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Basics of Email Marketing


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Email -- if you're not doing it, you should. There are few other tactics for acquiring and converting customers that are so effective and cost-conscious. But if you've never done email previously, the options might seem daunting. In this three-part series, we'll look at the basics of email (including key terminology), how to setup and manage your first email campaign, and how to grow a list through great content.

Why Email?

When you try to acquire customers for your business, you have a lot of different marketing tactics at your disposal -- print advertisements, press releases, events, partnership, social media. The list is virtually endless. But among the tactics you can choose, email marketing might be the one most worth your investment of time and attention.

Consider the following:

  • Email sells -- in a recent DMA study (2012), 67% of respondents identified email as providing the best ROI of any tactic (more than twice the response of any other tactic).
  • Email is opt-in -- Building a strong list of subscribers who actually want to receive your offers is a hugely worthy investment in your business you can capitalize on over and over again.
  • Email is targeted -- Craft and serve offers to specific groups and watch your response rate shoot up. Serve irresistable content to targeted groups that really want it and see your list grow.
  • Email is optimizable -- you can create list segments, A/B test offers and subjects, and study your performance each time to improve.

"Having an effective and easy-to-use email marketing service is a critical element for nearly every small business website. Incorporating email marketing into your site provides an opportunity to turn website visitors into subscribers and prospects and eventually into customers," writes Mitchell York.

So how do you create a successful email marketing program? In this first of a three-part series on acquiring and retaining customers through email marketing, we'll look at the basic terminology of email marketing.

The ABC's of Email Marketing

The "List" - Your "list" is a compilation of email addresses you collect through your email signup form and other methods.

Bounce Rate - the proportion of emails rejected by your lists' recipients' email servers

Whitelist - A whitelist includes IP addresses that have been approved to deliver email to a recipient.

"Permission-based" marketing -- your list receives messages from you because they've asked to be on your list.

The Multipart/Alternative MIME format -- offering recipients a choice of email formats, HTML or plain text.

Email applications -- customers will get your messages in all sorts of different email applications, such as desktop clients like Apple Mail and Outlook, webmail clients like Yahoo and Gmail, and mobile interfaces.

Double Opt-In -- A prospective customer not only signs up on your site but also confirms their interest in your list through a subsequent email. This is the recommended method of building an email list.

Open Rate -- The percentage of emails opened in an email marketing campaign, or the percentage opened of the total number of emails sent.

Conversion Rate -- The percentage of recipients who respond to your call-to-action in an email marketing campaign or promotion. This is one measure of your email campaign's success.

Clicks Per Open -- A percentage measure of the number of clicks divided by the number of opens.

List Segmentation -- Selecting a target audience or group of individuals for whom your email message is relevant. A segmented list means a more targeted and relevant email campaign, thus a higher response rate and less unsubscribes and spam reports.

Ready start that first email? Be sure to read the next article in this series, getting your email program started.

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