Electronic Newsletter / Email Marketing

One of the best ways you can increase the volume of visitors to your website is to build up a contact list and send out regular email newsletters.
Why run an email campaign?
Email remains one of the great uses of the internet and despite the hassles associated with Spam it is still an extremely effective tool to communicate with your customers and prospective customers.
Used correctly, email is cheap, can help you to build brand awareness and develop relationships with your existing customers. It can also help turn your website browsers into buying customers.
You can spend a lot of time and money developing a good website - but just having a website alone does not guarantee that people will visit and, more importantly, revisit your site.
However, a simple and relatively inexpensive method to get people back to your site on a regular basis is to email them. You can use email campaigns to make people aware of your site, send newsletters or to feature new services or products.
The underlying concept behind email marketing is to "push" visitors to your website.
Sending email is a great way to instantly test your overall marketing. You can send different versions of you email out and work out what items create the most interest with your contacts. Subsequently you can refine the best ad and use it in subsequent promotions.
You can launch a new product by sending to your contact list an email outlining the new product, how it will benefit them and where they can get it.
Another good use of email campaigns is to conduct surveys.
Survey Monkey provides excellent survey software. http://www.surveymonkey.com/
However, in order to run a successful email campaign you need to have a list of email address to send to.

1. Where to get your email addresses from.

Options to build up an email contact list include:
• Website opt-in lists: Using an opt-in list builder on your website allows you to continually collect subscribers to your newsletter to allow you to organically grow your email list.
• Paper forms: Every form you issue to clients should include details of your newsletter subscription.
• Business cards: When you conduct a function or event try to collect the business cards of your guests advising them you may be sending them an email in the future.
• White pages/yellow pages/online directories.
• Newsletters: Provide a subscription opportunity within your newsletter so that when it is forwarded the new reader can also subscribe.
• Viral campaigns: Encourage recipients to forward your email to some else who they think may be interested in what is included in the email. In the email environment imitation is not the highest form of flattery – forwarding is.

2. Preparing and sending out emails

• Text versus graphics. HTML provide more flexibility in layouts, colours, fonts and use of images. However we recommend that you do not go over the top with graphics in your email campaigns. People hate emails that are slow to download so limit the size of your photos/graphics. Never send an email that is completely graphics because if the recipient has images turned off they will see nothing. Ideally the email should reflect your corporate design so that it becomes an integral part of your overall marketing plan.
• Email information. How long should your email be?
A US study by the company Email Labs reported that users often spend 15-20 seconds on each email they open. Therefore if the reason for your email is not immediately clear to the recipient it’s more than likely you will not receive the desired response. Probably the best way to make your email concise is to include relevant links, including, if appropriate, a call to action. A clear call to action can be one of the crucial elements of a successful email campaign so make sure it is easy to follow. Research indicates that text links are more effective than graphic links but a good option is to include both. Links are also a much better option than attachments because it keeps the size of the email to a minimum. If you have the recipients’ first names it can be an advantage to personalise each email. Often the first name is sufficient but for some campaigns both first and surnames may be more appropriate.
A poorly executed email campaign with spelling errors, broken links etc can harm a customer/prospect relationship but a well thought out email can enhance the relationship and help drive customer loyalty.
• Subject headings: It is crucial that you have a short, appropriate subject heading on your email. Otherwise you risk having your email deleted as spam before it gets opened. US research indicates that to be most effective your subject should be less than 50 characters.
• When to send: According to eROI’s recently released Q2 2006 report on email statistics a lot depends on whether it’s a B2C or B2B message. The report found that Monday and Tuesday are the preferred days for receiving B2B email, while Thursday appeals to consumers.
eROI also reported that Saturday and Sunday had the highest open rates, while Thursday and Saturday lead the way in click rates.
The report is available here: http://www.eroi.com/eroi-email-marketing-statistics-q206-study.html
• Testing: Prior to sending out your email campaign we recommend that you set up a small test list that you can access such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo as well as Outlook. This will ensure you know your email reproduces the way it should and it also helps test getting though spam filters.

3. Bounces

• What is a bounce: Electronic mail that is returned to the sender because it cannot be delivered for some reason. Basically there are two categories of bounces – hard bounces and soft bounces. Hard bounces are emails that bounce back to the sender because the address is invalid. Soft bounces are recognised by the recipient’s email server but are returned for a variety of reasons such as a full mailbox, or the mail server is temporarily unavailable.
• How to overcome bounces. Obviously the most important thing to do is to monitor your bounces and remove your hard bounces from your list so that your updated list remains “clean” and deliverable.
If you have other contact details you can try to contact the person either by fax, sms or mail.

4. Spam.

• What is Spam. Spam is the term generally used to refer to unsolicited electronic messages, usually transmitted to large numbers of recipients. Common characteristics of Spam include:
1. They are sent in an untargeted and indiscriminate manner;
2. They include or promote illegal or offensive content;
3. They collect or use personal information in breach of the Privacy Act 1998 National Privacy Principles;
4. They are sent in a manner that disguises the originator;
5. They do not offer a valid and functional address to which recipients may send messages opting out of receiving further unsolicited messages.
• Opt-out facility (unsubscribe)

However, not all bulk email is considered to be spam.
To ensure your email does not get classified as spam by recipients always make sure your emails include an opt-out facility.
Where the opt-out facility is provided make sure it is not misleading or difficult to activate.
Do not send messages to a recipient who has opted out of your contact list.
Make sure you always include a valid email address within your email so the recipient can contact you.
Most ISPs now utilise external spam filters which can prevent emails being delivered just based on certain words/symbols being included.
These include $ signs, free, sex and mortgage.
Some online newsletters, you may have noticed, change a word like sex to s-x just to ensure the article passes through spam filters.

Marketing

• Who reads it. Email reporting helps provide insights into the effectiveness of your emails in a variety of ways. By using email systems such as getMail you will know:
1. Approximately how many recipients have opened your message (open rate)
2. How many of your recipients have clicked on specific links in your message (click through rate)
3. How many of the contacts on your list are bouncing or unsubscribing
4. The effectiveness of changing individual elements of your email such as subject line and the position of links.
What is a good open and click through rate? This depends on the industry and type of email campaign. However, the general benchmarks are between 5% to 10% for click though and 25% to 35% for open rates.
• Follow up. If a recipient has opened your email more than once, forwarded it, and/or clicked on some of your links that’s a good sign they are worth following up. Follow up can be by way of further emails, or personal contact via a phone call.

Also, being able to monitor the results of your email campaigns allows you to deliver in future campaigns what your recipients have shown they are interested in.
It is important to evaluate your unsubscribes because if the number of people wanting to be removed from your list increases you need to review the content and frequency of your emails.