By Robert Burko
E-mail marketing experienced another year of explosive growth as more and more businesses around the globe have discovered how easy, affordable and effective e-mail marketing software can be. From small mom and pop' stores, to large multinational organizations, e-mail marketing appears to be filling a void that has long restricted effective targeted communication.
While each different business finds its own way to harness e-mail marketing to yield the greatest results, a few trends were clear in 2007. Even though most e-mail marketing software solutions can be adapted to suit a variety of needs, after analyzing millions upon millions of e-mails in 2007, the following five tactics, approaches or uses led the pack.
By leaps and bounds, the number one use of e-mail marketing in 2007 was newsletters. The frequency varied greatly from some organizations opting for a monthly newsletter and others using weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly or even the very ambitious (for content-rich organizations) daily. It remains very clear that sending out an e-mail newsletter to your customers is an effective communication tool.
Many businesses use their e-mail newsletter as an important brand-building exercise. The more the business can keep its name (or logo) in front of customers, the more that company will be the top choice when the customer needs to make a purchase. Furthermore, by providing good quality content in these newsletters, companies can establish themselves as a leading authority on the topic.
2007 also made it very obvious that the success of an e-mail newsletter is based on the quality of the content. Businesses that tried to send out an e-mail newsletter without really having much to say saw increased unsubscribe requests, while businesses that provided high-quality content experienced rapid viral growth.
Most e-mail marketing software solutions offer a wide variety of newsletter templates. By choosing the right e-mail marketing software for your newsletter, your business can find a template that fits perfectly with your brand's look, feel, and color scheme.
2. Special Promotions/eCoupons
E-mail marketing acted as a key driver of new sales in 2007, as companies offered special promotions or eCoupons to their mailing list subscribers. By sending out an e-mail marketing campaign to all past customers, businesses found that special deals (whether it was a discount, free shipping, etc.) tended to cause an instant spike in sales.
Since eCoupons have proven time and time again to be highly effective, most e-mail marketing software solutions offer customizable eCoupon templates that can easily be adapted to suit any specific offer.
Offering exclusive coupons to mailing list subscribers has statistically been proven to increase the size of any businesses mailing list. Many offline companies have started putting signup forms near their cash registers to prompt people to sign up to receive special eCoupons. Since these consumers are already interacting with your business, and since consumer behavior studies tell us that people love savings' or discounts', this really is the perfect way to help put your mailing list growth on turbo.
3. Event Announcements
Another area of growth for e-mail marketing in 2007 was the use of e-mail marketing software to announce company events. These events range from open houses, to town hall meetings and anything in between. In the past year, many companies and organizations discovered that e-mail marketing software provides a quick, easy and cost-effective way to spread the word about your event and then track responses and attendees.
Another popular category of events was concerts and entertainment shows. This type of e-mail marketing campaign was especially popular among MySpace artists and bands. These artists usually place an e-mail marketing mailing list signup box on their pages, so that they can gather the e-mail addresses of fans who visit their MySpace pages and keep them up to date on shows, new releases, etc. To make this process easier, many e-mail marketing software providers offer a free MySpace mailing list to all customers. (And, of course, if the artist or company has a regular Web page instead of a MySpace page, the free mailing list can be placed on the company Web page as well).
ECards were immensely popular in 2007 for several reasons. First, many consumers are becoming environmentally conscious, and they're making the switch to eCards instead of paper cards. These consumers realize that, in addition to the trees they're saving by cutting out paper, they're also eliminating the fuel and gas emissions that would be used in physically mailing these cards.
Secondly, companies and consumers alike are figuring out how much money they can save by switching from paper cards to eCards. While a box of ten holiday cards can cost upward of $20 (plus stamps and shipping fees), most e-mail marketing software will allow you to send up to 1,000 eCards absolutely free no stamps and no shipping fees. Lastly, there's the speed factor. While companies sending out paper cards have to hand write or individually print each one, the smart companies sending eCards only have to write their message once. The best e-mail marketing software programs will automatically insert the names of recipients in each message, so the company doesn't even have to do anything.
The trend toward eCards was especially prevalent in the holiday season, as companies sent out warm wishes to their customers, at virtually no cost. However, there are many other holidays throughout the year, and customers love to feel appreciated. Companies can tap into this benefit by sending out cards for Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Birthdays and many other celebrations, as the best e-mail marketing software programs offer special templates for each occasion. To get the best bang for their buck, businesses can even combine eCards with special themed promotions.
5. Business Updates/Press Releases
E-mail marketing is not only a great way to send out newsletters, promotions, and eCards, it's also an excellent way to expand the reach of business announcements. For example, if you're sending out a press release, you might only think about using a press release distribution site to do so. However, you can expand the distribution of your release, and increase its impact, by also using e-mail marketing software for the distribution. This way, you can reach people you already know (for example, reporters you have been in contact with in the past, or current customers), and track their interest in your press release.
Businesses have also realized that e-mail marketing is a great medium for making business announcements. For example, you may be moving or opening a new store, you may be re-launching your Web site, or you may start carrying a new line of products. Either way, you can use e-mail marketing software to tell your customers about that.
In 2007, countless companies discovered the many uses of e-mail marketing. They saved money, improved efficiency and effectively tracked their results simply by getting on board with e-mail marketing software. For some, the key advantage of e-mail marketing software is that the best ones are really easy to use. That is, there is no need to fret if you don't have an IT guy, because as long as you can check and write e-mails, you'll be able to look like a pro with the right e-mail marketing software.
Robert Burko is the president of EliteE-mail.com.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|