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Email marketing – vital to your business

Email marketing – according to two reports published last year – is, beyond all doubt, a vital component in successful online marketing. If anything, in fact, it’s becoming more important.

The first, from McKinsey & Co, opens with a ringing endorsement: ‘If you’re wondering why marketers seem intent on e-mailing you more and more, there’s a simple explanation: it works. E-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.’

Notice that critical phrase ‘a significantly more effective way to acquire customers’. In other words, these emails are converting contacts into clients.

A little further on there’s another telling statistic: ‘the rate at which e-mails prompt purchases is not only estimated to be at least three times that of social media, but the average order value is also 17 percent higher.’

So you can see that marketing emails are also prompting those new clients to buy.

The McKinsey report related to email in the US, but its results are borne out by another survey from the UK’s own Direct Marketing Association.

In February 2014 they reported that the return on investment from business-to-business email marketing was running at 2500%. And that from business-to-consumer emails had already topped 3000%.

So what’s behind these remarkable figures? Why does email marketing work so well? And – most importantly – how can your business benefit from using it?

Why email marketing works

Our inboxes get more crowded every day. Even so, most people still regard an email as something requiring action, even if the ‘action’ is simply to delete the email!

That, in itself, wouldn’t be enough to explain the success of email marketing. That’s probably down to the growing sophistication of email marketers themselves.

Successful email marketing has always been about having the right recipients. About finding people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. People who (sooner or later) are likely to become paying customers. In my experience, a good list makes for a successful campaign – but it needn’t stop there…

How email marketing can work for you

Step one is to have a good list in the first place.

So how do you get one? The answer (usually) is that you need to work for it.

Buying a list ‘off the shelf’ may sound very attractive, but the results are usually disappointing. I’ve known emails sent to bought-in lists that didn’t get a single response.

Sometimes I’ve sent the same email to two lists – one bought-in, and one the client had worked up from known contacts. In these cases, I’ve always seen substantially more response from the opted-in list. Which is hardly surprising!

Step two is to tailor your content – very carefully – to your target audience. Whatever you send must be relevant to them, and to their particular needs.

So how can you tell if you’re hitting the mark?

One very good way is to link your newsletter to a blog like this one. Use your newsletter to offer ‘teaser’ clickthroughs to different types of article. The statistics you get back from each broadcast will tell you which of them aroused the most interest. Then you just need to write more articles like those!

A more sophisticated approach is to ‘segment’ your list. Find out (perhaps with a survey) what individual customers are most interested in, and send a targeted newsletter to just those customers. Some may well be interested in more than one topic. So it’s worth staggering your delivery of the newsletters so they don’t, for example, get two or three different ones on the same day.

And step three is to test and measure. As well as the statistics from your newsletter broadcasts, take a look at what’s happening on your website for the two or three days after you’ve sent a broadcast.

Are you getting more visitors? Which pages are they looking at? How long are they staying? And are you getting more serious enquiries than usual? If you’re using a segmented list, which part of it produces the best results for your business?

And does size matter?

Not really. You don’t need a big list to get good results – quality matters far more than quantity.

One of my first clients had over 4,500 contacts but told me he’d be happy to whittle that down to just 250 – because they’d be his key networking contacts and the ones who would do the most for his business.

Another valued client has a list of just 100 names on her distribution list – yet achieves a nominal opening rate of over 50%, which could be as much as 75% in real terms. Unsurprisingly she’s always had a great response to her newsletters!

Like to know more? Then do take a look at my website on www.millhousemedia.co.uk or drop me an email on [email protected].

Allan ScottOver the last 30 years,  Allan Scott has built an enviable reputation as a copywriter, editor, scriptwriter, and speechwriter, gaining experience across the board in industry, commerce, finance, and the public sector. He is also a published novelist, and his debut story The Ice King (1984), co-written with Michael Scott Rohan, predicted the birth of the internet – so, unsurprisingly, he took a keen interest in its possibilities right from the start. Most recently he has focused on producing high-quality email newsletters as a complete, managed service for a fast-growing client base. www.millhousemedia.co.uk

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