What is email marketing all about?

Technical What is email marketing all about?

We have a lot of discussion with new and existing clients about email marketing, and we felt that it was worth putting down some thoughts on the common questions that we get asked so we can dispel some myths and make sure that everyone is informed and aware of what email marketing actually involves.

What is email marketing?

Firstly, lets look at what it is. Everyone gets emails, both good mail from known contacts, spam, and requested mail from trusted retailers – Amazon would be a good example here – whereby you enrol to receive their newsletters and will get these periodically, usually twice a month, which informs about relevant offers to the customer. This email that is received is not some random document put together because they think you might like it, it is a carefully thought out piece of marketing that is targeting certain products to certain customers.

How is an email marketing piece constructed?

Email marketing that contains text and images is broadly speaking a single webpage. Whichever agency you choose to use would go through a design – proof – build stepped system in the same way that a website traditionally would. The only difference being that email communications are restricted on some of the advanced layouts and functionality of a website due to the need to be compatible in a wide range of email programs, webmail services and mobile phones, yet still look good and present the right messaging. Once the design is crafted from the agreed content which could be mainly text, or products, news, or images, this is then passed to web developers to code as HTML with relevant links to websites / landing pages or email links.

How are they sent?

You might ask why can’t an email message be sent out through Outlook, bcc’d to contacts. We have seen this happen and this has the following problems:-

Bad email set up – on the whole, the technical settings for the domain name and the mail server that your business mail goes out through is likely to be incorrectly set up for best delivery likelihood through spam filters.

Email tracking – sending out your mail through anything other than a proper email marketing tool means that the data, opens and clicks can’t be tracked which ultimately makes it an unmeasurable campaign.

What is the target outcome for email marketing?

On the whole, outcome can be measured in two ways. Total number of reads and total number of clicks. Reads are the number of unique people from your database who opened the email and looked at it. Clicks are people who actively clicked on a link in the email to be taken to a landing page on the website.  Due to a quirk of  the way email marketing is tracked, links that open up a new email window to the client can’t be tracked, only links to websites can be.

We get asked a lot about what kind of response should be expected from an email campaign, this tends to depend on the source of a database.

From our own experience, existing customers and people who have chosen to opt in and receive the emails will generate the best response, up to approximately a 15% open rate. This sounds low but the reality is that with more and more spam filters being used and more emails received, it is just a fact of email marketing that most people won’t open the email even if it gets through.

Of the 15%, we find that approximately 1% will take positive action on the email and generate clicks. This number can vary wildly from 0.5% through to 10% but the average is 1% .

The reason we present these values to clients is so that expectation is set up front of what to expect, also it helps to work out what the optimal database size would be. Looking at the numbers above, you can see that unless the database size is considerable, in the multi-thousands, the numbers of potential leads/clicks don’t make it cost effective without an amazing contact list of 100% guaranteed to click customers, which doesn’t exist.

Metrics for data that has been sourced/purchased will see open and click rates lower than the above and will take repeated mail communications to warm up the list so that the users get used to receiving the emails.

Following up on email marketing

So we have users who click through to the landing page or website, then what? What if they don’t buy, or don’t fill in a form to communicate. This is where it’s important to have your sales team follow up on the clicks as hot leads as they will have read the email, clicked, and then read the information on your website. It is a good opportunity here to engage with those interested customers and strike while the iron is hot .

Legalities of email marketing

There are some legal issues around email marketing, and businesses should ensure that the data they are using is compliant with the relevant regulations for the country they are operating in. In the UK, the guidelines are set on the ICO website here http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/sector_guides/marketing – and whilst the rules for B2B marketing are not too onerous, the rules for B2C are considerably more problematic and we can never recommend emailing consumers or personal email addresses without ensuring opt-in status first.

In conclusion

As you can see, email marketing isn’t just a case of putting some pictures into an email in outlook with some text and hoping it works, it takes planning, design, thought, a relevant database, a professional and efficient email marketing system, technical advice, and this is why email marketing should form part of a structured marketing plan as bad email marketing will create more damage than good as it ruins reputations of businesses being treated as spammers, opens up liability of legal risk, and ultimately without proper advice becomes a futile exercise.

SO Marketing offers a range of email marketing services with prices starting from £225 + VAT

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