E-mail marketing is counted as one of the most inexpensive and effective marketing techniques today. Almost each one of us has heard of e-mail marketing at some point in our lives and some of us have even used it to generate revenue or promote sales. But what exactly is email marketing? This is one question the answer to which many of us do not know.

email-marketingIn the simplest terms email marketing is the technique or marketing method which employs the use of electronic mail to promote sale, build strong client customer relationship, advertising, asking for donations or generating revenue. As a matter of fact it is the easiest way of staying in touch with your client. Otherwise as well email marketing is popular majorly because it is much more effective, cheaper and reaches mass audience in relatively short period of time as against traditional mail.

To explain the above better let us take an example. Let there be a company Magic Flowers. This company boasts of rare and magical variety of flowers which can be gifted to people to promote peace and harmony. So what this company does is that it compiles a database of people. Magic Flowers than sends out mass mails. The clients if they are interested go to their official site to select a flower of their choice. Sounds easy. Well it is not.

1. Magic Flowers cannot put random people in their mailing list. They will need to do some research about the background of their potential clients. Here the company will have to take care that it is mailing to people who can actually afford the flowers. Next, it need to decide if it is the men or women that it needs to primarily target, if any such discrimination is even required. These people are their suspects i.e. most probably they would be interested but nothing can be said for certain. On a side note e-mail marketers are different from the spammers in the sense that they do a lot of background research before sending mass mails. Because of the research and time involved e-mail marketing is more expensive than spamming but relatively cheaper than any real marketing method.

2. Not all people will be interested in their product even if Magic Flower has got the demographics right. That is because an unexpected mail from an unknown company would actually turn off a potential client. People receive all kinds of mail and being busy they often delete those (even without looking) that rank low in their priority list. One of the solutions of this problem is to only target people who have visited your website and left their mail address behind. Unlike above here you would be mailing the prospect i.e. the person who is actually interested in your product. But here too you have to take care not to turn off your potential client. The solution: have an opt in and opt out option for the potential client.

  •  Opt in option is when you send the client a confirmatory mail that she truly wishes to receive mail from you.If you send a mail without confirmation than there is a huge possibility of your server being reported spam by the addressee.
  • Opt out is when you give your client the option to unsubscribe from the mailing list. If you do not have an opt out option the client would get frustrated and again mark you as spam. This could also include legal hassles depending on the anti-spamming policy of the country.

3. Nowadays there are bulk mail addresses available for sale. Sound exciting. But it has many problems. For one the source might not be legitimate, the addressee might not be interested in receiving the mail and will mark you as spam. Otherwise as well the list might not be of good quality, and since it is compiled by another person, it might not match with your requirement.Also most of these lists are available only for rent. This means that you would never have the physical email addresses yourself but will have to a pay a rent to send mail every time to the source.

4. You also need to decide on the frequency of your mail. It is always better to leave the option to the client. Let her decide if she wants to receive mail from you daily, weekly, fortnightly or on a monthly basis. And if you don’t want to let her decide for herself than think for yourself how many times your client would be interested in reading your mail every month.

For example Magic Flowers would target entrepreneurs, businessmen or people who are rich enough to afford their flowers on a regular basis and open minded enough to be interested in them. But these businessmen most probably receive multitudes of mails daily, and it would only frustrate them if they are forced to read yours daily. The safest option would be fortnightly and monthly.Too much gap –like once in two months will only affect your business negatively. The client would forget about you, or you would simply loose opportunities by not contacting the client at the right time.One also needs to be consistent in sending out mails. After a while the client would get accustomed to receiving your mail and will be mentally prepared for it.

5. For the same reason stated above the template or the design that you use for your mail should also be consistent. It is better not to change the design because it would only confuse the client. Once your design is decided you need to stick to it, or at least try not to change it dramatically.

6. But out of everything mentioned the content of the mail is actually the most important of all. The content of your mail should be informal, engaging and the client should not feel as if her time is being wasted.It is always better to address your client with their names. Also avoid exclamation marks but use words to emphasize. Do not directly or only focus on promotion if you can help it.

a. For example let there be a company Magic Communications and it deals with training people in language. Either it would mail tips and articles regarding speaking or writing a particular language which would interest the client or something of similar nature.This kind of mail is also called the retention mail or a newsletter.  A newsletter may carry promotional messages or advertisements, but will aim at developing a long-term impact on the readers. It should provide the readers with value, which means more than just sales messages. It should contain information which informs, entertains or otherwise benefits the readers.

Though on the sidebars one can have advertisements or adverts.As a matter of fact many newsletters are made primarily to earn revenue through renting spaces for advertisements to other online marketers.

Coming back to Magic Communication, the banner could be about the E-Course offered by them in language training and it could have its price mentioned below tagline. Or maybe it could serve a link to the main page giving information about its benefit and cost to the client. In short, if you solely focus on promoting your product there are chances that your client will be turned off.

b. In contrast Magic Flowers is solely about their product ‘flowers’ and because of this it will always focus  on sending promotional mails to their clients which would basically inform them of the new variety of flowers imported etc.These kinds of mails are called direct mails as against retention mails described above.

c. Another kind of marketing mail is the Transactional email. This kind of email is the actually the response mail for any action taken by the customer. Supposedly if a client orders a flower from Magic Flowers than in response she would not only get a confirmatory message about her transaction with the company but will also be persuaded into looking at other varieties that she could be interested in.

7. Another thing, you need to use as less images as possible and keep the formatting as simple as possible. It is primarily because the spam filters will block your mail if it is highly pictorial. It would also detect drastic changes in text colours and font sizes. Nor can you use words that could be offensive or suggestive in your mail. Spam filters check for specific words and block the mail immediately.

8. Need to remember that email marketing is actually a derivative of the postal marketing or physical mail marketing system. Just as when people who leave for vacations cannot access their mail boxes, likewise people when on holiday would also not check their mail accounts. So it is always better to avoid sending mass mails during the holiday season.

9. And one of the most important task is to test your mail before sending it to people. It should be able to get past the spam filters. As a matter of fact because of the presence of nasty spammers it is always easy to be filtered out by spam filters or to break the many laws which have actually been put into place to punish these spammers. It is very important to be aware of all the anti-spamming laws of the country of your concern in order not to be branded as a spammer yourself.

10. Nowadays there are scores of softwares available that aid you in email marketing. These kinds of softwares provide you with automated management of your mail list, i.e. people can remove and add themselves on their own. There is no need for you to send mass mails manually, they will send out automated mails. They will help you in tracking and reporting the clients’ activities. This will further help in your understanding of your target audience and their needs. Furthermore they also have unique features that can help you in designing and executing your promotional campaigns.

To sum it up email marketing is a powerful tool in the hand of the online marketer but only when it is used effectively.