For a brief moment in Internet time, email marketing meant placing an ad in an email newsletter and waiting for the traffic. Not anymore.
E-mail can be used in every step of the marketing process, from driving traffic and building brands, to customer service and marketing special offers. Take a look at almost every commercial content or e-commerce site on the Web, they all collect email addresses and send out e-newsletters. Even the site for M&M’s candies has a newsletter.
The reason they do this is simple, email is the Internet’s killer application. There are enough emailboxes in the world for every man, woman, and child in North America to have their own. According to eMarketer, in 1998 there were 3.4 trillion email messages sent in the world. That’s 9.4 billion messages every day in the US alone. When the owners of those mailboxes are sent a message, it appears right there in front of them. Quick turnaround equals quick results. No driving Web traffic to site to get the message, the message comes to them. E-mail is direct marketing at its finest.
Need another reason? E-mail is dirt cheap. Some numbers to crunch:
- Internet direct marketing is estimated to be 60-65 percent cheaper than traditional direct marketing —Yankee Group
- Direct marketing cost-per-piece comparison: $.01-0.25 for email, $1-2 piece for snail mail —Jupiter Communications
- Approximately $603 million was spent on direct marketing through the Internet in 1998. This number will climb to $5.3 billion by 2003 —The Direct Marketing Association
While placing an email ad in a newsletter or buying an opt-in email list may go a long way toward customer acquisition, the work of email marketing is not done once you get the traffic. Now its time to get the email address of that visitor and let the post-acquisition phase of marketing by email take over.
Just like the M&M site, whether you are in the content or e-commerce business, your site needs to have a newsletter. Use it to promote new features, updates, new product offerings. Beyond the basic information-sharing function of a newsletter lies its branding effect. Every day, week, month, or whatever the frequency of the newsletter, that visitor that once made the trip to your Web site gets a reminder delivered right to his or her Inbox that you are still there.