Any online business or venture should include email marketing in it’s customer retention strategy.
Although social media has pushed email into the background in recent years, this medium still has it’s plus points that cannot be ignored.
So, let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons and consider the question at hand.
“What is Email marketing?”
Disclosure : Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What Is Email Marketing – Explained
Although everyone is obsessed with social media these days, email marketing is far from dead.
In fact, some would say it is experiencing a revival of sorts.
You may be thinking, “Emails are old news. Everyone texts direct messages each other on social media now”
I cannot disagree fully with this statement.
However, I did say “Fully”.
Just as everyone got sick of being bombarded with spam emails, the same problem has started to infest social media.
We will look at this aspect a little further on in this article, but for now let’s take a look at what email marketing actually is.
Email marketing as a concept is pretty straight forward.
A person, brand, or business, builds a mailing list via opt in forms on their website and then sends the subscribers emails related to their product or service.
That is the concept in a nutshell.
There are services available that allow the user to create opt in forms for their websites so that people can subscribe.
This is also known as “opt in” marketing or “permission based” marketing.
When a person decides to join an email newsletter list, they typically only have to enter in their name and email address.
They will then receive an email that asks them to click a link to confirm they are willing to receive emails from the newsletter creator.
Simply put, they are giving permission for their email to be included in the mailing list and to send them their newsletter.
This not only protects the subscriber from getting signed up to lists they do not want to be part of, but also protects the list holder from non compliance with Spam laws.
In 2003 laws were passed to prevent the sending of unsolicited emails due to the horrendous amount of spam emails people were receiving.
It is enforced by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) so it is very wise for marketers to stay on the right side of those laws.
Here is an official page regarding this topic Can-Spam
I personally would not be surprised if variants of these laws are applied to social media at some point in the future.
The best way to stay compliant with the laws is to use a email opt in service which we will look at in the next section.
Email Marketing Services
There are plenty of email marketing software services available and all have their own features and tools.
For example, here is a video from the GetResponse Youtube channel
The two biggest services in my opinion are Aweber and Getresponse.
I have tried both and have found that they each have their pros and cons with regards to what I want from such a service.
The best thing to do is to take a look for yourself as both have Free Trials available.
How To Build An Email Marketing List
Once you have chosen your service and are ready to start attracting subscribers, the first thing you need to do is to create and install an opt in form on your website.
Both the services, and any other you may decide to choose, will have ready made opt in form templates.
Some may give you the option to create your own or modify the existing templates.
You should aim to have your opt in form stand out on your page, and as you can see, I have installed mine as a widget on this site.
This means it is always present on every page on my site.
I also mention it in some of my posts in order to encourage people to sign up after they have read my content.
Once you have installed the opt in form on your site you should aim to encourage people to join by offering value.
Value can be offered via special offers or discounts available to subscribers only.
For example, if you own a clothing business you could offer 10% off discount codes in your newsletter that only subscribers would be aware of.
Now, I know your next thought is “Well, won’t they just give the discount code out to friends and family or post it all over the internet?”
This means they are promoting your code and therefore products to new people you may not have reached originally.
They are bringing you new customers and promoting you for free.
Not such a bad thing, is it?
There are many ways that you can offer value for your newsletter subscribers.
Member Only Content.
Pre-Order Options On New Products.
Invites To Exclusive Events.
With a little bit of thought, research, and creativity, you can put together benefits relevant to your business.
Obviously, with this site being focused on affiliate marketing, I will list a few options that affiliates can use in their newsletters.
Offer free courses that are delivered via the newsletter.
Free E-book download access to your latest project.
Discount Codes for the products you are promoting. (Be sure to see if the affiliate program you are promoting offers such codes and also allows you to market via email)
Product brochures only available to subscribers first for a limited time before going public.
As I said above, a little creativity can go a long way.
My newsletter offers member only content periodically, discount codes and offers, and also notifies them of new content on the site.
I also only send the newsletter once a week.
Which leads me to my next point.
Email Marketing Tips
Although I mentioned Spam briefly above and pointed out the laws on opt-in practices, that is not the end of the story.
Do NOT constantly bombard your subscribers!
I cannot tell you how many email newsletters I have opted out of because they bombarded me with emails.
I’m referring to some big companies, not just individuals or small businesses.
I have been on email lists that have literally emailed me offers every few hours.
I opted in because I was interested in their products etc, not because I wanted them to harass me all day.
Honestly, If I owned that company and found out that my marketing department was subjecting my customers to that level of harassment.
Well, warnings would be given, and if not heeded, people would be looking for work elsewhere.
That may sound harsh.
But see it from my perspective.
The federal trade commission literally had to step in and create laws to prevent that exact kind of behavior.
Because it is harassment and aggravates people.
Why would I want to pay someone who is harassing my customers and driving them away?
Opt-in compliance is only half of the story.
It is not a license or green light to bombard customers just because you are on the right side of the law with opt-in!
Also, see it from the customers point of view.
They like your products or content and are interested enough to opt-in so they can receive your newsletter.
If they receive four or five emails a day, not only is it aggravating, it also reeks of desperation.
It also gives the impression that you simply see them as a cash cow and are trying to milk them dry.
Customers are aware they are customers.
They have also trusted you enough to give you permission to contact them.
Do not abuse that trust because all you will achieve is a lot of people unsubscribing and maybe even avoiding your website/products altogether.
As I said, I have experienced this many times, and have in some cases, vowed to never buy a product from that business.
All because someone was “send button trigger happy”.
I have ranted a little here to highlight the importance of this.
Cultivate relationships and trust with your subscribers.
Do not abuse their trust or aggravate them.
Transactions are built on trust.
Destroy that trust and you crush your chances of transactions.
Now that is out of the way, let’s take a look at some positive tips for your email marketing.
Be consistent on delivery.
Ensure that you set a day to send your newsletter and keep to it.
If you decide you are going to send one every Wednesday or the 15th of every month, then keep to it.
Don’t get me wrong, it is fine in my opinion to send a newsletter a couple of times a week, but I personally would not go past that.
some people may advise differently, but I think that is acceptable to most customers.
I also think that you can post too infrequently.
The aim of e-mail marketing is to reach out to your customers and stay current in their mind as you build trust.
So only sending once a month is not the best policy, unless your newsletter is full of content and is likely to convert sales each time it is delivered.
Personally I think once, perhaps twice, a week is optimal.
Make it worth reading.
I have had newsletters that are so bare, literally a couple of sentences and a link to a product or some content.
I have also had newsletters that are basically product brochures each time they are delivered.
I would actually prefer the product brochure to arrive once a week, than have an e-mail with two sentences and a link.
This is also dictated by your niche/products and also how much new content you produce.
There is not much appealing about receiving the same brochure every week.
This is why I advise making your newsletter interesting and something your readers will look forward to.
Think of a newsletter as a cross between a brochure and a blog or social media post.
Make it interesting, informative, and visually appealing if possible.
Encourage people to share.
One thing a lot of newsletters do not do is ask their readers to spread the word.
Your subscribers are subscribed because they are interested in hearing from you.
People generally become friends because they share common interests.
If you have a newsletter based around outdoor pursuits such as hiking, then be assured your subscribers have friends who like hiking.
In real life or on social media.
Ask them to mention your newsletter to their friends and they may do just that.
Again, treat your readers with respect.
Simply add a message at the bottom, such as, “If you enjoyed this newsletter, I’d greatly appreciate it if you mentioned it to your friends and followers”
Nothing outrageous or pushy.
Just simply a polite request.
You would be surprised at what results you may attain from such a simple request.
Email Marketing Vs Social Media
As I mentioned above, E-mail marketing is starting to make a resurgence despite the current, seemingly overwhelming, dominance of social media marketing.
I can already hear the shocked gasps and snorts of derision.
Let me tell you why I think this.
Before we start, I’m not even remotely suggesting that social media marketing is dying or that email marketing is going to retake its crown.
Absolutely no way.
That is not going to happen ever in my opinion.
However…..I am a person of opportunity and always looking for green fields where the herd is not stampeding all over each other to get a bite of grass.
E-mail marketing was once a chaotic spam filled mess with everyone jostling and screaming to get noticed.
It was hugely overcrowded, and lead to the situation of people avoiding subscribing to email lists due to being bombarded all day.
Email marketing almost died because of the sheer amount of people vying for attention and harassing the market place.
As I said earlier, it got so bad the FTC stepped in.
This caused a lot of true professional marketers to go elsewhere.
Social media was the destination and huge fortunes were, are, and will be made.
Like any gold rush in history.
There is an old saying about the original gold rush days when hordes of people swarmed to California looking to make a fortune from gold mining in the 1800’s.
“Do you know who made the most money in the gold rush? The people selling the shovels and picks!”
This is my opinion on a lot of social media marketing today and what caused it to attract swarms of people trying to make money there marketing.
Once some smart people figured out how to leverage the power of social media marketing, they then went on to create step by step courses and sold them.
They are the ones selling “shovels and picks” to the hordes of fortune seekers.
I have several social media accounts for each of my various ventures and all day every day I get direct messages trying to sell me something.
Usually social media “shovels and picks”.
“Hey I love your posts….I can grow your followers by 20k a month..Follow me and DM me direct”
This and many other variants.
I also seem to be getting a rash of direct messages that follow the blueprint of.
“Love your content, you should check out my friend so and so…Follow them for awesome content daily”.
I’m guessing this is how some of them get people 20k followers a month and charge them for it.
By spamming hell out of people all day.
Sounds an awful lot like the old E-mail spam days.
Do you agree?
So, we are edging towards the point, where people are taking no notice of most direct messages.
The herd is stampeding all over each other trying to get a bite of the grass.
This is an opportunity for people to fill the vacuum left in E-mail marketing in my opinion.
I’m not saying abandon social media marketing.
Its way too effective and is only going to grow.
But, I am saying, there are fresh opportunities in the E-mail marketing field.
Not as many people dirtying it’s name by spamming people as in the past, because most of them have moved over to social media and are busily harassing people there.
Take a moment to consider that.
Email marketing may not be quite as effective as it once was and may still be stigmatized in its own way.
But the field is a hell of a lot less crowded than it was.
The smart cookies among you may create opportunities there.
You could then be the ones selling shovels and picks……