emailAdopting an email marketing strategy is a wise plan if you intend to grow an email list to market to. It is often said that the money is in the list, and that is true to a large degree, but a more accurate statement might be that the money is in the targeted list. When an email marketing strategy grows a list of people who are proven buyers, for example, that list will always be more profitable than a similar list of people who have merely shown an interest.

There are many acceptable ways to capture emails from potential customers. Often it can be little more than a simple subscribe form placed prominently on a web page. The subscription could be for a weekly or monthly newsletter, or it could be for a one-off ‘gift’ of a relevant PDF report, an informative video, or a useful piece of software, for example.

In all cases the person opts in to the subscription willingly, and exchanges his or her email for whatever is offered in return, knowing that they will continue to receive email messages, and that some of them will be promotional emails trying to sell something. This is sometimes known as permission marketing.

“… double opt in …”

It is also common for the person opting into a subscription to be asked to ‘double opt in’. They opt in initially by typing their email and possibly their name into a form on a web page, then they are asked to click a link in an email that is immediately sent to them. In this way the person effectively agrees twice to receive the emails. This can be a very effective safeguard against any case where a wrongful charge of spam is made.

Spam is an unacceptable form of email marketing. Emails are sent, usually in bulk, to hundreds or thousands of people who did not give their permission to receive them. With spam it is also usual that the recipient has no way to unsubscribe, and there is usually no contact information included either. There may also be an enticing, but deceptive subject line designed to get the email opened.

One of the main hallmarks of spam is that it is usually a blatant advertising message that screams “buy this product”. The conversion rates of spam are generally very low, but by sending out hundreds of thousands of emails regularly, it can be a very profitable strategy. The emails used in spam marketing are often scraped from web sites using special software. There is rarely any attempt to form a relationship with the recipients and most people find spam messages annoying, irritating and intrusive. Email marketing through spam is, unsurprisingly, illegal in most countries.

“… cold email marketing …”

An email marketing strategy that is often overlooked is cold email marketing. While these emails are sent out to people who have not asked for them, and can therefore be technically classed as ‘unsolicited email’, this strategy, when done properly, differs from spam in a number of important ways.

Unlike spam, the object of a cold email sent out is not to make an immediate sale, but rather to start a relationship with the receiver. In a good cold email strategy, the emails are all personalized, and rather than sending out thousands at a time, as in spam, it is more usual to send out fewer than 100 at a time, perhaps even only 10 or so. It is also usual to incorporate a follow-up sequence to reinforce and strengthen the relationship, and because the emails are extremely focused and personalized, as well as short and straight to the point, a cold email marketing strategy can be extremely successful, and ultimately very profitable.

Cold emailing also differs from spam through having a clear means for recipients to opt out of receiving further emails. There will also be full contact details included. In short, where spam is all about being shadowy and deceitful, cold emailing is all about being honest and transparent. The Can-Spam act of 2003 recognizes the difference, clearly distinguishing between ‘spam email messages’ and ‘relationship email messages’.

“… a positive relationship established …”

With a cold emailing strategy, the recipients are very carefully researched and chosen. The subject line of the initial email will usually be personalized, perhaps including the recipient’s name, or the name of the recipient’s company. The body of the email will usually start off by establishing some connection between the recipient and the sender, and it will be all about the recipient, emphasizing benefits, but not trying to sell anything. This will encourage the recipient to continue reading the email. The message will often end with a question, which gives the recipient a good reason to reply. At that point a positive relationship has been established.

The most important thing to remember about email marketing strategies is that they should all be about the person receiving the email, and not about you or your company. The recipient should want to receive the email, and continue receiving further emails too. An open and fully transparent attitude should always be adopted, honoring unsubscribe requests immediately, and always listening to what the people on the list have to say. In that way the email list can become an extremely successful and profitable tool.