Don't give up on email marketing

For a while it seemed that email marketing would completely replace 'snail mail' - the more conventional kind of mail that's been around for centuries.

Email offers so much - speed, low cost, ease of response and the ability to send attachments with documents or photographs. It's most certainly a great way to communicate but unfortunately not everyone has used it responsibly.

First came spam ' unsolicited commercial emails that now account for more than 60% of all emails sent. Then came viruses, a variety of scams, and finally legislation that's made it hard for legitimate marketers to use email unless they obtain the recipient's permission before sending anything. Isn't it easier just to revert back to envelopes and postage stamps?

Well, no it isn't. Email is still a powerful marketing tool but it does require some care and feeding to make it work. It begins with an understanding that you have to give in order to receive.

Whatever business you're in, somewhere along the way you have one or more customer 'touchpoints'. These are places where you interact with your customers and prospects, including everything from when they visit your website to when you send out an invoice. These are also valuable opportunities to ask for permission to send someone an email with your marketing message.

But in these privacy conscious times you need to offer people a good reason to give you their email address and accept email communications from you. This is where the clever marketers get the information they need and the not-so-clever wind up with a very small email marketing list.

The first rule to follow is to be open and upfront about asking for permission. Don't try to trick it out of someone by promising something that won't be delivered. 'Complete this survey and go in the draw for $1000' has worn out its welcome and is now a sure way to encourage a press of the 'delete' button.

Have a privacy policy that reassures people their information won't be sold or shared with anyone else ' and be sure to enforce it. Unless you clearly communicate this to people when inviting them to join your mailing list you're almost certainly going to be rejected.

Tell them what you're going to send them by email whether it's product offers or a quarterly newsletter about your business. And give them a reason to want to receive it; this can be anything from genuine savings to information that will make their lives easier. Be inventive and look at it from their point of view. Nobody's really interested in just receiving more advertising.

Give them a choice of subject matter if it's appropriate. Some businesses market a range of products from hardware to clothing and it's wise to offer people the opportunity to designate the subject or subjects they're most interested in.

Be sure you're clearly identified as the sender of the email. This will help avoid getting deleted with all the unwanted communications. Also pay attention to the 'subject' of the emails you send out ' make it as appealing as possible to encourage the recipient to open and read what you've sent them.

Have a CRM or other system in place that correlates what you send out with the orders you get back. This will tell you lots of valuable information including which offers have worked the best and the interests of individual customers. It also provides you with an opportunity to thank customers for their purchases and get some feedback on how satisfied they are with their selection.

Finally, be sure that you're up-to-date with all the relevant legislation that governs what you can and can't do with email marketing. It's a rapidly changing and often confusing environment in which to work and if you're in doubt about anything seek advice from a specialist with expertise in this area.

About RAN ONE
RAN ONE is leading provider of consulting tools for privately owned businesses. We have a unique and powerful range of software products and training available to the accounting profession. To find out how we can help you please don't hesitate to contact us.