rates, it should be borne in mind that the same problems that hinder mass mail marketing apply to this form of marketing. Simply adding technology without a well-planned marketing strategy in place that clearly identifies the key objective of the exercise will probably not do much to improve returns and customer response rates. As many pundits suggest, the art of effective email marketing requires focused selection and targeting of customer demographics and needs. Of course, one can create one’s own audio or video email attachment. However, the process can be slightly complex in terms of format and streaming audio and video; this area of expertise will be dealt with in more detail in future articles on this subject.

The features and advantages of audio email marketing include: The audio plays automatically once the email is opened; research has shown that an increased response rate results from the more intimate feel that audio communication provides the recipient in comparison to conventional text-based email messaging. The addition of music can also add impetus to any marketing campaign.

Video marketing is another advanced form of email marketing that has become increasingly popular over the last few years. However, this very exciting mode of communicating one’s advertising message to the customer is not without certain problem areas that one should be aware of. Video clips are usually not embedded or included directly in the email, as this would make the size of the download excessive for the ordinary user. Instead, video is usually linked to external sources that play on opening or by activating a link within the body of the email. The problem lies in the fact that to play external video the recipient of the email must access a plug-in application -- such as Windows Media or Macromedia Flash. Unfortunately, many email clients, like Microsoft Outlook, disable these plug-in options as default. There are however, ways around this problem and several companies such as VISMAIL (VisMail.com) and Pixelfish (PixelFish.com) offer technology to circumvent these problems. Conversely, marketers claim that video email works well as an effective marketing tool, as most users today have the required plug-ins actively installed to facilitate immediate application. Flash technology has also been used to implement email marketing as this often has a much lower download size.

Reports and studies on the use of video email marketing are encouraging. One such report states that, “Video e-mail recently made a comeback. While there are many recommended best practices for when and how to use video e-mail, the bottom line in early results show response rates (opens and clicks) 3 to 10 times higher than those for static e-mail.” (http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3625573) Research also shows that this form of email marketing increases landing page traffic and conversions.

The bottom line however with these more advanced forms of email marketing is that quality is more important than quantity. Building lists of thousands of email addresses as part of a marketing campaign has little worth if these addresses have not been selected with specific target clients in mind. As a pundit puts it; “Building a list of 10,000 names is not a goal. What value you are adding? You can offer quality content and something of value to the recipient, but that doesn't mean it's going to generate ROI." (http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3627210) Both audio and video email marketing have another advantage – they effectively promote viral marketing. Viral marketing is a method of encouraging recipients to pass along the marketing message to other potential consumers. The impact of video email and the quality of the information presented can facilitate the proliferation of this form of personalized marketing. There is also every indication from recent studies of the modern online environment that video and audio email marketing can have a marked increase on traffic and attract emergent hyper-consumption clients and customers that form part of the burgeoning ‘expectation economy’.

The Three Secrets to Profitable Email Marketing

Copyright (c) 2008 Don R. Crawley

Legitimate email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and prospects. It's inexpensive, fast, efficient, and environmentally friendly. Email marketing allows you to target your customers and prospects by their particular interests, it allows you quickly announce special promotions (either planned promotions or impromptu promotions based on changing conditions). Email is the perfect way to send a monthly newsletter. Email marketing's efficiency was underscored in a study by the Direct Marketing Association which found that in 2005 email marketing returned an amazing $57.25 in revenue per dollar spent on it!

How can you get started with email marketing? Start by collecting your customers' email addresses. Even if you don't currently do email marketing, gather your customers' email addresses now so that, when you decide to start communicating with your customers via email, you'll already have a good list. Have a sign-up sheet at each of your checkout counters or at your reception desk. Be sure to include a sign-up form on your website. Offer an incentive such as a monthly drawing from the collected email addresses. Be sure to include a privacy statement on your forms and sign-up sheets such as, "Privacy notice: We don't share your information with anyone." (Of course, that means you can't share that information ever.) Remember, email addresses are free (or very inexpensive) to gather.

Now, the three secrets to making email marketing a winner for your business.

Secret number one: Do only "permission-based" email marketing. In other words, only send email to people who have requested your email messages and make it easy to opt-out of future emails. There is a slimy side to email marketing thanks to spammers. Obviously, you want to be associated with the reputable side of email marketing. If a customer, a prospect, or a site visitor willingly provides their email address, you're not spamming. If you get it any other way, you're spamming. A commonly used technique for dealing with subscription requests from your website is called a "double-opt-in". A double-opt-in requires the individual to first request your email marketing, then a confirmation request is sent to their email address. They must click a link in the confirmation email or otherwise confirm their desire to receive your email before they're added to your list. The rule is simple: If in doubt, don't send it out.

Secret number two: Make your email marketing messages compelling for the reader. Keep them short and to-the-point and ensure that the recipient will see the value in whatever you're saying. Increasingly, people are becoming distrustful of "hypie" messages that sound like they were written by an advertising copy writer. Make your message real, make it personal, and make it deliver a benefit from the readers' perspective. If there's nothing in it for them, they'll just delete your message or possibly even report it as spam.

Secret number three: Be consistent. Whether you choose to send an email campaign every week, every month, or every quarter, be consistent. One very successful email marketer even includes these words at the top of every email he sends: "Sent the third Tuesday of every month..." Your consistency in your marketing efforts reflects your dependability as a company.

What about the mechanics of email marketing? Many very small businesses just use their regular email accounts. Such a solution can work, but it doesn't scale well as your email list and business grow. It also requires you to manage your new subscribers and unsubscribe requests. A better solution is to use a commercial email marketing service. Such companies provide templates to make your messages look professional. They also provide tracking information on how many messages were actually opened and read, automatic opt-out links on your marketing messages, tutorials, assistance in complying with the CAN-SPAM act, and more. Costs start at about $10 per month and go up from there based on various criteria such as the size of your list and the frequency with which you send messages. Most such companies provide a free trial period so you can get familiar with their service. There are many email marketing companies, but here are three for you to consider: iContact (www.icontact.com), GetResponse (www.getresponse.com), and Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com).

Make sure you're compliant with the CAN-SPAM act. Of course, this is not legal advice (I'm no lawyer!), but compliance means being honest in your subject lines about the content of the message, including an easy opt-out method in every message, and including your complete contact information in every message.

Regardless of how you decide to do your email marketing, now is the time to start gathering email addresses. Email marketing, done properly, is flexible, affordable, efficient, and potentially very profitable for your business.

President and chief technologist at Seattle, Washington-based IT training firm soundtraining.net, Don R. Crawley is a speaker, writer, and veteran IT guy with over 35 years experience in technology for the workplace. Today, he delivers keynote speeches and seminars to business people on how to go digital without going postal. Call him at 206.988.5858. He's online at www.doncrawley.com and blogs at www.digitalnotpostal.com .

Why Use Email Marketing

In 1867 the Pony Express made its fastest delivery - 7 days and 17 hours. The route: St. Joseph Missouri to Sacramento California. The average speed: 10 miles per hour.

The message was President Lincoln's Inaugural Address.

The riders were from 11 to 40 years old and all weighed less than 125 lbs. To make this delivery, horses had to be changed every 10 to 15 miles.

By contrast, the US Postal Service delivery now takes at least a day, longer the farther away from the destination, Federal Express can get it there overnight by 10am the next business day.

Chances are many of you will leave this meeting and go back to your office where you will open an email that was sent from across the nation, maybe even around the globe within a matter of minutes. Only a fax machine can compare to the speed of email.

The simple truth is that of the 94 Million American Adults that use the internet every day, the number one reason for going online is to check their email. According to a DoubleClick survey, 81% of internet users go online daily to check email. That's too big a number to ignore.

Why is email so popular?

Because it's easy, fast, cheap, direct and it elicits and immediate response. When you add email to your marketing mix you spend less time, money and resources than with traditional marketing vehicles like direct mail or print advertising.

From a marketing standpoint, email was initially primarily used for gaining new customers - often via spam techniques. It has since shifted to promotional and customer relationship marketing.
Consumers expect emails to confirm transactions and shipping, and they are open to the ideas of their email addresses being used to promote ancillary offers.

Customer service is another area of opportunity for email.

According to an October 2004 Doubleclick survey, nearly 8 out of 10 consumers have used email for customer service. A consumer expects a service inquiry response immediately but up to 24 hours is acceptable.

More than that, businesses spend 80% of their marketing budget on gaining new customers but cultivating the current customer base costs less and generates greater revenue. Every email contact with a prospect or customer is a marketing opportunity in that is it a brand building and relationship building tool.

So what is the difference between an effective email marketing campaign and one that is tainted?

The email recipient is the sole decision maker of what constitutes spam. And the recipient pays for the email. Among the top reasons an email is deemed to be spam: Deceptiveness and unknown senders (of course), frequency and irrelevancy (even though permission was granted).

 

1) You must have some relationship with the recipients. Relationship is a broad term in the eyes of the FCC.

If, for example, you have a list of email addresses belonging to people who are members of the same affiliation or organization as you that can constitute a relationship. If you have a list of email addresses belonging to people who have previously done business with you that constitutes a relationship. If someone has emailed you asking for information about your product or service, that constitutes a relationship.

The ultimate relationship is the opt-in list, people who have specifically requested or "opted” to receive email from you.

When you email these groups, it's a good idea to make it clear what the affiliation or relationship is to lessen the risk of being considered spam.

Bottom line: relevant, valuable emails sent to people who asked or agreed to get them are the best people to market to via email.

2) Second, you must have an opt-out on each and every email. The best way to handle it is an automated process so you won't have to deal with finding each address one at a time to remove them from the list. This is one of the reasons why many companies use a broadcast email service to handle email marketing.

Use a Broadcast Service

Another reason to use a broadcast service is that the email sent does not disclose the addresses of the people to which the email was sent. This an important privacy issue.

Many professionals are under the impression that Outlook will hide the addresses to which the email was sent. This is not the case.

 

Design for the Recipient

When designing an email for marketing the first thing to consider is the recipient, of course.
Different email programs will interpret your message differently. For example, there are web based email programs like Horde and SquirrelMail that will not read images so the email is either garbled or filtered out as spam. (sckansas email handout)

Other email programs offer the option of viewing or not viewing images. So your email may show up with several blank spaces.

The solution is to have 2 versions of the email that are sent in tandem. That way the email program of the recipient can determine which version to display.
Know What Words to Use (Examples 1 / 2 & Triggers)

Another thing to consider is the subject line. Because of the words that trigger spam filters, the subject line as well as the message needs to be free of these words - in fact the word free is often a trigger. The header cannot be misleading either.

The Message

When structuring the message, again you have to remember to stay away from certain words, phrases or dollar signs. Now this part can get to be challenging. This is why you may see legitimate emails with special characters.

Email messages should be concise, to the point and carry a strong call to action. The idea is to get the recipient to interact with your company so give them plenty of opportunities and incentives to do so.

Remember, email is a brand building opportunity so be sure that you reinforce brand messages, encourage communication and interaction through links to the supporting website and reply to email addresses.

Track the Results

Be sure to track performance of your email marketing program. This is yet another reason to use a broadcast email service. Through third party services you have the ability to see how many people opened the email, how many people clicked the various links in the email etc. This also allows you to better target your emails to a specific audience or give more information that the recipients are genuinely interested in.

Like any advertising, email must be done consistently. And, like many marketing strategies, the program must flex to any new challenges or new opportunities. Don't be afraid to vary the format, timing and offers to find the email that works best for your company. And definitely integrate email marketing along with any other marketing - loyalty programs, print ads etc. "join our email newsletter and get even more discounts, savings etc."
-----------------------

This article written by Teajai Kimsey, Interenet Marketing Strategist, Ideas That Work - May 2005. First presented to the Wichita Professional Communicators, May 2005
It may be reproduced and reprinted provided the author's information including web link is kept intact.

Teajai "T J" Kimsey is an internet marketing strategist and the founder of Advanced Web Strategies Inc, (Beyond Web Design) an internet advertising agency serving over 300 clients with a full range of online services including web development, custom programming, search engine marketing and all channels of online marketing and marketing integration.
She is recognized as a leader in internet marketing having been a featured expert on the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce website, a featured contributor to the Wichita Independent Business Association newsletter, and featured as the expert on 2 episodes of Minding Your Own Business, a statewide television program.

Teajai has also taught as an adjunct at Wichita State University and Cowley County Community College. She has been featured in a number of articles and called upon as an expert on internet related topics in the Wichita Eagle and Wichita Business Journal.

Teajai holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Friends University, 24 hours towards a Master of Science in Management and has recently begun the path to earning a Doctorate in Human Factors Psychology, specializing in human computer interaction.

Email Marketing: 5 Reasons You Must Start Doing it Today

Do you want to market your business for fractions of a penny per message?

Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to your small business. You can achieve outstanding results with email marketing, while investing only a small amount of time and money. Combine that with the potential to target more precisely than direct mailings, that's a real win for the small business owner.

In tough economic times, it is crucial to continue marketing your business, and maximize the marketing dollars you're spending. Email marketing is a perfect way to keep your business in front of your customers' and prospects eyes!

Sometimes, people unfamiliar with email marketing get nervous about it because the first thing they think about is spam, or they've heard that most people don't open their email, right?

Wrong.

Targeted mailings that pique interest result in high email open rates, and an opportunity to build relationships with your customers and make some sales. As for the spam issue, mailing only to people who have given you permission to do so minimizes the risk of being labeled a "spammer". Using myself as an example, I have mailed thousands of emails to my clients, and prospective clients, and have not had one spam complaint.

Following is a list of five reasons you must start email marketing now!

1. Email marketing is inexpensive.

Email marketing is an affordable way to stretch a tight marketing budget. Unlike direct mail, there is virtually no production, materials or postage expense. Email marketing can cost as little as fractions of a penny per email.

The expenses involved in email marketing involve having a hosted website with email capacity. You may also want to consider subscribing to a list management service, such as Constant Contact or aWeber, to help manage your email campaigns. The fees for this service range from about $15 to $20 per month, which includes unlimited emails.

2. Email marketing is highly targeted.

You can easily segment your email database into different groups, so that your promotions go to individuals most likely to respond to your offer. For example, you may send one offer to existing clients, and send a different one to prospects who've expressed interest in your products or services.

3. Email marketing is proactive.

Email marketing enables you to proactively communicate with your existing customers and prospects, instead of passively waiting for them to return to your website or storefront.

It is a highly effective way to communicate promotional offers, news, seminars, which may result in an increase in sales, drive traffic to your website or store, and develop customer trust and loyalty through relationship building.

Sending out a monthly email campaign will keep your business in front of your customers' and prospects eyes.

4. Email marketing generates an immediate response.

Promotional emails include a call to action that can result in immediate responses. Initial campaign responses generally occur within 48 hours of the time the email campaign is sent; testing and refining your campaigns is immediate. If you use a list management service, you can gauge the open rates of your email campaigns, which provides useful and immediate information you can use to tweak your campaign messages.

5. Email marketing is easy.

The Web-based email marketing products available to small businesses are easy to use. The services available through Constant Contact and aWeber, as well as others, include professional HTML templates, list segmentation and targeting capabilities, as well as automatic tracking and reporting of your email campaign effectiveness, such as for open rates, bounces, and spam reports.

If you're not a "techie", have no fear. You don't need a Webmaster or technical person on staff to handle the development and distribution of your email campaigns.

Email marketing works because it allows precise targeting of your marketing message, it builds loyalty and trust with your customers, it is inexpensive, and best of all, it drives sales. Include email marketing in your arsenal of marketing tools!

Copyright 2008, Bonita L. Richter

Bonita L. Richter, MBA, teaches coaches, consultants, and solo professionals how to market their businesses to increase sales , income, and generate wealth. To download her popular and *FREE* Money and Marketing spreadsheet tools, and BONUS gifts visit ===> http://www.Profit-Strategies.biz/Templates.html

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