At its core, e-mail marketing is a tool for customer relationship management (CRM). Used effectively, this extension of permission-based marketing can deliver one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) of any remarketing activity. Simply put, e-mail marketing is a form of direct marketing that utilizes electronic means to deliver commercial messages to an audience. It is one of the oldest and yet still one of the most powerful of all remarketing tactics. The power comes from the fact that it is the following.
- Extremely cost effective due to a low cost per contact
- Highly targeted
- Customizable on a mass scale
- Completely measurable
Furthermore, e-mail marketing’s main strength is that it takes advantage of a customer’s most prolific touch point with the Internet: their in-box. E-mail marketing is a tool for building relationships with both existing and potential customers. It should maximize the retention and value of these customers, which should ultimately lead to greater profitability.
E-mail is probably ubiquitous to you, but there was a time when there was no e-mail!
E-mail actually predates the Internet and was first used way back in 1961 as a way for users of the same computer to leave messages for each other. Ray Tomlinson is credited with creating the first network e-mail application in 1971. He initiated the use of the “@” sign and the address structure that we use today (username hostname). E-mail was used to send messages to computers on the same network and is still used for this purpose today.
It was only in 1993 that large network service providers, such as America Online and Delphi, started to connect their proprietary e-mail systems to the Internet. This began the large-scale adoption of Internet e-mail as a global standard. Coupled with standards that had been created in the preceding twenty years, the Internet allowed users on different networks to send each other messages. The first e-mail spam dates back to 1978. Spam is defined as unsolicited commercial or bulk e-mail. In fact, more than 97 percent of all e-mails sent over the Net are spam.
How It Works
- Transactional e-mails. When you place an order, there will be a number of e-mails that you receive, from confirmation of your order to notice of shipping. Should you need to return an item, you will no doubt communicate with Zippos via e-mail.
- Newsletters. These are e-mails that are sent to provide information and keep customers informed. They do not necessarily carry an overt promotion but instead ensure that a customer is in regular contact with the brand. These build relationships and foster trust between customers and their chosen brands.
- Promotional e-mails. Should Zippos have a summer sale, they will send an e-mail relating directly to that promotion.
- Promotional e-mails. These are more direct and are geared at enticing the user to take an immediate action. They always feature a call to action and are designed around a specific goal.
- Retention-based e-mails. Also referred to as newsletters, these may include promotional messages but should be focused on providing information of value to the user, geared at building a long-term relationship with the user.
As with all marketing activities, careful planning is called for, as is careful testing and evaluating, so as to optimize your revenue. E-mail marketing may be highly cost effective, but the cost of getting it wrong can be very high indeed.