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The whys and hows of e-mail marketing

E-mail marketing gives businesspeople the opportunity to communicate with consumers on a personal level.

By: KC Calpo | Feb 13, 2012 10:00 am

E-mail marketing is exactly what the name implies: using electronic correspondence to deliver timely and detailed messages about a product or service to consumers. E-mail marketing remains an important part of an entrepreneur or company's arsenal of tools: unlike traditional methods and despite the dominance of Facebook and Twitter, e-mail marketing gives businesspeople the opportunity to communicate with consumers on a personal level.

[related|post]If you've never tried e-mail marketing for your business, now would be a great time to start! If done right, it can get you a bigger audience, as well as increase sales and brand awareness − especially during various holidays and special occasions (like Valentine's Day, which is less than a week away!). On the services side, e-mail marketing could help you generate new leads, as well as strengthen existing ones.

The industry may be marred by a few bad apples (okay, a lot of bad apples!), but e-mail marketing remains a lucrative tactic. Email Marketing Reports (EMR) provides the following numbers, culled from different web companies and sources: 350 million active users for GMail as of January 2012, the same number of users for Hotmail as of October 2011, and 310 million users for Yahoo! for that same month (last two are from comScore). In the United States alone, Kristen Purcell of Pew Internet has found that 92 percent of adults use e-mail as of August 2011. And several items in the 2010 Econsultancy study for both the United States and the United Kingdom indicate that consumers are receptive to e-mail marketing: 36 percent of the surveyed British consumers buy products online after getting e-mails and 57 percent like getting these e-mails if it provides them with a direct advantage, while 68 percent of the surveyed American consumers in the 18-26 age bracket use e-mailed coupons for online purchases.

Many have also made their predictions for e-mail marketing for 2012 and beyond. Shar VanBoskirk, Christine Spivey Overby and Sarak Takvorian of Forrester Research stated in August 2011  that interactive marketing (including e-mail) will help advertising spend go up as much as 26 percent of the estimated US$77 billion for 2016. David Daniels of ClickZ  has also put forth his predictions for this year, including increased consumer segmentation.

So how exactly do you do e-mail marketing? These tips will help you get started.

  • Always ask. No one likes unsolicited mail, whether in actual inboxes or those of the digital kind. After a customer purchases your product, ask if he/she would like to be included in your mailing list. You can have them sign a guestbook, leave their business card, and/or fill up a form. If you don't have a physical storefront, ask your Facebook/Twitter/Multiply friends and followers if they're open to getting product/service-related e-mails from you, and request their e-mail addresses only if and when they say yes. If they give their consent, it means they actually want to hear (or rather, read) more about what you and your company have to offer − a receptive audience can lead to repeat transactions and a loyal base.

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