E-Mail Marketing

Email marketing is a direct form of online marketing. A company has the opportunity to send its advertising material directly to its target group, provided the recipient has consented. This cost-effective variant as compared to print advertising is an important marketing tool for companies, preferably online stores. This is illustrated by the annual increase in commercial advertising budgets for this sector. Newsletters are the classic form of email marketing.

Background

Email marketing is frequently equated with newsletter mailings. However, email marketing involves more than just the regular mailing of newsletters to customers or prospective customers. Factually, any promotional or sales-promoting email can be considered part of email marketing. This can be a reminder email concerning a unpurchased shopping cart or a note about a current promotional action. Communication in email marketing can take place between individuals (one-to-one) or between a company and whole groups of persons (one-to-many). In principle, the consignee's consent is necessary for the sending of advertising or information emails, since these emails may otherwise lead to the issuing of warnings as illicit advertising. The recipients’ consent is generally limited only to the receipt of regular newsletters.

How to develop an email campaign

In order to spark the reader’s interest, especially the introductory sentences of the writing must be convincing. This is the only way to prevent the reading process from being interrupted. Attention is the highest after opening the newsletter and decreases with every additional line. The procedure is different in print copy. Suspense can be built up to the end of the letter. The content should be kept brief and formulated personally. Division into sub-sections facilitates reading and keeps the receiver in a good mood.

The subject line plays a special role. If it does not succeed in sparking the recipient’s interest in the content, the campaign has missed its targets. The mailing schedule should be sensible. A flood of information and too long of a time gap between newsletters are equally disadvantageous. A separate cover letter for different target groups would be recommendable to convey the desired information even more specifically.

Thorough evaluation cannot be dispensed with to ensure a continuous improvement of the newsletters. If the planned goals have been missed, the cause needs to be established.

The mailing time should also be included in the planning of the email campaign. Is it better to send an email in the morning? Is it more likely for the target group to read emails on weekends? Although these questions cannot be answered clearly, they can be defined in advance and then subsequently optimized through testing.

Goals of email marketing

First and foremost, email marketing pursues the goal of new customer acquisition and customer loyalty. Newsletters regularly inform about product innovations, upcoming events or internal changes. This integrates the recipient into the company. The recipients are a part of the company, even if indirectly at the beginning, and this connection can be strengthened with each newsletter.

In addition, brand awareness can be improved through this medium. The image of a product or an entire company can be maintained or directed in a completely new direction through appealing email advertisement. An good image entails growing customer confidence and a growing market value. Last but not least, email marketing is also a popular tool for product and market research.

Advantages compared to the print advertising

  • No material costs
  • Fast mailing and immediate response from customers
  • High customer interest, since the receipt of the newsletter has given consent
  • Immediate success control through web analysis possible
  • Lower lead time than print advertisement
  • Additional retargeting options

Possible disadvantages of email marketing

  • Due to the high number of advertising emails, they often receive little attention.
  • Digital emails can easily be perceived as less valuable than printed products.
  • In the case of a high number of subscribers or recipients, the costs for email marketing can also be higher.
  • A too high mailing frequency can result in a defensive attitude from the recipient.

Success measurement of the marketing campaign

A successful campaign can be reflected by selectively increased traffic to a website, as well as increasing sales or conversion. The KPIs cost per click (CPC) and cost per sale provide meaningful information. The prerequisite for success is that the emails arrive and no bounce messages occur.

Tools such as MailChimp or HubSpot can be used to launch and follow up email campaigns. However, it is also possible to provide all links of an email campaign with URL parameters which can be analyzed by analysis tools such as Google Analytics.

A link with appropriate tracking parameters might look like this:

 www.examplesite.com/?utm_source=Newsletter%202015&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=promotional_action%201

In this way, the traffic source and campaigns could be specified in more detail in the web analytics tool.

Open rate

The open rate is an important KPI in email marketing. All emails of a newsletters or other mailing which are opened count. The open rate is expressed as a percentage and is the number of opened emails divided by the total number of emails sent, multiplied by 100. bounces are not included.

An example:

An online shop sends 10,000 newsletters to its customers. Of this, 4,000 are actually opened. The open rate is therefore 40 percent.  

Open Rate=4000:10000*100=40% 

However, the open rate is a relative value, unlike other tracking mechanisms. This is caused by the tracking method itself in addition to other factors. The opening of an email is registered via a tracking pixel, that is, a minimum-sized image graphic. However, since many mail programs or even mobile devices do not open image data by default, it cannot be guaranteed that all openings have actually been tracked using the open rate. In order to refine the measurement method, it is usually also taken into account whether the recipient has clicked a link in the mail. This click can be considered actual evidence for opening a mailing.

Even if the open rate percentage is only a guideline, this KPI can help with a comparison between individual mailings. Thus, the opening rate can be optimized as a next step by writing the subject line of the email or newsletter in such a way as to motivate the recipient to open it and create interest.

The metric click-to-open-rate (CTOR) is an extension of the open rate. Moreover, information can be obtained on the ratio of openings versus clicks. The open rate as such does not reveal anything about the interaction with an email that has been opened. The CTOR, however, can be used to determine the extent to which the interest in a mailing has been sparked or how effectively the recipient has been motivated to click offers or links for further information.

Relevance to online marketing

Email marketing is underestimated by many advertisers as a sales-promoting instrument for customer loyalty. At the same time, the effort involved in email campaigns is often misjudged. The success of an email campaign can be strongly influenced by many individual factors. The mailing time in itself is an important criterion that should be included in the planning of the email campaign. The target groups as well as the mailing frequency also play an important role. Like all successful online marketing activities, email marketing should be designed and conceived. It is necessary to structure all factors including a theme plan, the documentation of the sent emails, segmentation of the recipients, and clarification of all legal requirements. Only then can all advantages of the digital advertising mail be utilized like an extensive evaluation. All result reports should then be incorporated into the creation of the follow-up to increase campaign success in the long term.

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