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December 11, 2012

Do Your Customers Like E-mail Marketing?

When it comes to online marketing, most companies today use a variety of channels to reach customers (websites, social posts, mobile web, e-marketing, etc.). But do you know which channel your customers want you to use to reach them?

In an article by Jeff Rohrs about the 30th anniversary of e-mail, he writes, “an overwhelming 77 percent of all consumers surveyed prefer to receive promotional messages from companies via email compared to five percent who prefer text messages and four percent who prefer Facebook.” Wow, 77 percent of consumers prefer e-mail marketing.

So how is your e-mail marketing program working for your small business? Even though things like social networking and mobile technology get a lot of attention today, a solid e-mail campaign not only reaches users in a way they like, but e-mail marketing is also highly targetable, track-able, and measurable.

Here are some tips to create e-mail campaigns that your customers will respond to:

• Write a great subject line – People are bombarded with spam and junk e-mail in their inboxes every day, and you don’t want your e-mail message to get lost in the crowd. Use a subject line that tells recipients what they have to gain by reading your message, such as “Save 10 percent on Holiday Decor” or “Five Days Left to Use Promo Code.”

• Keep it short and sweet – Recipients don’t have time or patience to read through tons of text in your message, so stick to the most important points and leave the details to your landing page. Formatting and layout are important in e-mail campaigns, so remember to use images to break up blocks of text and include headers, colors, logos, etc. to make the piece visually interesting and appealing.

• Include clear calls-to-action. Users need to know exactly what you want them to do, such as download a file, click a link, subscribe to a mailing list, etc. A strong call-to-action (CTA) can help significantly boost response rates and improve conversions in e-mail campaigns.

• Don’t forget the links – Of course you want to include links on your calls-to-action – for example “click to learn more” – but don’t forget to add links to images, product names, your company name, headers, etc. Giving users multiple paths to the landing page can help increase the chances that they will take the action you want them to take.

Targeting, Tracking and Measuring

Targeting your messages is easy with e-mail marketing because you are sending directly to people who have already opted-in or given you permission to contact them. You can even segment your lists into specific groups based on interests, gender, time of year, or any other criteria that may be useful to your business. However, you cannot segment your list effectively if you are not keeping accurate stats and tracking your results. Most list services (like Vertical Response or Constant Contact) provide very detailed data on who opened your message, what links they clicked on, if they forwarded it to another person, etc., so it’s easy to track and measure the results of each campaign.

Do Not Disturb

E-mail marketing is less intrusive than other types of media such as TV, radio commercials, instant messaging, or the dreaded telemarketing call at dinnertime. With e-mail, recipients see your message when they check their e-mail, but they have the choice to read it right away or read it later. If you have done a good job of providing valuable content, they will happily open your e-mail messages every time your campaigns land in their inboxes. If you send too often or send only self-serving promotions, however, recipients may delete your message without reading it or, possibly, unsubscribe or block you altogether. So be smart about the types of messages you send and how often you send them.

Easy, Affordable, and Effective

The bottom line is e-mail marketing works, and is an easy, affordable way to market to your customers and reach them with valuable content and special offers they may be interested in. Last year, the Direct Marketing Association reported e-mail marketing averages a return on investment (ROI) of $43.62 for every dollar you spend. Isn’t that a convincing reason to use it in the first place?

By using e-mail marketing, you can reach your customers in a way they like, while making your business more visible to them at the same time. E-mail campaigns also help remind recipients about your company and the awesome products and services you offer, and can trigger a flurry of renewed interest every time you send. Given that 77 percent of consumers prefer e-mail marketing to other types of digital media, be sure you include e-mail campaigns as part of your marketing mix.

Lauren Hobson is President & CMO of Five Sparrows, LLC. Five Sparrows provides professional website and marketing services to small businesses and non-profits.