Email marketing is still one of the cheapest, direct and personalized ways to reach out to an audience. Telemarketing is a costly exercise and most people don’t appreciate being called repeatedly. Social media marketing is effective but most companies are trying to determine the metrics that will truly imply the success or failure of a particular strategy. Many companies have cut down on their email marketing campaigns imagining it is passé. But it is still one of the most relevant marketing strategies there is today.

Email Marketing 2.0
For many years, email marketing has been the digital or virtual versions of mailers. The old practice of sending leaflets, brochures, fliers and inlets directly to residences and business addresses got replaced with mails in their inbox. Email marketing is no longer about such mails. It is about rich media, information and visuals. It is not a digital letter or brochure. Email marketing has changed and thus your strategy should change as well. Also, email marketing should not be approached in isolation. Many companies still don’t engage with customers on multiple platforms. Email marketing should be naturally integrated with other methods of promotions and branding.
Email marketing 2.0 is more than just ads or newsletters. Emails loaded with helpful information and with a concerted effort on branding are the new weapons of mass, yet direct, marketing.
Defining the Goals
The purpose of any marketing campaign is to increase sales. Some companies take the route of lead generation, some go for direct sales, some run promotional programs allowing people to try a service or product for free and some companies simply work on increasing their brand exposure which will lead to more sales eventually. As a business, you need to define the objectives and use appropriate metrics so you can come up with an effective email marketing strategy.
Email marketing is affordable. Once you have a database and if you can work on your own emails, then email marketing doesn’t cost a cent. That makes it a disposable approach too. Many companies don’t take it seriously enough. Sending out random emails, trying to just cater to impulsive purchases and being assured of a rewarding return on the investment simply because there isn’t a major expense to begin with would lead to developing poor email marketing strategies.
Perfecting Email Marketing
There are a few essential components in every email marketing campaign. As you work on the nitty-gritty and perfect them, you would have an effective email marketing strategy. It all starts with the mailing list or database and ends with conversion.
• The first objective is to create a database and to keep it growing. The emailing list cannot be random. Many companies have a sign up option on every webpage of the website and gather data or leads from every possible source. Newsletter subscriptions, onetime promotions and different kinds of informative emails are the primary communiqués. The leads that you generate from every source need to be qualified. You need a very well defined emailing list. Else, your emails could be targeting various people with different needs and you wouldn’t have the necessary impact. The emailing list should have a very rational profiling system. From general information about the people to an idea of the socioeconomic profile or lifestyle, profession to purchase history or shopping patterns; the more information you have about the recipients, the more effective your emails would be. You can use simple filters too such as age, gender, profession or industry, job profile or income, past purchases that you can know of and buying frequency as recorded by your sales.
• The reason why you need to engage in segmentation of your target audience or database is because you need to personalize the emails. Generic emails don’t work anymore. Unless an email is addressed directly to the recipient and unless there is a sense of relevance for a person, the email could be junk or spam. Personalization is more than just addressing an email correctly and mentioning the recipient’s name. The entire content can be personalized based on the various details you have of your target audience. From finding the right products to getting the right kind of discounts that would impress the target audience, you need to plan the entire email including the offers specifically and present it in a personalized way.
• Email marketing is completely dependent on the content, the questions you ask, the solutions you provide, the timing of the emails and its relevance. Many companies try to capitalize festivals or holiday seasons. Those are indeed the best times of the year. But companies are now targeting paydays and specific times of the month when people make certain types of purchases. If you check your sales records or assess the industry reports then you would see the sale of any product being subjected to a cycle. There are specific days of the months and week when sales pick up. You can even narrow it down to specific times of the day or evening when the sales peak and dip. Likewise, there are times when people check their emails. Also, there are times when people just check the emails without following up. You need to know what your audience is likely to do. Accordingly, you must pose the right questions with the right answers and send the emails at the right time when customers or leads would follow it up.
• Email marketing is not confined to desktops. You need mobile friendly emails. You need features that would be just as interactive on laptops as on smart phones or tablets. You may have apps which will need to be integrated. And you should have shareable emails with social media icons integrated.
The best practices of content development, A/B testing, call to action or using compelling headlines and visuals, all of thatshould go hand in hand with the aforementioned planning and execution. Only then can you perfect your email marketing strategy for 2016.