Understanding e-Mail Marketing

Welcome back to my introduction to on-line marketing. In case you missed them, you may want to check out the earlier articles:

In part three, I’ll be looking at email marketing campaigns. Of all the on-line marketing techniques, e-mail marketing is probably the closest analog to a traditional marketing technique which you have probably used. Essentially, it’s the on-line version of direct mail marketing. As with other on-line marketing techniques, its two biggest advantages over its non-digital equivalent are the ease with which results can be measured and the speed with which a campaign can be changed to improve your metrics. Oh, and did I mention the cost? The lowest USPS rate for bulk, commercial mail is currently 19¢. Contrast that with bulk e-mail, which typically starts at about 1.5¢ per e-mail and goes down from there depending on volume and contract commitment.

E-Mail Marketing Target Audiences

Just like direct mail advertising, there are essentially two main target audiences that are used in your e-mail marketing campaigns:

  • Purchased Lists, and
  • Current customers

Hopefully “current customers” is a fairly obvious target audience. If you don’t do so already, you should start accumulating e-mail addresses from your customers. E-mail is an easy, inexpensive way to communicate with your core audience. Of course, this doesn’t need to actually be limited to current customers; this category really covers anyone who has voluntarily given you their email address. As we discussed in the introductory article, many good goals will result in you capturing contact information for prospects. That contact information provides you with an extremely targeted list for your e-mail campaigns.

Purchased lists are just like purchased lists of traditional mailing addresses, with all the advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that you can relatively inexpensively get a list of potential clients that is extremely targeted. You want a list of C-level executives at Fortune 500 companies? No problem. You want a list of Realtors in the 5 zip codes surrounding your office? Also, no problem. Just like traditional mailing lists, you can get as granular as you want — and just like traditional mailing lists, the more targeted the audience, the more expensive the list. The downside with purchased e-mail lists (or, more appropriately, the area for caution) is also the same as for snail mail lists: lists vary in quality. In order to avoid a large number of inaccurate entries and out-dated addresses, you’ll want to make sure you purchase your lists from a reputable supplier. I’ll discuss this further, in the section below on Technical Issues with E-Mail Marketing, but I can’t stress enough the importance of making sure that any lists you purchase are from a reputable source — failure to do so can result in all of your emails being blocked.

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