Email marketing software and tools can easily be pushed aside for some of the “sexier” marketing tactics like “social media” or group coupon sites, because it’s been around forever (in Internet terms anyway). “No one does email marketing anymore,” you opine.
Not true, actually. Email marketing is probably one of the most effective and least expensive ways of getting your message in front people who actually give a darn about your products or services than anything else out there. The software tools have matured to the point that anyone can use them, create professional looking messages easily and manage your contacts very easily.
Let’s step back just a bit first though. Interrupt marketing is the “old school” way of getting your message out by interrupting your prospects to try to get them to pay attention to your message. The idea is that the more you push your message into their face, the more likely you’ll hook one. Common techniques include:
- Radio and TV ads
- Banner ads on websites
- Telemarketing and cold calling
The reality is that most of us are inundated with upwards of 4000 ads per day. Big companies are going to ever greater lengths to get their message remembered by the masses with catch phrases and clever ads. How can you actually expect to compete with all this money being thrown at these slick advertising agencies?
Similarly, passive advertising such as Yellow Pages, print ads, coupons, fliers, and so on, are increasingly relegated to the recycle bin without so much as a glance. Think about how much junk mail you get (and throw away with disgust), how many times you change the station on the radio when commercials come on, or fast forward through commercials on your DVR?
All of this is a huge waste of money, because you’re advertising to “everyone”, when 99% of them don’t care or want your services.
Permission Based Marketing
Instead, by getting permission from people who are interested in your products and services means you don’t have to waste your time with all the “other” people who don’t want your stuff. Email marketing is unique in that (if done properly and in compliance with the law), people have to give you their permission to receive your email newsletter. If they no longer want it, they can click a single link to instantly unsubscribe. You no longer have to waste your time or energy on people who don’t want to hear your message.
Email marketing is extremely inexpensive on a per head basis, because typically the systems charge you based on your database size. You can send out daily, weekly or monthly newsletters, and it costs maybe a couple pennies per name in your database.
The 80/20 Rule
Provide your readers with about 80% useful, free information, and only as an afterthought, no more than 20% marketing or advertising. The more useful information you provide, the more you elevate your stature as an expert in your field, and the more your customers will read your stuff. If you just advertise your specials, discounts and the like, the lower your read (and higher unsubscribe) rate will be.
Keep the e-mails relatively short too. People skim the articles. Give them introductory or taster paragraphs with a link to your website if they want to read more. The clickable links of course can be tracked, and you can see exactly who is interested in particular topics. Your customers automatically tell you what topics or products they’re interested in. This gives you valuable data that you can use to segment them into groups of people who are interested in “expensive houses” or “cheaper houses” or whatever.
Constant Contact is our favorite tool, but we’ll save the details for another post on another day. Suffice it to say that email marketing software is probably the cheapest, most effective tool you can use to get your information in front of people who actually have given you permission to do so.
Thomas Petty is a Certified Internet Consultant at his consulting company, WSI Smart Solutions, and he works with businesses who are struggling to get new clients through the Internet. He also teaches beginning, advanced and master-level SEO classes at the Bay Area Search Engine Academy.