email marketing

Email Marketing: The Advantages and Challenges

There are some very compelling reasons for using email as a marketing tool to reach out to and nurture new prospects and strengthen relationships with existing customers.

Email Marketing Advantages

Reach

According to a 2018 Hubspot study, 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.  Average open rates are around 24%, but a well written email with the right subject line to a targeted list can have significantly higher open rates. On the other hand, an organic social media post will probably be seen by less than 2% of fans or followers.

Cost

The cost of sending thousands of emails is a fraction of the cost of reaching dozens of potential prospects through pay per click (PPC) advertising on Google, Linkedin or Facebook. For example, Mailchimp lets you send 12,000 to a list of 2,000 for free. We send over 100,000 emails each month for less than $20. On the other hand , a single click thru on a PPC ad on Google for a competitive keyword could easily run between $10 and $20. When it comes to cost effectiveness, email wins by a mile.

Tracking

The best thing about email is that it can be tracked. You can see who opened or clicked on a link, and how many times they did it. You can then use that information to modify your email strategy, content and frequency. For example, you can send different emails to people who did not open your email, to those who did and to those who clicked on a link. You can also follow up individually with recipients who have engaged with your email on multiple occasions.

Ownership

Once you own an email list, it’s your forever to use. You can nurture the people on that list and send them offers as you develop them. No rush. An email list is a long term benefit.

Email Marketing Challenges

List Building

The greatest challenge in email marketing is list building. The success of email marketing hinges to a great extent on the quality of the email list. And building a quality list is not easy.

Of course, there’s a shortcut many people take: buying a list. There are plenty of companies that sell lists. In many cases, the email addresses on those lists are outdated. But assuming they aren’t, the problem with you’ll face is that the people on those lists have not shown interest in your specific product or service. So blasting a mass email to them could result in lots of “marked as spam” and very few opens. It’s like the proverbial throwing shit at the wall and hoping that something sticks. The odds are heavily stacked against you. But if the list is cheap enough or you can get one for free (check your public library databases), it could be worth a shot (like buying a lottery ticket).

The traditional way of building an email list is to offer the user something of value in exchange for giving you his or her email address. It could be an offer to provide news or the latest updates or blog posts. Or it could be an downloadable ebook or report — commonly referred to as a Lead Magnet.

The challenge with lead magnet method is that you have to drive traffic to the lead magnet, which usually lives on your website. Driving traffic is a difficult and often expensive process that can take a significant amount of time. And you need to have a lead magnet that people want bad enough to be willing to trade their email address for it. Not so simple.

Data mining

There’s another way of building targeted email lists, based on data mining. The first step is to identify your exact target persona. The customer persona should be as detailed as possible and include job title, industry, company size and geographic location. Then use those data points to search Linkedin and Google for appropriate matches. Once you’ve got a spreadsheet of names, you can use a tool like hunter.io or findthatlead to find verified email addresses. Although these people haven’t opted in to receive emails from you, since they are highly targeted and verified, you should have much better results than simply emailing a purchased list. To read more about this list building system click here.

Is it Spam?

Under the CAN-SPAM act, you are able to send emails to business people that you do not know as long as you comply with the rules that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has outlined.

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
    Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
    The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.
    The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located.
    Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
    Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
    Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.
    The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

Final Word

Email marketing is an effective and low cost way of reaching and nurturing new prospects and strengthening relationships with existing customers. It’s something that every business can and should be using on a regular basis to generate leads and increase revenue. If you want to learn more about how do implement email marketing in your business, please fill out a contact form and we’ll be happy to help.

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