Interactive promotion report: email marketing

[Tags: , , , ]. Michelle Field looks at:

Email Marketing, Newsletters etc.
Michelle Field

E-mail Marketing is immensely used for commercial purposes often to promote a company’s services and products in hope to gain customers and therefore increase sales. In addition e-mail campaigns can deliver specific messages to an audience in hope to get them to carry out a required action (e.g. ‘register now’). E-mail marketing can also be used in the form of greeting cards, newsletters and event alerts. These e-mails are usually created using HTML (and elements of flash) or text formatting.

There are several aspects that make a good and bad e-mail marketing campaign. There are also advantages as well as disadvantages in using e-mail as a form of interactive promotion. I will be identifying some of these features and providing examples of where and how they are used on the internet.

Below are examples of web companies that provide e-mail services:

1) Yahoo
http://www.yahoo.co.ukyahoo/
Yahoo offers multiple services to their customers. For example, users are able to use the search option, shop, listen to music or they can read/compose e-mail all from the same page. This is convenient for users as almost everything they need is in one place, saving the time of having to search around a number of sites. I think that Yahoo mail is set up for all internet users (all ages) as its wide range of features caters for a variety of needs.


2)
Hotmail
http://www.hotmail.com/

Every e-mail that is sent through a hotmail account contains the hotmail logo. Therefore, the millions of receivers of these e-mails will come to recognise the extent of hotmail users. In addition, this is a good way of ‘spreading the word’ about their e-mail facilities.

Hotmail also sends their current users e-mails informing them of the new facilities available in attempt to get them to sign up to them. Some cost money such as more e-mail storage space and others keep up with competition and keep users hooked, for example by providing updated versions of MSN. I believe that Hotmail’s target audience is the younger generation averaging from 12-28 years as its features such as MSN appear to cater for this age group.

Some companies using e-mail marketing have become concerned that their deliverability rates are decreasing through the use of spam filtering. Image/link blocking is currently used by e-mail providers such as hotmail. If the e-mail sender is not in the receivers address book links will not be live and pictures will not be visible. How do legitimate e-mails overcome this? ‘It’s getting your recipients to “whitelist” or “safelist” you. How do you do that? Ask them to add the e-mail address you send from to their address books.’ (Jennings, 2004, Online). However this is easier said than done. Jennings also suggests, “You should also run every e-mail you send through Spam Assassin or another content/format filter before you send and check your score to be sure you’re below the ‘probably spam’ threshold.” (Jennings, 2004, Online).

Below are some examples of companies that use e-mail marketing campaigns:

1) Cancer Research UK
http://www.cancer2020.org/

The company has sent automatic e-mails to existing members (e-mail blast) of their organisation, encouraging them to sign a petition, to prepare the NHS for future cancer needs. These people then also have the opportunity to ‘Tell a friend’ in hope to spread the word as a result this could create a viral effect.

I would say that the target audience for this campaign is very wide as it is an issue that could potentially affect everyone. Also many people have fought cancer or have had friends or family that has had the disease.

When receiving the e-mail a link takes you through to the website that is set up for the petition. From visiting the website I feel the need to participate in the petition because of its good cause nature. The use of stating the number of people who have already signed signifies the extent of how much people care. The use of calm colours such as blue and green connote a utopian effect suggesting how we can make a difference and have a positive impact on people’s lives. I think that this is a good landing page as it has been kept fairly simple therefore taking into consideration the wide age group and audience that is likely to be visiting the site. For example navigation is easy in that the ‘sign up’ box is bold and the use of rollovers indicates the link clearly. However I do feel that perhaps the ‘who are we’ link that is in small print at the bottom of the page should perhaps be more visible for new visitors that do not know much about the charity.

In signing the petition personal data is required; therefore data protection would have had to have been taken into consideration. Promotion mailing software would have been used in order to contact their existing users. In signing the petition there is also the option to receive further information via e-mail I think this is a good way to promote future events.

2) N.E.C
http://www.necgroup.co.uk/

You can sign up to a newsletter to receive information on events taking place at the NEC, NIA, Symphony Hall and the ICC. This can be known as an e-mail blast where a number of members are informed by e-mail of the latest events.

There are usually a number of links on the e-mails sent; I wonder which of these links are most commonly clicked on by people and which are least useful. This also makes me think whether the company has considered this and if some links drive more activity and create more interest than others. If this is the case then perhaps the commonly used links should be highlighted more. Loren McDonald? from the Email Insider says, “If you focus just on the CTR itself, you might miss a key indicator, like finding out just two of those links drove 75 percent of your activity.” (McDonald?, 2006, Online).

I commonly use the link ‘for a full listing of what’s on’ to see all of the latest events. The landing page in which the e-mail’s link sends you to is good as it uses a simple table format with boxes to separate individual sections such as venues, dates, months and keywords. I think this simple layout for navigation is good as potentially they could be receiving a variety of users and from different age groups. This makes me consider the importance of landing pages as they are the first page in which users come to through e-mail links and therefore have the potential to win over a viewers attention to ‘read on’. In criticising this campaign I think it would be of use to them if they included a ‘tell a friend’ option.

In creating newsletters you need to consider what format you intend to use such as plain text, PDF or HTML. These are discussed further by Scott F. Geld who suggests that newsletters “…keeps clients and potential clients informed about products, events and services that relate to your business…” (Geld, 2006, Online). In order to make professional newsletters you could use a software application such as Microsoft Publisher.

Landing pages

From the above example I then went onto find out more about the importance of the landing page. Jordon Ayan CEO of Subscriber Mail states that a bad landing page can ‘…destroy a successful email marketing campaign.’ (Ayan, 2006, Online). From reading his discussion it became apparent that the following should be considered when creating your landing page:

· It should work in conjunction with the e-mail (same aims, approach and focus).

· Keep viewers focused on the action in which you want them to perform therefore get rid of un-needy items such as links concerning other topics. Consider navigation.

· Ensure customers that they have arrived at the correct location e.g. match the heading from the e-mail to the one in your landing page.

· Short and to the point information to keep user interest.

· Lead the eye, with the use of elements such as images and graphics.

· If you require personal information provide a link on your privacy policy to reassure customers.

3) Greeting Cards
http://www.greeting-cards.com/
The company offers a range of free greeting cards as well as ones you can buy. The receiver of the cards that are sent will become aware of which company/website the card is from through advertisements, as well as the URL address which is located at the bottom of each card. For a charge you can send a card without other adverts being included, either way the company will benefit.

These e-cards are aimed at a vast audience as there are a number of different categories such as astrology, family, love/romance and friendship a number these are likely to affect each individual that accesses the site.

I would use their free services in the future.

4) Synergy
http://www.cosmogirl.co.uk/

Cosmo girl is a magazine aimed at young females. Synergy is used with the use of competitions printed in the magazine informing readers that if they wish to enter they should visit Cosmo girl’s website. By doing this readers are encouraged to become members of the site and therefore are likely to receive newsletters and other forms of e-mail from them. In turn these e-mails promote the magazine by reminding/alerting readers when the next issue is out. These e-mails are attractive and eye-catching with the use of flash and images inserted. They also cater for the young female audience with the use of pink and bold text for the important messages such as ‘OUT NOW’. However these e-mails also contain a lot of text beneath the images allowing readers to find out more if they wish to but there is quite a lot of information to scan through. The e-mail also provides links such as ‘The Mall’, ‘Music’ and ‘Guys’ this remediates the set up of the magazine which also contains these sections. Cosmo girl also provide a unsubscribe button positioned at the bottom of the page.

5) Product Promotion
http://www.fragrancedirect.co.uk/

It seems apparent that content is an important aspect to think about within e-mail marketing. Fragrance direct offers fragrances for both male and females. Once you sign up and buy a product off of them you can become apart of their mailing list. The company’s mail adapts a style according to the time of the year (e.g. Easter, Halloween, and Christmas) and plays on these themes to encourage sales. They know that around these seasonal times people are most likely to be buying presents for people. A recent e-mail the company sent out used images such as bats and words and phrases such as ‘Spooky Offers’ to entice viewers throughout the halloween period. I like the overall layout of these e-mails they show pictures of products for both men and women.

6) 2004 Election
www.imediaconnection.com/content/4499.asp

This article describes how both George Bush and John Kerry in 2004 used e-mail as a form of raising their standings in the polls, they also both used e-mail marketing as a fund raising tool, ‘ Kerry raised over $80 million during the primary over the Internet, with email a major part of that effort.’ (Jenkins, 2004, Online). The article goes on to inform us of the ways in which both candidates use of e-mail marketing was good and bad. For example one aspect that was drawn upon was the use of a strong subject line. Kerry seems to have tended to use headings such as ‘Polling Update’ whereas Bush’s stood out more like “Let the Voters Choose, Not the Lawyers.” In all, the article seems to suggest that Bush’s campaign was more successful. It seems that Kerry’s was less successful as he did not; maximize use of personalisation, use strong targeting/segmenting (e.g. Bush sent e-mails to the residents of Georgia on issues concerning people in that area), deliver frequently- during the final weeks before the election Kerry was less urgent in sending out e-mails on a daily basis, also he did not offer a ‘forward to a friend’ option (viral effect) or did he include a footer with an opt-in option allowing people to agree to receiving future messages.

Mail to links
http://www.photographicsolutions.biz/
Buisnesses often have a direct ‘mail to’ link that automatically opens a new e-mail window (e.g. Outlook Express) enabling you to instantly e-mail them. I think this effectively encourages people to get in touch straight away, instead of perhaps having to write the e-mail address down to use later and forgetting to do so.

Spam

An example of a company that sends out spam e-mails is http://www.jobserve.com/.
Junk email- They out send you spam e-mails in hope to persuade you to improve your academic skills in conjunction with offers/discounts if you choose to use them.

Spamming is seen as a nuisance spam filtering is often used by e-mail users to block unwanted information reaching them. A report I found on spam says ‘ In fact, spam makes up 75 percent of all messages sent today, according to email security firm Postini.’ (Fadner, 2006, Online). Fadner also discusses the new ways to filter spam “…called reputation-based filtering, can keep spam out of in-boxes. Senders are graded on their practices, and are assigned a reputation score based on complaint rates, volume of mail sent, and senders’ responses.” (Fadner, 2006, Online).

However, spam can also affects legitimate e-mail marketing campaigns which can get filtered too. David Sousa in an IMedia article discusses some of the ways to avoid being black listed or filtered out. For example he suggests to ‘ Check your content. There is a lot of misinformation in the industry about content, such as using the word “free,” causing emails to be filtered .’ (Sousa, 2005, IMedia Online).

Conclusions

Advantages of E-mail Marketing:

  • Less time consuming and less expensive than direct mail or print advertising, for example an e-mail marketing report carried out in the US (results provided by the Direct Marketing Association) shows that e-mail in terms of response rate and cost was most efficient in 2003 out of 11 other marketing techniques. (2004, emarketer.com).
  • Instantly sent to the audience and quick responses from them.
  • Tools are available to allow the sender to measure the click-through rate (how many people clicked on the e-mail link in comparison to how many were sent out), conversion rate (the percentage of people who go to the landing page then do a required action, such as sign up for a product). The E-mail marketing firm Bronto has recently released an up grade to its e-mail analytic and marketing software. “ The new features include click-stream tracking, which allows marketers to track the path that users take from the marketing email through their Web site…” (Gupta, 2006, Online). Bronto can be found at http://bronto.com
  • Allows 24 hour marketing.
  • With the use of HTML you can make the e-mails interactive (use of graphics, video, music etc).
  • Global contact.
  • Finds the audience rather than the audience having to go out and find a service/product (like by visiting a web site).

Many companies rely on e-mail marketing to increase product interest, “Perhaps, that would explain why Microsoft sends out over 20 million email marketing pieces every month.” (Anuja A, 2006, Online). Anuja also discusses what she considers to be the top ten advantages of e-mail marketing at http://www.selfseo.com

Disadvantages of E-mail Marketing:

  • Sometimes it is hard for consumers to distinguish between legitimate marketing (e.g. one in which they have subscribed to) and spam.
  • Spam filters can sometimes block the legitimate marketing e-mails.
  • Deliverability- not all e-mails will be delivered this should be monitored by the company.
  • If attachments are sent out with the e-mails it is likely that they will get ignored because of the worry of catching a virus, formats such as PDF (use of Acrobat) often use attachments.

In 2003 both major ISPs and spam filtering companies such as AOL and MSN and SpamAssassin?, and twenty top e-mail senders including SilverPop?, YesMail? and Digital Impact got together, the General Manager of Deliverability Services for ReturnPath? said

“It provided both senders and receivers a set of concrete steps they could take to improve the deliverability of the legitimate mail that end users want.” (2003, http://www.isipp.com/)

Some features that make a good E-mail Marketing campaign:

  • Call to action- words in an e-mail to trigger the audience to do something.
  • Eye catching material (perhaps the use of flash).
  • Fast loading material (some large HTML documents may prevent this). Therefore consider the advantages and disadvantages of text and HTML and which one suits your needs. Chris James on E-mail marketing discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both formats further at http://emailmarketing.searchfactor.com/.
  • File size- “You want to keep your file size below 30K if you can (for some clients with graphic-heavy products, we strive to stay below 60K)”. (Jennings, 2004, Online).
  • Opt-ins and opt-outs should be used as they allow a company to target genuinely interested people.
  • Personalisation- Adapting an e-mail to suit the needs and interests of the receiver. As mentioned earlier analysing the use of e-mail marketing in the 2004 election it came about that, ‘ The Bush campaign collects more data upon its mandatory registration and uses first name personalization on all emails.’ (Jenkins, 2004, Online). Whereas Kerry did not do this as effectively.
  • Segmentation- Using customer’s previous information to send a niche audience a specific offer etc.
  • Appropriate timing- sending the e-mails at the most likely time to interest an audience (e.g. wood burners in the winter). A report I found on Jupiter Media online says that 60% of customers that buy through e-mails did so because they were already considering to buy the products on offer ‘…underscoring the need to catch the customer at the right time with the correct offer.’ ( 2005, Jupiter Media Press, Online).
  • Include a good subject line in order to grab the receiver’s attention and encourage them to open the e-mail.
  • Monitor the e-mails that you send for example the click through rate but also things like deliverability. Also see if any of your links are used more frequently than others and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Keep information short and to the point, make your points easy to scan and pick out relevant information. In addition draw the eye using elements such as images, graphics etc.
  • A report I found on IMedia online suggests that e-mails offering one service/product gets more interest/sales than ones offering multiple items. Their test results show that the e-mails they sent with one offer had a conversion rate of 0.1150% and ones with a number of products only 0.0204%. (2006, IMedia, Online).
  • Could be effective to include a sense of urgency. A report I found included a discussion with an executive from the computer parts industry who said in an e-mail, ‘ As of 6:04 a.m. this morning, these are the lowest prices for these products on the web .’ (2006, IMedia, Online).
  • Consider your audience and cater for their needs whether this is with the use of colour, simple navigation or the actual contents of the e-mail.

An article I read also states that, ‘ you have to design e-mail messages that give the user a quick and clear idea of who you are and what your message offers’ (Indvik, 2006, Online). The article also suggests that a good e-mail campaign should include things such as the company logo in the top right corner, a clear headline that delivers the main message, a sub-heading that has a strong call to action, a image that illustrates your message, use of buttons such as ‘buy now’, ‘learn more’ or ‘register now’. (Indvik, 2006, Online)

Bibliography

Anuja, A, (2006), Top 10 Advantages of Email Marketing http://www.selfseo.com/story-14500.php, accessed 10.10.06

Ayan, Jordon, (2006), What Makes for a Soft Landing, http://jordanayan.typepad.com/email_marketing/2006/05/what_makes_for_.html, accessed 10.10.06

(2003), EMAIL DELIVERABILITY SUMMIT SUCCESSFULLY DELIVERS FOCUS, COOPERATION, AND NEW INDUSTRY STANDARDS, http://www.isipp.com/documents/summitii-release.pdf, accessed 12.10.06

Fadner, Ross, (2006), Media Post, New Ways To Block Most Email Spam, http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=46120&passFuseAction=PublicationsSearch?.showSearchReslts&art_searched=email%20marketing&page_number=0, accessed 10.10.06

Geld, Scott F, (2006), Small Business Brief, Newsletters: A Great Internet Marketing Tool , http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com/articles/email_marketingnewsletters/005357.html, accessed 10.10.06

Gupta, Shankar, (2006), Media Post, Bronto Upgrades E-mail Marketing Software, http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=38150&passFuseAction=PublicationsSearch?.showSearchReslts&art_searched=email%20marketing&page_number=0, accessed 11.10.06

Hallerman, David, (2004), E-mail Marketing, http://www.emarketer.com/Report.aspx?email_jun04, accessed 04.10.06

Indvik, Kurt, (2006), IMedia Connection, An Email Cinderella Story, http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/9311.ASP, accessed 17.10.06

James, Chris, E-Mail Marketing, Newsletters: Formats That Work
http://emailmarketing.searchfactor.com/, accessed 10.10.06

Jenkins, G.Simms, (2004), IMedia Connection, Email Marketing and the 2004 Election, http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/4499.asp, accessed 17.10.06

Jennings, Jeanne S, (2004), The Jennings Report, The Biggest Challenges Facing E-mail Marketers Today, http://www.jenningsreport.com/Blog2004/blog012204.htm, accessed 10.10.06

(2005), Jupiter Media, Press Releases, http://www.jupitermedia.com/corporate/releases/05.08.16-newjupresearch.html, accessed 04.10.06

McDonald?, Loren, (2006), Media Post, Email Insider, About That Average Open Rate, http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=48863&passFuseAction=PublicationsSearch?.showSearchReslts&art_searched=&page_number=0, accessed 10.10.06

Sousa, David, ( 2005 ), Emailing Best Practices (Part 2), http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/6115.asp, accessed 17.10.06

The Marketing Experiments Journal, (2006), IMedia Connection, How Implied Urgency Increases Sales, http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/10434.asp, accessed 17.10.06

The Marketing Experiments Journal, (2006), IMedia Connection, Testing Emails Offering Services, http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/9844.asp, accessed 17.10.06

I also referred to the following websites:

http://bronto.com/, accessed 15.10.06

http://www.cancer2020.org/, accessed 25.09.06

http://www.cosmogirl.co.uk/, accessed 12.10.06

http://www.fragrancedirect.co.uk/, accessed 12.10.06

http://www.greeting-cards.com/, accessed 07.10.06

http://www.hotmail.com/, accessed 27.09.06

http://www.jobserve.com/, accessed 10.10.06

http://www.necgroup.co.uk/, accessed 27.09.06

www.photographicsolutions.biz/, accessed 10.10.06

http://www.yahoo.co.uk/, accessed 01.10.06

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