Email Marketing Guide

Email Marketing Guide
Why Use Email Marketing?  One of the most immediate and cost efficient ways to promote your web site or business is through email marketing. There's is a lot to know about executing a successful campaign, and having the right information can really help you achieve better results. Use this guide as reference for various email marketing topics.

Best Practices - Common tactics to prevent annoying your subscribers and increase a chance of a click through or sale.

Tips and Advice - Information regarding various email marketing topics from sending your first campaign to increasing conversion rates.

Forum - Connect with other email marketers, from beginners to pros to get your questions answered or stay on top of the ever evolving email marketing game.

Tracking & Analytics - A section devoted entirely to measuring the success of your email marketing campaign.

Software & Services - Background information on various email marketing services.

Resources - Links to other quality information about email marketing broken up by sub topic. 

 Why is Email Marketing Popular? 

In recent years email marketing has witnessed an exponential increase among businesses and companies of all sizes, due in part to the fact that Internet use is becoming more widespread and now reaches into almost every home in America. It has been estimated that nearly half of all email users check their email at least once a day – and many users check their email even more often due to the number of people now connected to the Web via handhelds, personal computers, laptops and cell phones.

Companies have always strived to reach potential customers wherever they might be, which makes email marketing a growing and lucrative aspect of any sound marketing plan. Because email marketing is cost effective and tailored to the target audience's preferences and tastes, even companies with smaller budgets can reap benefits from the practice. What's more, the message reaches the prospect's inbox with very little effort from the marketing team. When implemented appropriately, an email marketing campaign can have a dramatic impact on the success of any business.

Tips and Other Information for Managinging Your Email Campaigns:
First Campaign Tips | Consistent Email Marketing | How to Design Your Emails | Writing Quality Subject Lines | 10 Dos for Email Marketing | 10 Email Marketing Dont's | Improving Deliverability | Increasing Conversion Rates | Trigger Based Emails | Shared IP Address | Types of Email Marketing | Types of Leads Generated

  What Types Are There? 

Email marketing campaigns can be divided into three subcategories: direct email, retention email, and advertising via intermediary email. Either type can be used individually or in unison with other types of email marketing to form the basis for a successful email marketing campaign.

  • Direct email is the use of email to send persuasive commercial sales messages. These messages are usually sent to the addresses of customers who have already experienced the product or service being offered or to potential customers in your target market who might benefit from or enjoy what you are offering. Direct mail email marketing campaigns can be launched using your company's own email list, a purchased or shared email list, or even through a third party service company. Oftentimes, third party companies know which audience to target via email marketing or will undertake market analysis to determine the best email addresses to garner the highest conversion or response rates for your business. 

  • Retention emails (which are often referred to as newsletter emails) are not designed specifically for promotional use. Newsletters usually aim at causing a long-term impact in the recipient's mind and thus contain more than just sales messages. The retention email points out the advantages of the product or service offered in an informative format that might be slightly off-topic from the actual product, but related in some manner. You will find a bigger response rate an entertaining or engaging retention email that can cause a big boost in sales. 

  • Intermediary emails refer to advertising and marketing in the emails that other businesses send out. Instead of your company writing and sending out its own emails, the task is delegated to other companies who maintain their own email subscriber lists. This type of email marketing is now becoming popular to the extent that some newsletters even written with the purpose of selling advertising space to other companies.
  Avoiding Failure

Email marketing has specific criteria that must be employed to make it successful. Not all marketing emails get through to their intended recipients, which makes it all the more important that the ones that do get through present the intended message in the best light possible. Many marketing emails fail to accomplish this goal. So, how can your business avoid failure in email marketing?

First of all, before sending any email, the sender should critically think about the target audience, the content to be delivered, and the channel through which this sender will be distributing the email. When thinking about the audience, the sender should consider what the reader (which is the potential customer) expects from sellers and merchandisers offering this type of product or service. Some of the questions to keep in mind are: Does my message highlight the key features of my product/service offered? Is the method of purchase/rental clearly described? How can my audience relate to this product/service? Are my messages short and concise, or will they be time-consumptive on the recipient's end?

Secondly, before sending out any email, you must be very selective in the content of your messages. Valuable content is an important key factor because engaging content keeps current subscribers from marking the email as spam or from simply disregarding the email. Emails, moreover, should have exclusive content that only potential customers can have access to. Having a mere repetition of what is found on your company’s website or blog would be useless to distribute again in email form. Make your email messages useful - maybe mentioning important highlights about your products or services that the customer might be interested in knowing. When writing content with the intention of persuading the customer to experience your product or service, think of what the customer would want to gain from this experience and put an emphasis on that. You may want to also add tips, mention exclusive features, offers, and other areas of interest to the recipient.

The sender’s reputation plays a significant role in email marketing. Building a positive reputation gives positive response from the recipient side. Usually, this positive reputation builds up by sending legit emails. In addition to these valuable points, consider the following three tips for your email marketing campaigns:

1. Use information that is relevant to your business only
Use email marketing when you have something your potential customer will definitely benefit from and will be interested in.

2. Write an informative subject line
The subject line, concise and straight to the point, will definitely grab your potential customer’s attention. Avoid over exaggerated subject titles like “The most effective supplement ever”! Such a title does not indicate any thing about your particular product/service offered and says nothing to the audience; it would most probably get your email directly deleted or simply marked as spam.

3. Use both HTML and text formats to ensure the receipt of your message
Many times, after your recipient has read the subject line and actually decided to open the email to observe the content, he/she is surprised to find that the HTML formatted message cannot be displayed on the screen. To avoid wasting your efforts, always include an option to view as HTML (for customers that have adequate programs). HTML can allow the display of graphics, logos, pictures, and can also give the user the freedom to be more innovative with the content design.

  Advantages of Email Marketing for Your Business - Why Choose Email Marketing? 

In order to ascertain whether or not email marketing is an effective commercial tool, it is important to look at the advantages and disadvantages of email marketing.

1. Cost effectiveness: With email marketing, companies can now distribute a wide range of information to a large audience for a relatively very low cost. It is also much less expensive than other means of media and promotion such as the printed newsletter or traditional direct mail campaigns delivered by the postal service. 

2. Short Impact Time: In comparison to other marketing methods, email marketing is delivered in just seconds to the recipient's inbox. 

3. Ease of Use: Email marketing is easy on both the reader and the company issuing the email. The recipient can access the email directly from his inbox without any further action needed from his side. He doesn't have to pick up the phone to call you, or fill out a postcard to return to you in order to show his interest. 

4. Personalized/Targeted Method: With the help of the emerging email marketing companies and with the market segmentation that is readily available (according to geographical factor, occupation, or other) your company can now target a more focused potential customer list based on the target market's needs, wants, and interests.

5- Viral Method: An effective email message has the potential to become "viral" – all that it takes is a recipient interested enough to forward your message on to others in their network.

6- Traceable Tool: With the use of advanced tracking systems, everything about your email marketing campaign can be tracked, including the number of emails that were opened and the number of links that was clicked on by recipients.

7- Complimentary Method: Email marketing is very useful to support the other marketing and advertising activities that are formulated under your marketing plan.

  Disadvantages of Email Marketing 

While email marketing is definitely the "wave of the future" for many companies, a well-thought out campaign is essential to your success with this emerging marketing method. In reality, there are many factors that will determine your success or failure, including strong competition, deliverability barriers, legal issues, and more.

Although, in most cases, email marketing is used to communicate a message to potential or already existing customers; others send bulk email, which is also known as spam. This is the major email deliverability issues in an email marketing campaign. According to statistics, G-mail receives on average 8 billion email messages a day. During the year of 2002, 25% of the total mail volume received was spam. Now, and according to the latest data of 2008, spam increased to up to 95% of the total volume received.

In response to this phenomenon, free email hosting companies such as Yahoo now send back messages. Hotmail, on the other hand, trashes or filters messages (does not allow passage of the email to the inbox directly). AOL also encounters similar problems, but in AOL’s case, the email bounces back either temporarily or permanently (leading to blockage). If emails are classified as spam, they lose any chance of being read by the recipient or even being regarded as holding credible information.

  Deliverability Improvement 

In order to improve the email delivery status, you may want to start sending marketing emails slowly and not in bulk to avoid being labeled as spam. The addition of an “unsubscribe” button in your messages is important to prevent the customer from hitting the spam button (which many do). Improving deliverability success is not comprised of solely having the right frequency of emails being sent out, but also involves targeting the right people. Email marketing is more successful if it focuses on people that you know are interested in what you're offering. You may also keep in mind that an email to an existing customer or contact may be valued for its content. Even if this contact does not take any immediate action, he/she is more likely to do so in the future.

  How to Trace Email Marketing Effectiveness 

Several web programs can give email marketers a general view of how their campaign is doing. Some of those tracking features are: the delivery rate (which measures the number of emails successfully sent), the open rate (which measures the number of email opening responses in form of a percentage of the total emails sent), the bounce rate (which shows the number of bounced emails), the unsubscribe rate (which measures the rate of people unsubscribing from the list), the ISP feedback rate (which is an important measurement of recipients who reported your messages as spam), the web view rate, and many others. These statistics can be interpreted differently depending on the nature of the company, the target of the company, and the size of the campaign being launched and can be a vital part of your email marketing efforts.

  Spam and Legal Issues with Email Marketing 

As spam increased to almost 95% in the year 2008, many spam laws have been enacted to govern email marketing. Email marketing campaigns now have to be carefully planned. Under e-commerce regulations, when your company wants to distribute email marketing messages your company must also deliver information about your business (including, but not limited to, the full name and contact details). The presence of a valid address for people to opt out of receiving emails from your company is also essential. Companies are not allowed to distribute unwanted marketing messages by email (to subscribers) without those subscribers’ prior approval.

Violating regulations and laws that have been established for email marketers in the U.S. can cause your company to suffer stiff penalties, up to $11,000 per violation in some instances. In order to avoid such penalties, it is crucial that precautions are taken during the email marketing process, such as including a valid physical address in the email message and providing an unsubscribe feature to the email recipient as previously mentioned.

  Tips: the Recommended Success Formula to Email Marketing 

The formula for a successful email marketing campaign is often considered to be the following: 
The Right Message + The Right Target Audience + The Right Frequency + The Right Occasion + The Right Channel = Positive Response/Success