27th August 2008 Alan Spurgeon

Email Marketing – How can it help me?

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“How can email marketing help my business?” – This is one most common question we are asked.

At first glance this may seem pretty obvious (it’s advertising, with all the benefits to your business that this implies), but there is a serious point behind it.

In most cases what people are really asking is something like: “Direct email advertising is often ignored, so what’s the point?”

This is a much more complex question, and by no means easy to answer. There are, however, certain advantages to using email (when compared to more traditional direct mail techniques) which can significantly improve the chance that your message will at least be read.

Before we get started, let me first clear up a common misconception. There is absolutely nothing we can do to force the recipient to open the email. Even if there were, we would not do so – such tactics are not the methods of a reputable company.

So, how can we maximise the number of emails that are read (as opposed to being deleted or simply ignored)?

This is two-fold: initial email design and statistical analysis.

Email Design: The first problem is to get your message into your customers’ (or potential customers’) inbox. This is by no means as easy as it sounds since most email servers these days have filtering software installed that shunts obvious direct advertising into junk mail folders, where it is extremely unlikely to be read.

For obvious reasons, the authors of this software do not advertise the criteria they use to decide what is, or is not, direct advertising. However, with a little experience, it is possible to learn what usually works as opposed to what usually does not.

The second problem is encouraging the recipients to read the email. After all, most people have a dozen or more emails to deal with every morning before they can even think about starting their days’ work.

In order to avoid your email simply being deleted as “just somebody trying to sell me something” it must be attractive, interesting and relevant to the recipients concerns. And that is the big problem – some email filtering can be disconcertingly good at picking out “attractive” emails and shunting them into the junk mail.

Clearly there is a fine line between an attractive (and therefore hopefully successful) email and one that will never be read.

At Hedgehog Digtial we have been sending bulk email campaigns for a long time, and consequently we have a lot of experience in this area. We employ this from the outset to design an email that will pass through the filter systems into the recipients’ inbox.

Statistical Analysis: So, how do we assess the effectiveness of an email?

Quite simply, we collect statistics on every campaign we run.

This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages email marketing can offer over more traditional (postal based) direct marketing campaigns.

Email servers routinely return several status flags to the sender on every email that sent. These status flags can reveal if email reached it’s intended target (possible but difficult with traditional mail), if it was opened (impossible with traditional mail), if the recipient click any of the links in the message, and much more.

We record all this information and then analysis it to get a much clearer idea of just how effective a campaign has been. The results of this are used to both refine the initial design and better target the email list so that future campaigns are even more effective.

Hedgehog Digital Bedford

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