With the extension of social networking and online advertising we wonder about the continuity of emails as a marketing tool. In fact, email marketing enjoys very good health. However, it had to adapt to the new environment to be effective.
What is dead is email marketing based on mass mailing without knowing the target audience, customizing content to their behavior and preferences, and tracking the performance of campaigns. Those companies that continue to use this outdated model are destined to disappear, overtaken by new strategies, more dynamic, adaptable and intelligent.
1. Two target audiences, two strategies
The first thing to do to carry out an effective email marketing strategy is to design two different strategies aimed at two different target audiences.
On the one hand, we have all those people and companies with which there has been a prior contact. This includes our current customers, people we have met in some event (meeting, conference, exhibition …) or who have given us their email (through direct contact, newsletter subscription or any other form).
They know us and, to a greater or lesser degree, are interested in our company, our activities and our products and services. For this segment, email is probably the best marketing tool.
On the other hand, there are those potential customers with whom there has never been contact. In this case, a traditional email marketing strategy is useless. Nobody has requested to receive information and, therefore, our email is nothing more than advertising in the mailbox. Probably 90% of these potential customers will delete our email without even opening it and less than 1% will visit our website.
Our first goal should be turning our audience of the second segment into audience of the first one. This means fostering all those situations in which contact is established: attending events (real or virtual), creating a newsletter, offering access to information through forms…
This is not always easy or possible. Therefore, the best strategy for this audience is based on the combination of different tools: content marketing, SEO, online advertising and customized email marketing. Let’s see.
2. Let them come to you
In 2013, Custora, a SaaS platform, published a report examining emergent e-commerce customer acquisition trends in the U.S. entitled “E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot”. Although the report only analyzes the behavior of customers towards e-commerce, the trends observed offer valid information for other sectors.
As seen in the chart below, organic search (search that generates results in web search engines that were not paid advertisements) and pay per click (internet advertising used to direct traffic to websites) lead as the largest channels for online customer acquisition.
Both channels are based on the relevance of content. This has two implications for companies: they need to create valuable content for their potential customers (content marketing), optimizing keywords to rank well in the organic search results (SEO).
3. Relevance, relevance, relevance
However, the graph also shows us that the email is the third most important channel and that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last 4 years.
Email is a very powerful marketing tool, but to be effective with potential customers with whom there has been no prior contact it needs to resort to the strategy used by the organic search and pay per click: relevance.
A few days ago, a friend told me: “When I receive emails from providers who I don’t know I delete them. However, yesterday I received a message from a booth design firm in Russia. I contacted with them because I’ve been looking for specialists in this country.”
The only possibility for a cold email to avoid being deleted is being relevant to the recipient. This means knowing our potential customers and adapting the content of the message to their needs and preferences.
4. Go away when you’re not welcomed
Any email sent without being requested must include an unsubscribe link. Sometimes we receive emails which indicate that we must send a message if we don’t want to receive those emails again. This option is totally stupid. Are they asking someone who doesn’t want anything to do with them to send them an email? Obviously, in these situations, most people mark the sender address as spam.
Don’t be afraid of being rejected. A request of unsubscription gives us a lot of information about our target audience.