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Email Marketing — Part I: The most cost-effective way to communicate.

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Why is email marketing the most cost effective? Isn’t email dead?

No, email marketing is not dead. In short, when you send out emails to market a product or service to the public it works.

First, some statistics:

  • According to a 2018 study conducted by the Radicati Group, there will be 3.8 billion email users worldwide at the beginning of 2019…and it’s expected to rise to 4.2 billion by 2022. This represents over half of the global population.
  • In the United States, there are nearly 252 million email users…and that number is rising as well, according to stastita.com.
  • The point being, there is an enormous market out there and email marketing is one way of reaching it. And most experts agree that the email is the most powerful way to communicate online.

But beyond marketing a product, the definition continues to say that it is using email to develop relationships, hopefully, long-lasting and profitable, with potential customers and/or clients.

Why utilize email for marketing your e-commerce business?

Another very simple answer: it’s easy to do…and it’s cheap. Email marketing is a low-cost way to promote your company and advertise your products and services as compared to most other forms of marketing. It’s simple to set up and track an email marketing campaign,  thus making it a surprisingly manageable form of marketing, especially for the small business.

For example, a thirty-second television ad costs around $350,000 and a direct mail campaign can cost between .30 cents and $10, depending on content, per person on the mailing list. Even using Google AdWords (at an average of $2.32 per click) can run up a sizeable tab.

For the money, sending out 1000 emails is far cheaper…and a lot easier to create and deliver.

Some more important aspects of the email;

  • It’s personal.
  • It’s purposeful.
  • It’s also targeted.
  • It’s a one-on-one connection.
  • You own your email list.
  • And, everyone uses their email account daily.

A number of studies reveal that greater than 70% of shoppers prefer email as their source of communications with businesses.

An email campaign can offer such benefits as:

  • You can increase the number of repeat visits to your website. Over 70% of website visitors that leave your website will not return. With an email list, you can establish a connection with them through their email addresses and, in turn, keep them updated with valuable content that will bring them back…time and time again.
  • Create loyal followers. Repeat visitors are more likely to convert into customers than one-time visitors. Research shows that it normally takes 3-4 visits to your website before a potential customer will actually begin to think of doing business with you.
  • Obviously, sales will increase as repeat visitors start to convert. Email conversions consistently outperform both social media and organic search traffic.

So if you’re looking to make sales, an email marketing plan should be part of your strategy.

Data & Marketing Association (DMA) research shows that for every dollar spent on an email marketing campaign, companies see an average return of $38. That’s an excellent ROI!

So, where do you start?

With a list!

To start an email campaign, one must have a list of folks to send the emails to. So, where do you get this list?

There are typically three ways to acquire an email list:

  • Rent a list.
  • Buy an email list.
  • Create and own an opt-in email list.

Renting a list? Not the best option. Mainly because you don’t own the list and you never see the addresses of the people you are connecting with. The email provider controls the addresses on your list and they send out the emails.

Buy a list? Lots of problems here. First off, you have a ton of regulations—do’s and don’ts— that you have to adhere to. In the U.S., it’s the CAN-SPAM Act and in Europe, it’s the GDPR. (General Data Protection Regulation) These government-created regulations are designed and function as protection for the consumer and by default, they tend to work against the entrepreneur…or at least make things more difficult and tedious.

There are other reasons why buying a list is a bad option. One of the biggest is that really good email lists are not for sale. The lists that appear on the market for sale tend to be compiled by less than stellar organizations and do not represent any truly homogenous consumer groups. The buyer has no idea what the likes and dislikes, or anything else for that matter, about the names on the list.

And to add injury to insult, the people on the list have no idea who you are. You’ll simply show up as junk mail in their inbox. This is not a practice you want to establish and the chances of getting a consumer’s attention via this method are pretty slim.

Then there is the concern that most reputable email providers and email marketing services won’t allow the use of a purchased email list. There’s a big risk for many of the top providers. Most of them use their own IP (Internet Protocol) addresses…and to make it simple, if their IP, which is monitored, begins to receive a lot of complaints concerning unwarranted emails, then it becomes a big problem for them on a larger scale. So, to avoid this, the major providers don’t allow the use of purchased email lists.

And there is the issue of being identified as a spammer. Because you have no idea how often the names on the list you purchased have been used, you run the risk of running into a spam trap.

There are organizations set up simply to catch and identify spammers. They set traps, often called a honeypot, which is a planted email: it collects and identifies spamming activity. Several other methods are employed but they all have the same purpose—to identify and report spammers.

Being identified as a spammer could be disastrous for your business. Your email deliverability will be severely hampered and your IP reputation destroyed. It could take months—even years to recover.

By purchasing a list, you could possibly be buying a golden bullet—an email address that’s a trap—and your one email could be the one to spring the trap.

So, is buying a list full of names worth the risk? Probably not. Plus, it’s just not very professional…it tends to look cheap and second rate.

Just a real quick explanation.

I must pause for just a moment and clarify a point. All of the discussion above is relative to email campaigns for B2C. That is, Business-to-Customer, where you are the business and you’re emails are intended for your customers—the everyday consumer looking to buy something. If we were discussing email campaigns for the world of B2B, Business-to-Business, then the discussion would be a little different. In the B2B world, buying a list is legit, but the rules are a little different. For the purposes of this article, we will stick to Business-to-Customer.

The Opt-In List.

Hopefully, it has become obvious that the best method to acquire an email list is to build it yourself. Yes, it’s a little time consuming and may cost a little extra, but it is so worth the effort.

Let’s assume you are a fresh, out-of-the-box business owner ready to get your store up and running and making money. Sending emails to inform potential customers about your business and your products or services sounds like an excellent idea.

First, we have to also assume you have a website already in place. If you don’t, then you need to stop and work on that first. While building your website, your design team can show you a myriad of ways to build it so that people will be able to interact and respond to your call to action(s). But more on that later.

How to get started.

A physical presence:

If your business is a physical store, a.k.a. brick-and-mortar business, then you have the advantage of person-to-person contact with shoppers. You can get creative and provide opportunities for your visitors to sign up for your emails and newsletters.

  • Leave email signup sheets in several conspicuous locations. Or display your business cards that encourage them to leave their name and email address to receive more information on your product line.
  • Design your receipts and statements with a place for them to submit their email address for additional product information and specials.
  • You can capture their email information at the point of sale by asking them personally if they would like to receive specific information about offers and specials relative to their purchase.
  • Be creative and find ways to make contact…and offer more!
Online businesses:

For the eCommerce online-only business, you don’t often have the opportunity to come face-to-face with your customers. So, the most important thing you can do to create and build your email mailing list is to optimize your website for the visitor to have the opportunity to opt-in to receive emails and newsletters.

The call-to-action  (CTA) is the best method for reaching out and making contact with the visitors to your eCommerce website. But the CTA is not just a rude, annoying shout-out that says. “hey, sign up for my email list!”

The placement of CTAs must be calculated and designed to endear and encourage the shopper. In other words, they need to be personalized. So how do you personalize something for someone you don’t know?

The answer takes us briefly to another aspect of your initial marketing strategy.

It’s critical that you understand who your customers are going to be…who is your target audience? One of the processes involved here is developing personas of your targeted customers. Accomplishing this early in your marketing plan will go a long way in helping you create these personalized CTAs.

You may not know this person, but you do know something about their likes and dislikes and have some insight into their needs. The fact that they are on your website tells you a lot. Then the areas they look at, the time they spend in the different areas…it all tells you something about them.

CTAs designed individually for each blog, for each landing page, and for each of the sub-pages of the website will appeal to the visitor on a personal level and will get their attention. HubSpot.com states that personalized calls-to-action have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than calls-to-actions that are the same for all visitors.

Personalized CTAs should be specific to the topic or product the visitor is looking at on the website. By building your personas and understanding the nature and character of people with like interests and needs you can give them the feeling that you are speaking to them directly…which, in fact, you are!

Make it worth their time to respond.

Always attach value to the CTA…something the visitor will benefit or gain from the experience of doing business with you. Things such as eBooks, videos, discounts, specials, whatever will appeal to their persona will help add value to their experience. And remember to deliver as much value as you can. Above all, keep everything relative to the product that the customer is viewing— A different web page and a different product will require a different CTA.

Exactly what does the CTA look like?

Having an effective call-to-action is an indispensable part of your content and is not just limited to lead generation and e-commerce websites. Every website, every Facebook page, and every piece of content should have a goal it wants the viewer to accomplish. This goal can be to sign up for your newsletter, having them share content with their friends, or filling in a contact form

And speaking of social media, Shareaholic.com says, Facebook is the number one referral traffic source for websites… and that many new media websites derive the majority of their traffic from social media.

The CTAs can be in the form of a banner, button, pop-up, slider, some form of graphic or text…anything that provides a place for the visitor to voluntarily provide their email address.  

Important here is to not be gimmicky or over-aggressive. And, to be totally effective it should be obvious and immediately follow the marketing message.

The CTAs must be thought out; well-designed, well-timed, and well-placed. Its function is to prompt or encourage the reader to respond—to take action.  It takes some effort but you’ll learn quickly about the value of your effort.

Always remember that the CTA is about connecting with the shopper and providing for their needs…it’s not about your needs. You want to establish a long-lasting and genuinely beneficial experience for your customers.

Finding an email marketing service provider.

Selecting the right email marketing service that meets your needs is vital for your business. The most popular email providers are not necessarily the best solution for your needs. There are dozens and dozens of providers on the market to choose from and it could become overwhelming and frustrating trying to find the perfect one for your business

Here are a few key points to look for when searching for that perfect one;

  • Ease of use: Do you understand how it all comes together? If you don’t understand how their service works for you…it’s probably not going to be easy to use and may not work with your business.
  • Automation: Almost all of them allow you to automate your email campaigns. But they all do things in a different way. Understand how different tools will automate your email campaigns and ensure that they will solve your needs.
  • Industry: Some providers are intended for serving certain industries/businesses only. Ensure that your business fits their software and will address your specific needs
  • Pricing: It’s obvious that the service must fit into your budget.

Email marketing is the most cost-effective marketing tool for the small business owner. Again, it’s because email marketing is simple to manage, it offers you full control and allows you to establish personal and direct contact with your customers.

It’s imperative to recognize that most of your email marketing success depends totally on the marketing software you choose: Ultimately they are accountable for ensuring that your emails get delivered.

If not careful, you’ll pay more money for fewer features and rotten deliverability—which, in turn, will cost you more money.

The benefits of a quality email marketing service include;

  • Allows you to create highly personal and engaging emails.
  • You can manage your own contacts.
  • You’ll be able to segment your customers into groups.
  • Tracking the performance of your email campaigns is easy.
  • And, most essential—a good email marketing service provider will ensure that your emails do not find their way to the spam folder.

Provider recommendations;

One of our favorite email marketing services is MailChimp. For all of the reasons above, and for the fact that MailChimp integrates seamlessly with WordPress and Shopify. They also have a premium plugin for WordPress that provides a number of additional features to those listed above, making it one of the ideal providers for your business.

Along with MailChimp, we also utilize and endorse Klaviyo and Kajabi…each one is an excellent and first-rate email marketing service provider.

More to come.

Part II of this article will unpack several more specific points of implementing and managing your email marketing campaigns.  Stay tuned!

 

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