Email Marketing is not a new marketing discipline but it is possibly one of the more underestimated and under-utilised channel of internet marketing. Especially in today's communications climate where social media appears to be the new wave, with networks such as Facebook reaching over 200 million users and Twitter the micro-blogging site with users even tweeting from their mobile phones, is email marketing dead? Hardly.
Social media is yet another platform to communicate with consumers in a different format and environment, which in my opinion, has not evolved to replace emails. For businesses who own their database of customers or list of prospects, they effectively own an asset that social media audience would not have given up, that is, the permission to communicate directly to them via emails. So, shifting our attention to email marketing, here are some tips to generate leads at no or low cost for a more cost-effective and successful email campaign: Building a database from the web
- Especially for internet businesses, one of the main objectives of the website should be to collect leads, ie email addresses of visitors to the website. Invite visitors to register for free information, a freebie or eNewsletters. You know you have a captive audience if they have indicated that they would like to hear from you.
Leverage existing customer database
- Customers find prospects – reward your customers to help you find prospects. Especially if they are loyal customers, there is a high likelihood that their like-minded friends would be good leads for your business.
- Customers find customers – provide incentives to customers who have referred leads who turned into customers for you.
Purchase databases or lists of prospects
- Identify your high value and loyal customers and profile-match by demographics, lifestyle-matching or residential location to lists that you may be able to purchase, ie from list houses or research / survey companies. This way, you're closing the gap between "cold leads" and prospects, gaining leads who are matching the profiles of your valued customer, thereby increasing your chances of closing a sale.
- Determine the dollar value of such a prospect to you and where possible, negotiate with list houses to pay based on cost per lead.
- When you have identified a list that you would like to purchase, it is best practice to first test your email message with a sample size of the list. For the purpose of the test, trial different promotion messages on the same offer or trial different offers on the same customer segment. And if these tests proved to yield good response delivering sales and leads, you could always purchase the rest of the list.
Email is still amongst the top daily online activity by consumers, which makes getting the email message right, accompanied with relevant and targeted offers to consumers a key priority of internet businesses. Gaining permission to communicate to your audience is the first step, keeping and maintaining their attention is the on-going challenge. This is probably the one challenge that email marketing and social media share, how to keep audience interested to want to hear from you, and what's in it for them to do business with you.