With the current trend of social marketing being cool, many think that email marketing is a thing of the past. Many seem to think it was something you did 5 years ago because there wasn’t a better option. This is a bad mindset to take. While email marketing has developed a bad name around itself, it can still be a highly effective method of reaching customers, if done correctly. With this great institutional shift to move into social network driven marketing, there has been a void that a savvy marketer can utilize to his/her advantage. To start off, the old salesman’s adage the money is in the list, is ever more true today with email marketing. Keeping a clean and relevant list is paramount—first for maximizing your ROI (return on investment), and second, to reduce the amount of potential spam complaints. While there are numerous effective ways to build a list, I always recommend trying to start with your existing customer base. If you don’t have a list already, incentivize your customers into subscribing. Creating some giveaways or competition are easy ploys to get the ball rolling. This is great because you know that existing customers are your prime demographic. If you are a brick and mortar, this is a great time to use in-store signage, be it point-of-sale or elsewhere.
Sage advice to those just starting out
One of the major mistakes many of those newer to the game of e-commerce and internet marketing make is not grasping that you don’t have to make the sale the first time you make contact with a new customer. Try for something smaller and simpler, get their email, then their dollars. Once you have their email, the door to a two-way communication is open and you can call them back for more.
Now if you’re new to email marketing, there is a cardinal rule you never want to forget. Once you get their email, you want to make the first contact with them immediately. Why? First and foremost, it tells you that their email is valid. Now if you’ve done some email marketing research, you’ll see people spouting about how either single opt-in or double opt-in campaigns are the way to go. A single opt-in allows the user to simply submit his/her email to become registered. Double opt-in requires the registrant to confirm his/her wish to receive further emails by clicking a confirmation in a validation email before being truly registered. So what is the best method? There are pros and cons to each method. Single opt-in will grow you the largest list, but many times the list will be unresponsive. With a double opt-in approach, you are guaranteed that all registered users were at a valid email at the time of registration. Many in the industry will argue that single opt-in tends to go to trash email accounts that users never check. To that I say this, I have a trash email account I use to sign up for both single and double opt-in for websites that I'm not sure if I really want the content they are offering and then change it later if I find them to be legit. Personally, I would say to maximize your overall reach, stick to a single opt-in with an immediate initial contact. It will reinforce your brand in the consumer's eye and they will have the option to unsubscribe within the email in any case. Set the system up in such a way that if that initial email bounces they are removed from the list. If you want the most responsive list possible, stick with a double opt-in. Whatever method you use, good list maintenance is key. It never hurts to run an A/B split test (send half to a single opt-in and half to a double opt-in) and find out what your target demographic responds to. Armed with that information, you can make a easy selection of one method over the other. Once you have your new growing list of willing subscribers, it is absolutely critical that you keep a regular content publication schedule. This will have three effects. First, the customer becomes accustomed to your emails and does not suddenly question why he/she is receiving one out of the blue. This cuts down on the chance of spam complaints. The second is you subconsciously will begin establishing a level of brand trust with the consumer. Thirdly, you will keep the amount of bounces per campaign down to a minimum. This will allow you to cull bad emails gradually instead of receiving a mass of bounces and spam complaints in one campaign. Even the most cared for email list will have an attrition rate of around 25% a year.