Everyone is talking about social media marketing nowadays. You cannot ignore it, they say. You are bombarded with sponsored stories on Facebook every day (those are going away soon by the way). When someone invites you to like a page, you are not even sure whether they are doing it because it is something they would want you to genuinely know about and try or it’s just because they need likes.
Amidst this hullabaloo is the one thing that has existed before Facebook and Twitter and which nobody is really talking about, especially right here in Kenya: Email Marketing. Truth be told, the only thing you have in your control online is an email list. Facebook may change its algorithm tonight, Google too but you can never be wrong with email.
When you stumble upon a website, be it a product or service and like what you read on it, what is your first instinct? It’s probably to share the content, right? You are happy, you share. What next? You don’t want to miss the next series of awesome content, right? So you look for the subscribe button because email will not disappear down a Timeline or News Feed.
Why Email Marketing
Research has shown that email marketing leads to conversion rates to date according to research by Monetate in its E-commerce Quarterly.
It may be old-fashioned but people tend to be comfortable with what they already know. Email is personal, it is not like the status update everyone sees and that targets everyone out there. That personal touch is compelling enough to make the reader venture further.
Email, on top of being environmentally friendly, is cost-effective. You can send emails out to a large number of people while still telling their stories by segmenting your database and targeting emails appropriately.
You can track email conversions very easily and even account for the return on investment (ROI) way better than social media. Coupled with the cost-effectiveness and conversion rates, email ROI reached 2,500% in 2013. Believe me, Ksh 25 for. Research by the Direct Marketing Association is proof. This brings me to the how.
How to Make It Work
Send out quality content. It cannot be the kind of email that is sent out by spammers. It has to be one that you would want to read yourself. First, make sure it is opened by writing sincere subject lines. Then write stories that move in the direction you intend. Do not send out too many emails. It is the number one reason people unsubscribe from emails.
Provide widgets on your website where visitors can subscribe to email. Notice I said widgets, not pop-ups when the website just loads and before I have read anything. Many visitors are turned off by that kind of intrusive email marketing because you are forcing them to sign up too early before they know whether the material is of interest to them or not.
Depending on your conversion goal (it could be a visit to your website or a purchase), you have to sell yourself and make clear calls to action. Maybe not immediately but over a period of time. Appeal to emotions. Tell the reader what is in it for them. Reason with them. What’s in it for them? Come to a conclusion. One of the best ways to lead people further is to post a snippet of your content and provide a link where they can find out more.
Be different. You cannot afford to do what everyone is doing because you all offer different services and products. While being different comes with its challenges, you have to test what works and keep revising your email strategy. Do not be mundane.
Couple email marketing with social media marketing. Let the two complement each other. Send out a teaser on Facebook about the goodies that are in store in your next email edition. You have to promote your content and products.
Make your email format easy on the eyes on both web and mobile. Most astute people today are increasingly reading their mail on the move. Remember the option to not see images in the mail? Bear that in mind. Your email should be appealing with or without images.
Opening the email is determined by a couple of factors, including the sender and the subject line. Make emails personal and targeted. Targeting email as opposed to sending the same mail to every single person in your database makes sure that your campaigns get to actual interested parties. This requires a segmented database which leads to higher click-through rates.
If someone signed up for an email from you, they obviously intend to be kept in the loop on information that they would not get elsewhere, information that is timely and relevant. I once subscribed to a jobs site and they would send me job alerts from over a year ago. That is far from good.
Bottom-line is, that even those who say email marketing is dead admit that the only way to revive it is focussing on the content rather than email marketing itself i.e. mode of delivery. Once you dish out quality content, then the rest is up to customers, current and potential to spread the word for you. And remember to content it, not everything, you have to promote the content.