Email Marketing - A Spectacular Return on Investment

Sending print newsletters and direct marketing campaigns has long been a proven method to stay in touch with your customers and bring in more business. Even non-profits use it as a means of keeping members abreast of association news, conferences and other events. But sending print publications is time-consuming and expensive.

By the time you add up the design and print costs and then tack on postage, a mailing to 1,000 people can cost $5,000. Plus, if your content is time-sensitive, you have to plan far enough ahead of time to make sure that everything goes smoothly.

Email newsletters and marketing campaigns, by contrast, require very little effort. They are inexpensive, measurable, and extremely effective. According to the Direct Marketing Association, every $1 you spend on email marketing generates a $45.06 return on investment – the highest response rate for all direct response methods.

With the right tool, not only can you create an entire newsletter within 30 minutes or less, you can also track:

  • Who opened your message to find out who cares enough to read what is inside instead of discarding it
  • Who clicked on any of the links that are inside your message to read more or to place an order
  • Which addresses are no longer valid so you can maintain a clean list

Imagine being able to see instantly which stories or offers people respond to in real time. You could then tailor your message to what your audience wants. That’s powerful information that you can use right away. And that’s the power of email marketing.

Imagine you are the marketing manager of an entrepreneur-consultant, trying to sell print material and book speaking engagements to potential customers. How would you accomplish this task in the most effective manner?

While many people are using email marketing successfully, there are those who try it but just don’t see the same level of success. As a marketing technique, permission-based email is a great idea. It allows you to market your message to people who have indicated that they want to hear from you (for example, by subscribing to a newsletter on your website).

And any marketer will tell you that these “warm leads” are a much better audience to market to. But without the right planning in place before you start, your opt-in email marketing could get derailed. This six-step process to developing a permission-based email marketing strategy will help you plan every email marketing effort -- whether it is an occasional sales message or a regular e-newsletter.

  • Determine your audience. You probably already have a fairly good idea what niche makes up your customer base. But for many businesses, it may not be the exact same niche that will open and read your email marketing messages. Busy professionals, for example, may already be overwhelmed with their emails; this does not mean you should not use email marketing, but rather that you should think carefully about what your recipients will take the time to read.
  • Determine your purpose. Knowing your audience helps you to understand your purpose. Ultimately, your purpose needs to be only one thing: will you get them to click to your website? Will you get them to buy something advertised in your email? Will you try to improve their overall feeling about your business? While it may be tempting to try and do more than one thing in each message, your many goals will be less effective than one single goal that you hammer home several times in the same email.
  • Determine your message. Now that you know your purpose, you will be able to craft your message. Your purpose will help determine what you will write: If you want recipients to click to your site, you need to offer some “teaser” information and a link. If you want them to buy products you have advertised in your message, you need to (obviously) talk about those products.
  • Determine your frequency. The frequency that you send these messages to your audience will depend on two things: your audience’s ability to read each message and your ability to keep up with the ongoing workload. If you have a busy audience, do not send as many messages. If you do not think you can maintain consistency on a twice-monthly basis, for example, only send a message once each month.
  • Build a model and use a system. Rather than starting from scratch each time you send your message, make it easy on yourself. Build a template, or use one of the many that are available online, and adjust it to your needs. Email list management companies like iContact Email Marketing provide templates, but do so much more.

Other critical activities they take care of is ensuring that you have a systematized approach for your audience to subscribe and unsubscribe, as well as ensuring that you are compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act and best practices. Email list management companies are valuable because they take a lot of the work out of your hands, allowing you to focus on your business and on creating a great marketing message.

Always keep in mind two things: “Will my customers read this?” and “Will I be able to maintain this level of excellence on an ongoing basis?”

  • Get started... and continue! Woody Allen said that 80% of success was simply showing up. Many good ideas stay that way... just as ideas. It is the great ideas that are actually implemented. If you believe that you have a solid email marketing idea, test it out on a limited basis and run with it. Do not get discouraged with an initially low success rate. If you believe that you are doing the right thing, test and tweak it periodically to improve your message... and your business.