Old Practice, New Techniques: Modern Email Marketing Tips for Smart Business Owners

While it’s important for marketers to use a mix of methods both new and old, email is the foundation that holds up the edifice. It is as successful as it is for a number of reasons.

To begin, nearly every consumer worldwide has access to email, and reaching them doesn’t cost anything no matter what the distance or remoteness. Marketers only spend on mailing lists and creating attractive copy; the return on investment on each dollar spent is usually in the order of thousands of times.

As impressive as return on anything invested in email marketing tends to be, marketers need to keep reinventing their approach to sustain such levels. A number of trends have emerged.

It’s time to stop with the fake friendliness

“I’m a sucker for simulated hospitality,” George Clooney says in the movie Up in the Air, referring to the kind of fake, computer-prompted first-name familiarity that airlines and hotels like to give their guests. Email marketers overwhelmingly favor it, too. They tend to be acutely aware of the way they send out thousands of faceless emails, and do what they can to compensate with first name personalization. Studies now show, though, that such personalization only tends to put people on their guard about being sold to. It tends to make for a far better effect to not pretend.

Unmarket to people

Unmarketing is an approach to marketing that attempts to get people’s attention without letting them appear to be marketing. A number of methods exist. One involves giving emails the appearance of a forwarded message. When people see a Re or Fwd in the subject line, they often let their guard down. Another involves making recipients believe that an email is work-related, rather about buying something. People pay attention to things that are work-related. As long as such marketing is created carefully and in a non-abusive way, it can work.

Mobile-optimize everything

Two out of three times, people open emails on their mobile phones first. Since many email programs do not have priority inboxes, marketing messages usually do get opened. Fortunately, marketers often neglect to mobile-optimize their messages, meaning that they don’t get nearly as far as they could.

Mobile optimizing marketing emails involves a number of steps. To begin, emails need to be self-contained. Any attempt to take the user outside of the email app tends to be viewed as an annoyance.

Since mobile screens tend to be small, it’s also important to create marketing copy that utilizes quick, easy to sort points, rather than dense text.

Use direct mail to build a quality mailing list

Direct mail may seem anachronistic and expensive in today’s world of electronic-oriented marketing. Yet, electronic messages works only when one has a quality mailing list. Direct mail can be an excellent way to build one. One can go as small-scale as one wants, too. You only need to buy the best printer for envelopes and inserts that you can find, and fire off a few dozen to specific recipients in each neighborhood.

Never mind a call to action

Emails are one of the cheapest forms of marketing possible. This means that marketers do not need to work every email with a call to action. Most can simply be about giving recipients good, solid information that they appreciate. It’s a form of unmarketing that is intended to build trust. It is also a way to come to be seen as a provider of beneficial inputs. When it comes to such communication, email tends to be unequaled for cost-effectiveness and reach.

Kimberly Barnes is a busy marketing consultant. She enjoys sharing her experiences online. Her articles are available mostly on business websites.

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