Email marketing – making it work for you

Ask any marketing consultant in Leeds or UK wide and they will tell you that Email marketing has become an incredibly popular way for small businesses to reach new customers: cheap and very fast, email marketing is a great way to put your marketing message across.
Whilst increasing numbers of small businesses are tapping into email marketing, many are missing the opportunities that email marketing can offer to target their message to the right people at the right time and in the process are missing opportunities to bring in new business.
Email marketing offers a number of advantages over direct mailings: response rates to bulk emails are known to be higher than for direct mailings and results can be easily measured, making the fine-tuning of future campaigns much simpler. Marketing your products or services via email is perfect if you rely on your website for the majority of your business and emails can be used to showcase new products and publicise special offers.
However, when done badly, email marketing can be a disaster and unless you adhere to the watchwords of relevance and responsibility at all times, your email marketing campaigns will simply be seen as annoying spam by potential customers. To avoid this, you must always have permission to get in touch with the recipient of your email and if you want a positive response, your email needs to offer something that is of genuine interest or of value.
Building a database of customer or client email addresses should be the starting point of any email marketing strategy. Permission-based is the key phrase here: make sure your management of the database is vigilant at all times and that you delete the email address of anyone who wants to opt out, so don’t forget to offer an ‘opt-in’ box in your initial contact with them. Your email address database should not only include customer email addresses, finding out as much as you can will make it far easier to ensure that the emails you send them are relevant.
Email marketing databases are much easier to manage if they’re divided up into groups of people with similar interests. This can be done by categorising customers or clients into what they’ve bought in the past – this will enable you to send marketing emails to the right customers. If you sell footwear, for example, a middle-aged man is unlikely to appreciate a discount offer on kids’ wellies.
At this point it is important to note that sending spam emails is against the law; to receive emails from you, your recipient must have ‘opted-in’ and anyone who has registered their details with the Direct Marketing Association’s email preference service must be removed from your contact database.
Every message you send should be relevant and of interest to the recipient; if you send just one or two irrelevant messages and it’s likely that they’ll simply delete your messages or unsubscribe from your list. By all means grab the attention of the recipient but make sure you’re not offering over-exaggerated claims as this is likely to be perceived as spam. Try to keep things simple yet relevant and interesting with a call to action and a reason to respond or click through to your website.
Last and by no means least, make sure you spend time monitoring the response to your emails. This can be done two ways: either with specially designed software or through your internet service provider. You need to know how many of your emails were delivered, how many opted out (best practice is to remove these straight away), and how many recipients clicked through to your website. Remember that the response rate to email marketing campaigns is usually much higher than for other direct marketing methods and if your email is sent to large groups of customers, think about whether you can handle an increase in orders.