Maximum return on investment is the holy grail of ecommerce businesses. We criticize bottom-line thinking, but at the end of the day, we all know that bottom-line focus keeps the business growing, thriving, breathing, and simply living.
We do not always know how effective our advertising investments are. We know that we must spend the money, take the risk, and lose some money in order to gain some clients.
Email Marketing As a Component of Electronic Direct Marketing
Electronic Direct Marketing (EDM) comes in as a renewed version of the older electronic direct mail. It is a broader, more technologically diverse approach to engaging the individual directly. The EDM paradigm is yet untapped. We have seen some advances that go beyond the template email tailored to the individual based on collected personal data. It blends Event Driven Marketing with the immediate experience a visitor has on a website.
Event Driven Marketing vs. Electronic Direct Marketing
Event Driven Marketing is sometimes referred to as Trigger Based Marketing or Event Based Marketing. It is a discipline of marketing that seeks to engage the target client at the point of some change in their life or situation. Electronic Direct Marketing does the same, but on a micro and real-time scale. It can incorporate Real-time Marketing strategies, but does not depend on them.
The Weakness of Real-Time Marketing
Real-time Marketing is based on Inbound Marketing thinking, which adjusts the offer to the customer they are addressing at that moment. Outbound Marketing, the more traditional approach, looks for a match in the customer that fits the sales offer they have developed ahead of time.
While inbound marketing makes sense, the risk is that if the customer detects this is what you are doing, the feeling is that you are scamming them. This can be seen by the reactions to the just-in-time event driven marketing that exploits the visitor's clicks on a web page or their replies when talking to a live rep at a call center.
This is an efficient and cost effective strategy for marketing. No one can deny this. It has lost some of its luster owing to the tidal wave of spam emails. Nevertheless, its power lies in the linking back to the website or targeted product pages. The targeted customer simply clicks and reaches the landing page specifically developed for this campaign.
Ecommerce professionals find mailing lists exciting as they can instantly develop a large list of leads. With traditional physical mail or cold calling, the wastage of resources on incorrect, dead, or cold leads was very high. But with email, wastage is minimized.
Think of Your Email As a Landing Page in Itself
I like to think of the body of the email as a landing page itself. Some say that with email marketing, you can push the message, rather than relying on the customer to follow the navigation, as on a website. I disagree! When a visitor is staring at a website, they are seeing a presentation, and are being called to action. The same is true of email.
One may argue that the customer cannot refuse opening an email. That is not true either. They may choose not to, or may not see it due to a spam filter. All of these apply equally to a website. Today there is nearly no difference between email marketing and marketing from a website.
There are some mechanisms that provide additional success to email marketing -- auto-responders, bounced messages, read receipts (ok, not very successful), unsubscribe requests, and click-throughs, all work together to give us a clearer picture of the customers on our list. We can determine open rates, as well as positive and negative reactions. Our marketing, ultimately, becomes better informed through these tools.
The one catch to collecting data by following customer behavior is that there are strict laws in place to protect the client's privacy. The proper campaign method to circumvent legal complications is through permission-based marketing.
Apart from just the legal imperative, you would rather win customers over, than alienate them through a volley of promotional emails. Do not just take a shotgun approach with the database of contacts. Instead, let them control whether or not they wish to participate.
The Characteristics of a Good Email
- A Good Subject Line
The subject line can make or break your campaign. This is the hook that gets customers to open the email. But it is also a factor in spam filters tossing away your email. Most people have dozens to hundreds of emails every day. Make yours stand out.
- A Clear Message
Constructing a clear need and call to action. Do not let it vanish amidst everything else on the page. The customer must be told clearly and loudly what to do. Those who want to do what you want them to do will be lost, possibly forever, if they do not know where to click or what to do.
- Personalized Communication
Personalize your message otherwise customers will detect that you are leaning heavily on automation and, as a corollary, you do not care. The more you can show that you are offering is directed to the person, the more likely you are to convert that person into a customer.
The Final Word
Email marketing is not the only form of Electronic Direct Marketing. However, it is the most common and mature form. If you have been avoiding it in order to not seem rude to your potential customers, think again. Your product or service must be useful to your customers. If they are not, then your marketing plan has failed before it took off. If they are, then you should not apologize for trying to get it in their faces, in opposition to all the junk they see every day.
You know you have what they want or need, so get it to them. They will be grateful, if they are the right customers. Email marketing is a sure fire way to do this.