Email marketing is fundamental to almost every internet marketing business.
This article briefly discusses some of the more common approaches to email marketing – demonstrating the many and varied options available, the monetization opportunities for each, and the degree to which the recipients are annoyed or helped.
Commercial SPAM – or UCE (Unsolicited Commerial Email) is email marketing at its worst. This is a form of email marketing where the sender is completely unconcerned about the degree to which the recipients are annoyed. However, we have to assume that it is a viable business model since spammers continue to operate despite our best attempts to stop them and ignore them.
The remaining business models in the article cover non-spamming methods of email marketing.
The standard mantra for many in the internet marketing field is that “the money is in the list”. This leads to the practice of “list building” (i.e. collecting email address – legally). The list is then used for email marketing.
The question then becomes – what is the nature of the communication to that list?
Here are the common models.
Basic List Promotions
In this model, the list owner is prompted to send out a mailing to their list in order to promote a product – either one of their own, or one which they are an affiliate of.
Some marketers make an effort to create a useful, informative article that puts the product or service in context and explains why it is important for the recipient to find out more (i.e. to click through to the sales page).
More often than not, however, there is very little, if any, useful information in the email.
To a degree, this is useful to the recipient since it provides a way to learn about what products or services are available that might be useful. The usefulness of such a model increases the more the list is segmented, so that the sender knows much more clearly just what the recipient is likely to want to know about.
The trick for the recipient is not to be on too many “lists” that promote the same product.
Extended Sales Process
When people visit a sales website, it is unusual for them to purchase immediately. Most people want to “think about it” and would like “more information”. They need more time and need to develop some sort of relationship with the vendor before making the committment to spend money.
To faciliate this, internet marketers often develop a sequence of seven or more emails and offer the website visitor the chance to subscribe to these emails. Potential purchasers who do not want to make a purchasing decision right away are quite happy to make the much easier decision to “find out more” via a sequence of emails.
Ultimately, the goal of these emails is to make a sale. Here are some approaches that are taken to achieve that end:
- Cover major benefits and features in more detail
- Explain the effort and costs involved in achieving the same result in other ways
- Provide testimonials from satisfied customers
- Promote the emails as a “Course” (see below)
For the most part, recipients are likely to find emails that are part of an Extended Sales Process to be valuable in helping them make a purchasing decision (or not, as the case may be.)
If no sale is made at the end of the sequence of emails, however, it is usually in the vendors interests to switch to a Basic List Promotion model rather than simply to ignore people on that list.
From the recipients viewpoint, it is worth watching for when this switch happens and then deciding whether or not to stay on the list.
eZine or Newsletter
People using the Basic List Promotions model sometimes claim that they provide an “eZine”, but unless there is regular publication schedule, and the main content of the email is useful articles, they do not have an eZine – just a list.
There are two ways that eZines can be monetized. Advertizing and Recommendations.
The eZine owner can sell advertising space in the eZine, or can rent the list for one-off “promotions” (similar to the Basic List Promotion method).
Articles in the eZine provide useful information, but ultimately lead to a recommendation to buy a product or service or to take some other action that is aimed, ultimately, at making a sale (e.g. downloading a free eBook).
A course can be delivered via email, with each module or topic being covered in a separate mailing.
By its very nature, the course should contain information that is useful to the recipient.
A course can be monetized in a number of ways.
This is very similar to the Recommendations method used in eZines. In this case the Course could be regarded as a pre-planned, related sequence of eZines. For example, in order to follow the advice given in the course, certain products or services are recommended.
Extended Sales Process:
In this case the emails (should) provide valuable information, but are likely to fall short of revealing all that the recipient needs. In order to learn the remaining information, or to move to the “next level”, the recipient needs to make a purchase.
If done carefully, the recipient can get value from such a course, even without making a purchase, but enough of them will make a purchase to also keep the sender happy.
Email marketing can be used with customers as well as potential customers. There are many reasons why vendors would undertake customer mailing, including the following:
Communications with customers can help keep them happy with their purchase which is particularly important where there is recurring payment.
Customer mailings can be used to lead customers through the “Sales funnel”. Many business models are based on getting customers to buy a low-cost product, then they are taken through the “sales funnel” and subjected to offers of additional, increasingly expensive products. This is called up-selling.
As well as up-selling, email marketing to customers can be used to cross-sell related products. Unless this is done with care, cross-selling can turn into Basic List Promotion, and might lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Customer mailings can be used to research potential new features for a product, or to get feedback on the usefulness and value of a product.
As an marketer, this article provides you with a range of ideas for making legitimate use of email marketing.
As a recipient, it clarifies what you might be subjected to, and could help you make a decision about when to stay on a list or ask to be removed.