Email Marketing as a Tool for Customer Relationship Management.


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How to get started with email marketing.

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Email Marketing as a Tool for Customer Relationship Management.

  1. 1. ==== ====Information the Gurus ====At its core, Email Marketing is a tool for customer relationship management (CRM).Its Purpose: To build virtual relationships with existing and potential customers.Its Benefit: Maximize the retention and value of these customers, which should ultimately lead togreater profitability.What is Email Marketing?Simply put, Email Marketing is a form of direct marketing which utilities electronic means to delivercommercial messages to an audience. It is one of the oldest and yet still one of the most powerfulof all eMarketing tactics. The power comes from the fact that it is:oextremely cost effective and has a low cost per contactohighly targetedocustomizableocompletely measurableEmail Marketings main strength is that it takes advantage of a customers most prolific touch pointwith the Internet... their in-box.Although spam mail has done a great deal to discredit the Email Marketing industry, the benefitsare still apparent and substantiated by the fact that in February, 2006, a JupiterResearch reportconcluded that spending on Email Marketing will rise from $885 million in 2005 to $1.1 billion in2010.Email Marketing - A Step By Step GuideA successful email campaign requires careful attention - from planning to execution and evaluationof the campaign. There are certain best practices and steps to follow which will ensure thesuccess of an email campaign:Step 1 - Strategic PlanningThe first part of any email campaign should involve planning around the goals you will need toachieve.There are roughly 2 types of commercial emails you can send:oPromotional emails are more direct and are geared at enticing the user to take action throughpurchase or sign upoRetention based emails usually take the form of a newsletter and may include promotionalmessages but ultimately should contain information of value to create a long term relationship withthe reader
  2. 2. A successful email campaign is most likely to be the one geared at retaining and creating a longterm relationship with the reader.Step 2 - List Building and ManagementRunning a successful email campaign requires that your business has a genuine opt-in database.This means that you need to have the users permission to communicate with them or you riskhaving your mail regarded as spam or unsolicited (bulk) email.Emails regarded as spam can have dire consequences for your organization as not only will yourreputation be in jeopardy, but legal action may be pursued in many parts of the world.An effective, best practice Email Marketing campaign requires an in-house list cultivated over time.This list should contain people who are prospects, customers or potential evangelists of yourbusiness, who have explicitly given their permission to hear from you. You can use the website,subscription campaigns as well as the newsletter itself (e.g. send to a friend function) to build lists.An equally important feature is the unsubscribe function. A reader needs to know how they caneasily opt-out of your email communication should they need to.Step 3 - Creative ExecutionEmail content that your readers will value is vital to ensuring the success of an Email Marketingcampaign. Valuable content is informative and progressive and should address the problems andneeds of readers. Its all about what they want to hear more than what you want to say to them.The reader determines what value your content provides, not the publisher.Step 4 - DesignThe design of a mailer is sometimes an area that has the least amount of thought put into it. Thisis usually due to the lack of understanding some designers have of usability. The commonproblems are the:olength of the emailodisorganized structure of informationoreadability of textInteractive emails are best constructed with lightweight HTML capability allowing the email to openquickly in order to grab the users attention before he/she moves on. The structure must allowpeople to scan and navigate the email without too much complication. The length of paragraphs,emphasis through bolding and colors as well as sectioning information with bullets and borders allcontribute to a well structured email.Any good designer will test their email on a variety of current, most used email clients. (E.g.Outlook, Thunderbird, Lotus Notes, Eudora etc). This process is called platform testing andensures that the email will display correctly in as many email clients as possible. Sometimes it isnot possible to ensure exact consistency on every email client; however the variations can beminimized through following best international practice and staying abreast of new developmentsin email clients.Step 5 - Newsletter ComponentsWithin every newsletter, there are a number of components that will aid the reader to orientate and
  3. 3. better accept and react to your newsletter over time. Consistency is key in some areas whileothers can be refreshed although remaining within the style and tone of the communication. Themost prevalent components are as follows:oSubject Lines are essential! They aid the reader in identifying the newsletter and enticing them toopen it. It is important to avoid promotional words like "free", "win" and "buy now" due to thesebeing flagged as potential spam by email spam filters. Using the name and edition of thenewsletter in the subject line aids in maintaining consistency and also helps readers filter themfrom their inbox.o"To"," from" and "reply" fields are also opportunities to build the relationship through creating aperception of familiarity. In other words, the reader needs to perceive that the newsletter issomewhat unique for them and sent personally by the publisher. Using a personalized companyemail address for the "reply" field creates familiarity and builds trust with the reader. The "from"address should also include the organizations name. A meaningless "from" address which thereader cannot identify only serves to confuse the origin of the newsletter.oPersonalization should be standard practice with emails. However, some companies still start thenewsletter with a greeting like "Dear Valued Guest". This can be acceptable as a default greeting;however, using their first name or surname can create a perception of a more personal email. Thiscan be taken further if the customers give you a preference regarding the content they like themost. The text and images in the email can be tailored to match preferences and interests upondelivery.Step 6 - DeploymentAny good email marketer should be able to ensure an excellent delivery rate. A challenge for emailmarketers today is getting past the various spam filters on the path to the readers inbox. It isworthwhile to check emails against various spam filters, like Spamassasin, to ensure yourlegitimate message is not mistakenly picked up by one of them.Delivering emails at correct and consistent times also contributes to the reader fostering arelationship with your organization. A good offline example of this relationship is the dailynewspaper delivery which arrives at your door at the same time every day, week or month.Step 7 - Tracking and ReportingIt is crucial to determine the success of your email campaign on the short and long term basis. Forthis you will need an email tracking system which produces statistics in a user friendly manner. Itis important that these statistics are used in a way which improves and refines the email campaignto boost your goals and return on investment (ROI). The following measurable contribute to yourunderstanding of the performance of email campaigns:oSubscriber Growth vs. Decline - Tracking the growth or shrinkage of your database can help youanalyze what is or what is not working in a newsletter. A significant or consistent loss insubscribers is a key indication that you are not meeting the needs of your subscribers. A high passon rate indicates that your list values the content enough to constantly share with others. Splittingthe list and testing 2 versions of the newsletter can help determine the cause of high unsubscriberates. The size of the list however, is not as important as the quality thereof as a high percentageresponse from your existing newsletter recipients carries more impact than subscriber growthwhich may still yield low response rates.oClick Through Rates and Conversion - This measures the effectiveness of your email via thelinks placed therein. When a reader clicks through to a webpage, these can be easily measured asa percentage against number of delivered, opened or sent emails. By analyzing these statistics,
  4. 4. the email marketer will be able to tell which content or promotion was the most enticing for thereader. Measuring the click through and conversion rates will ensure that you are able to trackdifferences and trends the same way over time in order to improve the newsletter content and itsimpact.oFeedback and Interaction Handling - The feedback from readers is probably the best way togauge what impression your newsletter is making on them. If you are receiving regular positivefeedback, chances are that many of your readers are impressed with the style and content of thenewsletter. Evaluating what they are saying about you in other areas on the Internet will also helpyou get a better picture of the reputation of your brand online.oSplit testing - This is one of the most important parts of an Email Marketing Campaign! Splittesting across a host of factors like open rates across different subject lines, different days of theweek and times of the day, different copy styles and email length, for example, will enable you tosee what is working best for your campaign. In short there is no alternative to putting a lot of timeand energy into testing and fine tuning your email marketing strategy - your open rates willimprove and the results are well worth it!Well there you have it; we now know email marketing is controllable and measurable: making itone of the best means to ensure a return on your investment, by acquiring new customers andnew sales.The services offered by Quirk eMarketing include everything from the conceptualization of acomprehensive online marketing strategy, through to the implementation of the various tactics, likeEmail Marketing, needed to make that vision a reality.Article Source: ====Information the Gurus ====