E-mail is now the number one means of communication for business in the United States: last year, according to Forrester Research, e-mail messages outnumbered all other forms of business communication combined. No wonder. E-mail is the fastest and most economical method of direct communication. At the same time, “e-mail fatigue” caused by stuffed electronic in-boxes and increasing spam can lead to quick use of the delete button before messages are even read. The same Forrester report found that today’s computer users are 47% less likely to read all the e-mail they receive than those surveyed in the year 2000.
What does this mean for e-mail marketing?
Quite simply, your e-mail marketing has to reach a higher standard now than in the past. It has to embody the three Es:
You may not be thinking in terms of ethics when you plan your marketing campaign, but you are certainly concerned that your prospects – or their e-mail service providers — will banish your mass e-mailing to their junk mail folders. At Sharp Hue, Inc., we’ve found that ethical e-mail practices are the best defense.
Buying an e-mail address list or harvesting e-mail addresses from third-party sources seems like a quick and easy way to generate leads, but it is ineffective. When recipients don’t recognize your name, they are likely to identify your communication as spam before they even read it. If enough people identify your mailing as spam, you can face consequences: suspension of your account, for example, or identification of your e-mail address as a source of spam, making it useless for future contacts.
Instead, restrict your e-mail campaigns to those who would actually like to hear from you: your current customers, people who have signed up for your mailing list at your web site or in your office or at your vendor’s table, people who’ve shaken your hand and given you their cards.
Then make sure that your mailings include an opt-out sentence: something like “To unsubscribe from this newsletter, click here” or “If you’d rather not be included in future mailings, click this link.” Don’t worry that making it easy will lead people to unsubscribe. Research has shown that being given a clear choice actually encourages people to stick with you, since they know that you will respect their wishes.
There is nothing to stop you from sitting down with your e-mail program and shooting off a quick paragraph to all your clients telling them about your upcoming sale. However, considering all the e-mail they receive, your message will need to catch and keep their attention, and they need to recognize that it comes from you.
Sharp Hue designs e-mail campaigns, whether for newsletters, company news, or special offers, that are visually recognizable and compelling. We can prepare a design template for you that allows you to produce your own content, manage your own lists, and keep track of your own results – while maintaining the professional image that gives your clients confidence. We can also do it all for you, which can be a great option when the opportunity costs of diverting your own staff to the task are high.
Another factor in the effectiveness of your email is how it looks to recipients using different computers or browsers. You may have had the experience of sending a document to a colleague who uses a Mac when you use a PC, and finding that the document looked quite different. This kind of difference can show up even when it’s just a matter of using Firefox or Internet Explorer. We can make certain that your mailing will look the way you want it to on your client’s screens, no matter what computer, e-mail program, or browser they use.
With the amount of competition you have for your clients’ attention, the most effective e-mail campaign will involve the best quality e-mail. Make sure your communication is useful and enjoyable for your clients, and they will be glad to hear from you.
This is the first criterion for many businesspeople. E-mail marketing is quite simply the least expensive form of direct marketing available. Printing and mailing a black and white newsletter to a list of 5,000 prospective customers, assuming you get it camera-ready yourself, will cost you in the neighborhood of $3,000. An e-mail newsletter to the same size list, through Sharp Hue, would be nearer $600 for design and $100 for delivery.
Since all Sharp Hue e-marketing services include design and setup, and all are tailored to your needs, the total will vary, but the difference in the size of your investment remains significant.
Even when you choose to go for direct mail, QED Market Research reports that following up with an e-mail push has been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 50%, providing a significantly higher return on your investment.
Sharp Hue custom designed e-mail templates allow you to send your own e-mail campaigns for $5.00 per campaign and two cents per e-mail address, with no monthly fees. The intrinsic savings of e-mail marketing can allow you to choose the full-service template design option without straining your budget. Additionally, campaign reporting capabilities like opens, clicks, and bounces give you instant insight into the overall effectiveness and ROI of each e-mail campaign you send.
Watching the three Es will ensure that your e-mail marketing is fruitful, not a victim of e-mail fatigue. Now is the perfect time to begin your e-mail marketing, or to sharpen up your approach to make it more satisfying. Contact Sharp Hue to plan your ideal strategy.