A beginner’s guide to online marketing for merchants: Part Five – Email marketing

Email marketing is the aspect of online marketing that most resembles traditional marketing. It’s used in a similar way to paper-based direct mail, and many of the same rules apply.

08th October 2015

Additionally, your chosen EPoS software package may well have an email marketing module, making email marketing one of the most accessible forms of online marketing for traders and merchants. Nevertheless, there are plenty of email marketing pitfalls to avoid. Here’s how to assemble a sound email marketing campaign that gets results.

Targeting

Email marketing is most effective when you know that customers will appreciate the content you’re sending to them. Not all of your customers are the same. As a merchant, you’ll probably want to separate your database of client emails into trade and DIY customers, for example. You can also ask customers what type of emails they’d like to receive (e.g. newsletters, offers, competitions). These basic forms of segmentation vastly improve the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.

The targeting shouldn’t stop there. If you use EPoS software, you can link a customer’s purchasing history to the emails you send. Perhaps you could send marketing emails only to customers who haven’t made a purchase in the past few months or inform groups of customers about offers on product lines they’ve previously bought from.

Find your platform and practice

You can send out marketing emails in two different ways: first, through your current EPoS software, and second, through a third party provider such as MailChimp. Weigh up costs and convenience. Practice using both methods and decide which works best for your company. Never send out emails using staff members’ work email addresses. Not only does this look unprofessional, but sending bulk emails via these accounts is likely to get your email address blacklisted for spam.

Tips and pitfalls

These nuggets of email marketing advice will get you off to a good start:

·         Extend your brand’s voice. Don’t use informal language in your emails if your brand is usually more serious and professional.

·         Don’t spam. If subscribers are peppered with daily emails, they’ll stop reading them and then unsubscribe. One marketing email a week is usually sufficient for most email marketing campaigns, but during busy periods you may wish to increase their frequency.

·         Keep it short. Get to the point – in your subject line, if you can. Many recipients will only scan the first section of a marketing email before they decide to click delete or click through to your website, so make that opening count.

·         Give clients a reason to subscribe. Give exclusive offers to subscribers or early access to special discounts.

·         Always proof read before sending. Ensure you haven’t made any typos or spelling mistakes and check you’re sending the email to the right group of subscribers.

·         Avoid certain words in the subject line. Don’t use all capital letters, lots of exclamation marks or pound signs, and words like ‘free’, ‘guarantee’ and ‘bargain’ as these are likely to get caught by spam filters.

Perhaps the golden rule of email marketing is to put yourself in the shoes of your subscribers. Will they welcome this email or be annoyed by it? If wielded correctly, email marketing is a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal and can reap gains for your company, attracting new and repeat custom.

For more marketing tips for traders, plus news and analysis for merchants, visit the Integrity Trader blog.

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